By Jennifer L. Warren
POUGHKEEPSIE – “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for the City,” its Mayor, Mark Nelson, affirmed, outside of City Hall last Tuesday morning.
That “unique time,” as it was referred to by Congressman, Pat Ryan, who flanked Nelson, is made possible by the recently signed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, allowing for integral funding for such necessities as the removal of lead in community’s water pipes throughout the nation. In the City of Poughkeepsie, the issue has been of particular importance for some time.
“One in ten children is exposed to toxic levels of lead in the City of Poughkeepsie,” said Ryan. “No level is acceptable.”
Ryan was joined by Nelson and other Poughkeepsie leadership members, along with Representatives from the EPA and New York State Department of Health, to not only commend them for the work they have done so far directed at investigating the lead risk problem, but also to officially announce the tangible plan to now proceed to do something about it. Although the needed monies are available, there is a competitive process involved in securing them, as many cities throughout the state and nation struggle with lead in their water pipes.
“I really want to make sure we are capturing this once in a lifetime opportunity to clean up these pipes, and I am certainly committed to doing so,” said Ryan. “I want to commend all the great work the City has done so far with this issue, and now want to really pick up the pace; this is a long-term process and commitment.”
That lengthy time frame entails further data collection, grant writing, cost analysis as well as a full-team effort from all entities involved. It’s a journey that everyone present assured those on hand Tuesday, he and she were not only willing to devote the time to, but excited about for the present and future health and safety of all residents.
“The only way we will make this happen is for all of us to come together,” said Common Council Member, Yvonne Flowers. “It’s an important time now in Poughkeepsie to do this, and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to make this happen.”
One of those teammates, Common Council Member, Meagan Diechler, who represents Ward 8, provided her unwavering commitment as well. A resident of the City of Poughkeepsie, Diechler learned from a fellow resident, Cooper Miller, about the serious service water lines lead issue, as well as its one of the highest childhood blood level statuses in New York State and immediately became very concerned.
“As a new mother and Councilperson here last year, and upon looking at the data on the lead levels in our water pipes, I realized a Property Ordinance to replace all service lines here in Poughkeepsie- prioritizing areas most affected (North side) has to become a priority; this is something we will get done.”