Fluoride. It’s back in Walden. With one opposing vote, the Village Board of Walden approved the local law on fluoride at their meeting last week, returning the chemical to the water supply. Of course, as the village has seen ever since the topic first came up some months ago, it wasn’t that simple.
The board started the issue with a public hearing on the local law, during which Mayor Brian Maher advised the public that the village had discovered that the fluoride had not been maintained as properly in the past as the Department of Health (DOH) would like.
“Recommendations were made by the state Department of Health, but never done,” said Maher.
The village now needs to make improvements to be compliant with the DOH. The cost of those improvements could be as much as $10,000.
The board had received some correspondence in opposition to reintroducing fluoride to the water supply, and a couple residents during the public hearing asked the board to hold off.
“I can’t tell you how many calls and e-mails I got [that were] strongly adamant about returning fluoride back to the water,” said Maher.
Trustee Susan Rumbold asserted that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have never tested the fluoride put in the village’s drinking water, a point which others on the board disputed.
Maher stated that the board was operating under the recommendations and research provided to them by the CDC, local dentists and county and state health departments, all of which feel that fluoride should be returned to the village water supply, and he agreed.
The public hearing was closed and the village was declared lead agency. Both motions were opposed by Rumbold.
Rumbold further asked that the Village Board seek a written letter from the manufacturer, stating that fluoride was safe, if used properly according to EPA standards.
“They make it—they know what chemicals are in it. Let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth,” said Rumbold, adding that she was only looking out for the village residents, both those for fluoridation and those against it.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to have something to give these people? Give it to me in writing,” said Rumbold.
No formal motion was taken on Rumbold’s request.
The board moved on to the newest concern with the issue — where to get the money to pay for it. The mayor confirmed that payment for the improvements for the fluoride has to come from the water line of the budget.
“Right now it’s depleted,” said Village Manager John Revella.
In other business, the board accepted the low bids in regards to the tennis courts, sound system and water treatment plant. The bid for the tennis courts came in at $61,500 and the sound system at $5,900.
The Josephine-Louise Library is applying for a grant to replace windows and doors for safety issues. The grant is a matching grant, but the library will match the grant — no funds will come from the village.
“Oh well then, have at it, honey,” joked Rumbold.
The board passed a motion supporting the library’s grant application.
There was some additional discussion in regards to the possible redesign of the municipal square, whereupon it was decided that the board needed feedback before taking any action.
“We need input from the public before we spend one dollar,” said Maher.
The issue was set for a discussion item for the board’s meeting on Sept. 14. The Village Board encourages the public to come to that meeting and give their opinions on the necessity of redesigning the village square and what changes might help.
The board also voted to appoint the Village Comprehensive Plan Committee. The committee’s members are: Village Manager John Revella as non-voting chair, Mary Ellen Matise, Becky Pearson, Erik Metzger, Keith Hunter, Ed Leonard, Susan Rumbold, two “at large” members and two open seats to be filled later by members of the Planning Board and ZBA.