Calling Out the City of Amsterdam (With Updates)


During one of the last downpours we had on Friday, the basement of my parents’ home in Amsterdam flooded with raw sewage, something it has done regularly for a few years now. This time was the worst, as it rose over a foot and destroyed everything they had stored there. Their next-door neighbors had a more damaging experience – it came through the toilets and poured out, ruining much more than an unfinished basement.

This has been a city pipe problem that no one in Amsterdam seems to care enough to correct, but I’m guessing if a lawyer is involved the health hazards of raw sewage to a household of four (including two young children) and a city negligent in correcting a problem that has been reported countless times over the years (not to mention the destruction of an entire floor of stored items and the carpeting that leads upstairs) would be a slam-dunk of a lawsuit. (At the very least, it would make for one of those local news stories that you watch because you’re thrilled you’re not the ones involved.)

For now, I’m imploring any City of Amsterdam officials to do something. Thus far, my parents have been given the run-around, with one person saying it’s the responsibility of someone else and then that person saying it’s the responsibility of the first. The end result is nothing but raw sewage running through the neighborhood pipes with no corrective action.

UPDATES: Still awaiting any response from my tweets to Senator George Amedore, Jr. and Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara, and a FaceBook tag of Amsterdam’s Mayor Michael Villa

JULY 16, 2017: Another back-up resulted in more toilet paper and raw sewage coming up through the basement sink. Some of it still has not yet drained.

JULY 18, 2017: Michael Villa, the Mayor of Amsterdam, responded to my FaceBook post with the following: “Lets first be fair. I have met with all those that are facing this unfortunate situation and we have called in McDonald Engineering to investigate this issue. To say that this is a “new” problem is unfair and untrue. I have read all the reports and this dates back to 2006. I wish I could tell you this is an easy fix but that is unrealistic since this has gone on for 2 previous administrations. To place blame at this point is unfair. There is a solution that all residents were told years ago and that was to purchase and have a back flow preventer installed. The home that sits below the three houses impacted by this has one and he has reported no issues. We are working to get this problem resolved to the best of our ability but to expect it to be corrected immediately is simply not possible. My door is always open if you would like further information.”

First of all, no one ever said this was a “new” problem – if anything, it is blatantly obvious that the problem has persisted for years and no one has done anything. (Words like “regularly” and “countless times” are the antithesis of “new”.) My parents don’t care about politics or administrations when it comes to raw sewage entering their home, so to bring that up makes no sense and has no bearing on the situation. After speaking with my Mom, I discovered that the cost of the back flow preventer would be about $3000 to $4000, but if the problem has to do with faulty pipelines then why should a retired couple have to pay that much for something that should have been solved many years ago? My Mom also informed me that the engineer who originally told her about the back flow preventer said that it was a law that they had to have one installed. She did some research into that, and it appears that she was lied to. She’s not sure if it was an effort for the city to not have to deal with the pipe issue by making the residents pay for a temporary solution to a bigger problem, but it certainly sounds as though that’s plausible. Personally, I’m not getting bogged down in blame and politics: the bottom line is that right now there is raw sewage still sitting in my parents’ basement, the current Mayor of Amsterdam is Michael Villa, and we are waiting to see how long it takes for this to be rectified.

JULY 19, 2017: The Mayor stopped by my parents’ home after our FaceBook exchange. It was an admirable demonstration, and my Mom had a decent conversation with him. Later, Angelo Santabarbara stopped by and took a tour of their basement, offering his engineering experience on what might be done to rectify the matter. My family is appreciative of both appearances, and looks forward to seeing a solution on the horizon. I’m glad to see that something is being done, and I’ll keep this post updated as to the progress that results. Thanks to both gentlemen for taking the time to set this into motion. We shall see…

AUGUST 1, 2017: As reported by the local news crews, Assemblymember Santabarbara and Mayor Villa have made the pipe improvements a priority for the city. They interviewed my parents at their home and it looks like work has begun on rectifying the issues that have plagued the city for years, with a $900,00 influx of money to Amsterdam to make it happen. I’m very impressed, and my parents are very grateful, that movement has finally begun. Looking forward to a more permanent solution, and I thank Mayor Villa and Assemblymember Santabarbara for their personal consideration and work in this instance. (They have yet to hear anything from George Amedore, Jr.) Perhaps by the time this blog returns to its fall schedule there will be a happy ending, and I’ll be able to write a positive story on crappy situation.

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