Part of the Erie Canal is inconveniently located at the end of a slope next to the Chittenango Department of Public Work's parking lot. Stooks Park is right next to the DPW, and two piles of road salt sit in the parking lot all winter.
Salt is easily transported through soil and bodies of water, placing stress upon plants and animals. Increasing the levels of salt in the environment can disproportionately wipe out entire plant species, since plants don't have the option to change their habitat. An example of a salt-intolerant plant would be the dead grass in the ballpark. It is worth noting that not having enough salt to treat roadways can cause some potentially lethal wipeouts of humans, as well.
Salt leaching has long been a concern. DPW Supervisor Ray Snyder says the village uses 200 tons of salt and 1,000 tons of stone dust mixed together every season. The material sits in two large piles in the parking lot, but only one of them is covered. Leaching is one problem, but what happens when supplies melt away and there isn't enough salt to treat the roads?
The DPW and Chittenango Village Board of Trustees are looking for a viable option to prevent leaching and adhere to state Department of Environmental Conservation stormwater management requirements. The ideal solution is to build a storage shed similar to the one Canastota bought last year.
Snyder is looking at a 42-by-80-foot cover-all type structure consisting of a plastic membrane with concrete walls surrounding it. The projected cost of $75,000 to $80,000 is quite high, Snyder said.
Grants to help municipalities pay for storage shelters are extremely hard to get, said Mayor Bob Freunscht. He said Chittenango has tried for the past two years to obtain one of these grants but was denied both times.