A retired cop, Paul Luce is not prone to a lot of smiling, but he managed a few smiles today.
“I never thought I’d live to see this day to be honest with you. This is great.”
Luce stood at the corner of his street, James Place in Fredonia, to watch the beginning of a $1.4 million construction project to replace aging, rust-prone, cast iron water mains along six streets in the northern section of the village.
Some of these mains are technically antiques because they are over 100-years old. They are the suspected culprit behind the undrinkable tap water in scores of homes.
Last November, Luce invited 2 On Your Side into his home to see the water that comes out of his tap. It typically has lots of floating, orange particles in it. That's after is passes through a filtering system set-up where the service line enter's Luce's home.
Luce says he doesn't dare drink the water, or use it to prepare food, or make coffee with it.
The tub surrounds in his two bathrooms have had to be replaced multiple times because the water stained them. Luce and his wife don't dare buy light colored clothing because they come out of the washer with an orange tint.
This has been going on in the Luce household for over twenty years, meaning countless trips to buy bottled water.
Over the years, Luce was a frequent visitor to village board meetings urging someone do something to fix his filthy water.
“I’ve been to every mayor we’ve had with this problem, Mayor Landis is the only mayor we’ve had that has said there’s a problem and we’re going to fix it,” said Luce.
Athanasia Landis also visited the construction site today. While the first-term mayor was pleased work had finally begun she added, "I thought this was going to be done by now.”
The problem, says Landis, was an engineering plan for the project which needed to be reviewed earlier this year by the mayor and the village trustees. Instead it sat on the now-former village administrator's desk from March until July.
How did this happen?
“I can’t answer that unless I go into many details and I’m not ready to do it right now,” said Landis.
If the winter weather cooperates, the project will replace over a mile old water mains by late January.
Work in Luce's street is where the project is starting, so he could see relief much sooner and he says 2 On Your Side's coverage of the problem was the catalyst.
“If it wasn’t for you and Channel 2, I’d still be going to board meetings and complaining about my water. You guys really helped us out. Every other place I went to offered no advice, no help, nothing. You’re the only people that helped us out.”