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Geneva: Revenue building, lake tunnel upgrades, and stormwater improvements in the works

  • / Updated:
  • Josh Durso 

Geneva Mayor Steve Valentino says he is cautiously optimistic about 2024 after Geneva City Council’s second regular meeting of the year.

“Barring any pandemic, social unrest, or police reform challenges that this council run into, I’m excited — there’s a lot of difference of opinion, there’s a lot of enthusiasm — they’re eager, want to learn more, and understand the process,” he said.  Emphasizing that difference of opinion among city council — Valentino said he knows everyone will bring forward their own ideas for governing. “I think we’re going to be able to create some change — not the status quo that we’ve had for the last four year. So, I’m looking forward to working with this group.”

He sat down as part of a new monthly series on Inside the FLX where we connect with local leaders to give us an update on legislative action in their community. Valentino identified two major items on an otherwise light agenda that he says will be important for the city. 

Building City’s Revenue

First, involved approving a contract with Three+One, a fin-tech company for the public sector, which allows the City to invest cash-on-hand to bolster revenues. The service provides precise data, benchmarking tools, and forecasting for the City’s financial officers, allowing them to make the best decisions for taxpayers. “They’re going to come in and do an evaluation of how we can invest city money,” Valentino added. “Revenues are always challenging; and hit sis probably one of the biggest options to be able to work our money to get some interest.” 

He said that currently the City’s funds are generating between 0-1%, whereas under the new contract — making between 3-5% is possible. “There’s other municipalities using this with great results — including Ontario County.”

Getting Climate Smart

The second major item from Valentino’s vantage point involved the application for Climate Smart status. “We’ve done this in the past, and while those efforts involved adding things like LED lighting — the real opportunity is reducing costs,” he said. I think that’s important. If we can find ways to reduce cost to taxpayers through these initiatives it’s an opportunity.” The city’s designation expired in October 2023, and though the City will be starting over — the Mayor says this allows the City an opportunity to get back on track.

Lake Tunnel Development

Another item Valentino discussed is improvements to the tunnel under 5&20. While no vote was necessary by Council — renderings appeared on the Council’s agenda, showcasing what the main connection between lakefront and the city will look like soon. “It’s one of the last legs of the DRI and I’m really excited about it,” he said. “Right now it’s a little bit of a challenge — the terrain around there — because of everything that’s happened there.” 

While the lake side of the tunnel has relatively new sidewalks the other side is still underdeveloped. The Lake Tunnel Solar Village is located there, and because of the construction that’s occurred around that development over the last several years — officials waited to finalize work around the tunnel itself. “It’s been a little bit of a challenge if you have a baby carriage or bicycle to get from the solar village area thought the tunnel,” Valentino continued. “It’s going to be really cool. The pavement creates an entrance that actually has a sitting area and exit depending on which side of the tunnel you’re on, and it’s going to have some benches around it, too. I’m really excited about it.”

He said that work should happen in early-spring. 

Stormwater Work Begins

Photo of flooding last summer in Geneva.

Another item that appeared on the agenda the Mayor said is important involves replacing some of the city’s stormwater infrastructure. Flooding has made headlines in the city multiple times over the last several years, and it was a focal point of last November’s elections. Now, the City is set to begin work on replacing a portion of stormwater sewer that runs from Washington to Williams streets.

“Every community has been inundated by the water and devastated with the amount that came from storms last summer,” he said. “So, it’s been highlighted even more in recent months, and DPW staff has done extensive research to find the fixes that need to be put in place.” Part of the challenge, he noted, is finding evacuation paths for runoff from stronger storms with incomplete maps of existing infrastructure. “We have our citizens in Ward 4 that are still challenged, and we need to find corrections for that. We also have stormwater retention issues — likely upstream — that really need to be addressed, so it’s one thing at a time. But they’re expensive issues, so this is one of the first steps to taking care of these critical issues. It’s really critical.”

As state lawmakers craft a budget in Albany — Valentino said he’s hopeful for one-of-two things. Despite warnings that municipalities are expected to get hit with funding losses — he hopes the state takes infrastructure funding seriously. “When it comes to some of this stuff, infrastructure support from the state is one key thing, or even CHIPS funding, to help us improve roads and water. The cost of improving these things is increasing by the day, but funding from the state has been flat in many cases for 15-20 years.”