Newburgh’s infrastructure problems have been often recited Mayor Judy Kennedy, but she went through them one more time for a special committee of the state Assembly on Friday.
Her testimony before the Committee on Cities, chaired by Michael Benedetto of the Bronx, came nine days after the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced an agreement by Newburgh to spend $39 million over 15 years on projects aimed at reducing the discharge of untreated sewage into the Hudson River and Quassaick Creek.
It is a big commitment for a city with little to no room to raise taxes, and the city is under pressure to raise sewer and water rates to fund projects if it cannot raise enough through grants, Kennedy said. Those rates were doubled in 2011, and raising them again would be a big blow to property owners, she said.
“I liken this to the hunched-over servant trying to climb the hill with the pack on his back while we’re whipping the servant to go faster,” Kennedy said. “It has been a difficult row to hoe for our people.”
Nearly half the $39 million represents an $18 million project to relocate a major sewer line that is preventing development of a strip of land sandwiched between Colden and Water streets and overlooking the river.
Newburgh is hoping the project will be the beneficiary of state funding. In his 2016 budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s wants to add $100 million to a pool of $200 million created last year for water infrastructure projects.Getting the line relocated will open the strip up to the kind of development that will yield revenue for Newburgh, Kennedy said.
“If that’s where we can focus the money, it can help us take care of ourselves,” she said.