Your August article about “buried valves” in Ocean Ridge has some disturbing quotes. Ken Kaleel might not have known about this issue, but it has come up over and over when valves broke, or could not be located and had to be replaced. During my three years as commissioner, 2020-2023, this issue came up several times, and in staff meetings, Public Works Supervisor Billy Armstrong clearly told us of the situation. Of course, getting this information would have required some commissioners sitting today to have attended these staff meetings.
The issue also was discussed during the budgeting process in 2020-2022. Those same commissioners brushed the issue aside as not important enough.
We know the water pipes are aging out. We know at some point we will need to convert our septic to sewer. Neil Hennigan, as chair of the septic to sewer advisory board, developed a plan and presented it to the commission in April 2023. This included dealing with the pipes.
Mayor Geoff Pugh and Vice Mayor Steve Coz did not want to spend the money to move the next phase forward.
So here we are: Years pass and nothing happens. We will be spending half a million dollars in finding valves that attach to 80-plus-year-old pipes, some that we want to replace along State Road A1A — another project that has not happened in over a year. Money spent by Ocean Ridge residents, when down the road our only real option is to give our water pipes to Boynton Beach to not have to pay $40 million for the sewer system we will have to install. At this point, they probably would not want our pipes.
At the April meeting, Hennigan was trying to save our town the $500,000 it will cost to find the valves, the $900,000 American Rescue Plan Act money you want to spend on A1A pipe replacement, that appears to be going to our engineering firm, who keeps taking from the pot. He was giving the town a way out. Mr. Coz should be begging him to come back and donate more of the hundreds of hours he spent finding solutions for this town that will in turn save us all millions of dollars.
Ocean Ridge needs a long- term water plan, and many commissioners do not have the desire or ability to think strategically or globally, so short-term decisions are costly and are not sound. Shall we just wait for a major crisis?
This issue has come up month after month and the very people outraged now did not want to act on it. It was under Mayor Pugh’s administration that the hydrants were not serviced and cost this town over $100,000. Mr. Pugh, Mr. Coz and Mr. Kaleel all have been on this commission long enough to have heard about the issue, which was the same issue that Billy Armstrong has brought up in staff meetings over and over and was never given money to rectify.
The same people who silenced the messenger are now outraged that their inability to properly run the town is biting them in the ... !