Apr. 27—ALEXANDRIA BAY — Village trustee Julia A. Erck wants to fix the village's aging infrastructure, and is running for village mayor to achieve that goal.
Mrs. Erck, a six-year member of the village Board of Trustees who's lived in Alexandria Bay with her husband and children since 2004, says the village's water and sewer infrastructure both particularly need attention, and she wants to be the one to facilitate the much-needed investments in those systems.
"Every year I have been here, we talk about our immediate needs," she said. "Our infrastructure is aging, and it seems in the past nobody really wanted to conquer a big project because it had millions of dollars attached to it."
Mrs. Erck said that during her tenure on the village board, she's seen some movement on the issues. Two years ago, they hired a professional and put together an asset management plan for their roads, water systems, power grid and other infrastructure. She said that plan opened her eyes up to the tremendous need for investment and renovation at a number of village facilities.
"Our sewer plant is very, very old," she said. "We need a new water tower."
Mrs. Erck said much of what she's seen done so far has been "band-aid" fixes — short term solutions to long term problems — and she's worried that the village will soon run out of time to repair their most important assets.
The issue is even more important because of the level of development the village has. There are two water towers owned and maintained by the village, as well as a large sewage treatment plant. The village contracts with the towns of Orleans and Alexandria to provide drinking water, and Mrs. Erck said she has real concerns that the village's lack of investment will end up impacting residents outside of their borders.
"We're now a regional water distribution center in a way, people rely on our water," she said. "With one tower in desperate need of replacement, we need to get that done."
Mrs. Erck said there are significant costs associated with these projects — the sewage treatment plant renovations were last estimated to be about $9 million — but she feels she would be able to stick to the asset management plan the board had developed, balance the village's budget so money can flow into these projects and seek out other funding sources to finance the projects as well.
Grants exist now that could be used to help the village, and Mrs. Erck said she sees real interest in infrastructure development on a national level.
"I hoping that somewhere along the line, the federal government will come in and say that infrastructure is truly important, and address these issues with grants and money," she said.
Mrs. Erck said she's always loved Alexandria Bay. She was born and raised on Long Island, but her parents were Watertown natives and her grandparents had a summer house in the village.
"Since I was five, I've been coming up for most of the summer," she said. "I used to get dropped off at the beginning of summer and picked up after it ended."
She said she'd planned to retire to the area with her husband once their children grew up, but plans changed and in 2004 the family decided to make Alexandria Bay their permanent home. After the move, Mrs. Erck worked a number of jobs in the area. She bartended at the local American Legion, taught swimming lessons at Keewaydin State Park, worked as a licensed practical nurse taking care of a local resident and helped run a youth arts program run by the school, village and town.
Now, she works at The Arc of Jefferson-St. Lawrence counties, a local chapter of a national advocacy group for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Mrs. Erck is running as a Republican in this year's mayoral election, challenging incumbent Democrat Steven E. Jarvis. Neither Mr. Jarvis nor Mrs. Erck have primary challengers in this year's election, and so they will face off in the general election on Nov. 2 of this year.