Statement from City Council candidate Ben Shoen
This week, Councilmember Cliff Olney called for an “independent investigation” to determine if members of city staff had prior knowledge about the water main issue experienced last week. Now, my opponent, Leonard Spaziani, as well as Councilwoman Ruggerio, are echoing his sentiments and intentionally misleading the public in an effort to distract from their desire to irresponsibly spend taxpayer dollars and neglect the very serious infrastructure needs we have in Watertown.
Recently, I made a public comment regarding numerous water mains throughout the city having structural deficiencies. It does not take an engineering degree to know that when you have pipes that are 50, 60 or 70 years old, they are going to have issues. As council members and candidates, they should be aware of that.
It is incredibly disingenuous for Councilmembers Olney and Ruggerio, as well as my opponent Mr. Spaziani, to insinuate someone at City Hall had prior knowledge of the water issue and could have done something to prevent it. For years now, our City manager and staff have been vocal about the importance of fixing our aging infrastructure. In fact, the water main that recently had issues was included on a list of potential projects to be paid for with American Rescue Plan Act funding. Instead of using that money to fix that water main, and a litany of other important infrastructure projects, they prioritized spending $8 million on recreational assets that can only be used a handful of weeks a year. I can sum it up by saying everybody needs water. Not everybody needs a third pool and an overpriced golf course.
Lastly, instead of investigating city staff and making accusations about “who knew what when,” these individuals should be praising the workers who put in long hours to correct a very serious issue in our city. I know I speak for most residents when I say I am extremely grateful for their swift response, as well as the assistance from our partners at the local, state and federal levels. They should be applauded for the work they did, not criticized and berated.