Berlin Town Board Action, Part Two – The Rest Of The Story
by Kieron Kramer
The Berlin Town Board held its April regular meeting on April 14 in the Berlin Fire House. Overflow attendance caused the move from the Town Hall because it only has an official capacity of 50. Aside from the important decision the Board took to disapprove the contract to purchase the Berlin Lumber property for use as a municipal center, plenty of less controversial business took place. Here is the rest of the story.
Highway Superintendent Jim Winn began his report by saying, “Apparently it has stopped snowing.” He said the Department has been tearing down the trucks, has been chipping brush, has “got everything pretty much swept” and has been filling a few “craters” in Cherry Plain Square.
Winn missed the March meeting due to illness. So, at this meeting, he brought up another controversial issue which was the purchase of a new tandem axle plow truck with plow that had been rejected by the Board at the February meeting. Winn offered to use money from his budget line to make up the difference between the amount in the budget earmarked for the first installment payment, $19,000, and the $27,000 that the installment amount, after Jeff Delurey’s presentation at the February meeting, would actually be. The Board members who voted against the truck purchase in February were not receptive. Board Member Becky Giumarra asked, “What about the other six years?” Winn answered, “I’m hopeful that maybe in November we’ve got a Board we can work with.” His bringing up what was a futile proposition only served as an irritant.
Dog Control Officer Doug Goodermote picked up three dogs recently. “Two got home,” he said. The third, a beagle he thinks hails from Melrose, was taken to the pound. He also reported a half dozen minor complaints about stray dogs. On Bly Hollow Road one was spreading garbage and one was coming onto peoples’ lawns and chasing their cats. Goodermote wants dog owners to try to control their dogs’ barking because the warm weather is almost here and people will open their windows and don’t want to listen to barking.
Town Supervisor Rob Jaeger said he had received a fax “from the lady at Pondviews [Country Kennel]” looking for information on Berlin’s dog license database. She is the Stephentown Dog Control Officer. Goodermote replied, “Yeah, I heard from them; how many dogs are licensed, Anne?” Town Clerk Anne Maxon replied, “Oh, got a few.” “So, it’s on the back burner,” said Goodermote wryly.
Lewin To Head ZBA
Jaeger acknowledged Don French Jr. for sticking with the ZBA Chairmanship for three years. “I really appreciate your time,” Jaeger said. French has turned over the reins to Vic Lewin. Reporting on the latest ZBA activity Dave Theriault said that a business on North Main Street has applied for a special use permit.
Public Hearing On Draft Comprehensive Plan
Tara Cinney-Fisher announced that the draft of the Comprehensive Plan is finished. There are copies at the Town Clerk’s office, the library and the local Bank of America. It is also posted on the Town website (http://berlin-ny.us/), she said. There will be a public hearing on the Plan on Tuesday, May 3, at 7 pm in the Town Hall. Jaeger announced that he will write a letter of thanks to Rensselaer County Economic Development Planner Linda von der Heide who “has worked diligently” on this project.
Tammy Osterhout thanked “everyone who dipped into their pocketbooks” to help fund the Youth Committee’s activities. She also announced that the Town received a $500 grant from Stewart’s for the Youth Committee, $200 of which is earmarked to cover expenses for one student who will be taking lifeguard classes. She said that the Hoosick Town Pool will be charging Berlin the same rate as last year for use by the Berlin summer swimming program in August. Osterhout said that because of the difficulties surrounding the Youth Committee’s funding in the Town budget she was unable to submit her program’s budget to Rensselaer County by the deadline so the Town will lose the County reimbursement of 2% of the Youth budget, about $160 according to Osterhout.
Jaeger reported that the Town is finally getting the grant money from NY State Senator Roy McDonald’s office for the beautification project – that is – the planting of gladioli beds along Route 22 that have graced the byway in August for the last three years. Don Calman, who has been organizing the gladioli project, said that the planting date this year is May 27 and that the Committee is still waiting to get the fifteenth bed.
Supervisor Jaeger announced:
• that the annual financial report of the Town has been filed and can be reviewed at the Town Clerk’s office;
• that the Board approved the health insurance bill;
• that the Board set a date to meet with the attorneys to discuss the union contract with the Highway Department employees;
• that he wants to replace the Supervisor’s computer, which has been handed down to him, with a computer that can handle the newer operating system that the Town Bookkeeper uses; he also wants the Town to purchase Adobe PDF software with a licensing agreement for more than one user. The Board voted 4-0 to authorize an expenditure up to $750 for this purpose.
Reporting for the Little Hoosic Watershed Association, Leonard Clapp announced that he was President, Stanton Goodermote, Treasurer, and Claudia Kavenagh, Secretary, and that the first Board meeting will be at the end of April. He said the LHWA wants to know if there is an area of the river that people would like the LHWA to work on this year. The dues for joining the LHWA are still just one dollar.
Town Historian Sharon Klein said that the County Historian is working with town historians to do exhibits commemorating the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War.
Assessor Allan Yerton announced that the tentative property tax roll has been completed and that the date for review and grievance will be published. (It was published as a legal notice in the April 22 issue of the Eastwick Press.)
Two volunteers have stepped forward to serve on the Board of Assessment Review (BAR). They are Jamie McMartin, Tara Cinney-Fisher’s daughter, and Trevor Jewett, Ken Jewett’s son. This gives the BAR five members as recommended by NY State.
Two letters were received, one from Maryellen Gilroy and one from Sylvia Thompson, praising the Highway Department for its excellent job keeping the roads clear.
Rebekah Hartman announced that work on the Taconic Valley Chamber of Commerce would begin in the fall. Jaeger said he was sure the Board would support the organization of the Chamber in the fall.
The Board voted 4-0 to approve the Justice Court audit.
Ivan Wager reported that he had cleared up some confusion in the contract with the refuse hauler and has straightened out the payment for recyclables. He also said that he has contacted JGS Recycling out of Waterford to see if they will take electronic equipment. The Town has not been able take electronic equipment since April 1, he said, but if JGS will take it the Transfer Station can continue to accept such items. JGS would also take propane tanks and refrigerators, he added. Wager concluded his remarks by announcing that the Little Augie needs repairs and won’t be in service to grind compost until the end of April.
Better Lines Of Communication Needed
The Board voted 4-0 to appoint Steve Barber to the Disaster Plan Committee. This appointment followed a discussion in which Supervisor Jaeger expressed concern over the lack of communication during the ice storm on March 7. There were about 100 people in the outlying areas of Town without power after the storm, and we failed to respond, he said. “We did not open up the fire house as a warming station. Luckily, people around here are resilient,” he added, but they still need to know who to contact to get help. “God forbid somebody sits in their own house and is afraid to ask and freezes to death,” he said.
Ivan Wager, who is in charge of establishing the Disaster Plan for the Town, suggested a workshop for townspeople to educate them about where the shelters are located and who to call for help. The workshop would be helpful to the Board, too, he said, because they are the only people who can initiate the Disaster Plan. Regarding this function, Wager said he needed a new Chain of Command to file with the County since there has been a change on the Board. Wager also said that he has met with the school bus drivers and has been talking to the Fire Auxiliary and Dianne Mosher, who teaches the catering class at Berlin High School, to see about plans for feeding people in an emergency.
The untimely death of Board Member Richard von Schilgen has left a vacancy that should be filled Jaeger suggested. He presented a plan where the political parties in Town would each recommend a replacement for von Schilgen and the Board could review the candidates at the May meeting. “This [procedure] had been done once before in the past,” he said, “it would be more equitable.” Board Member Sheila Hewitt said it was a good idea, but she thought that someone who is not affiliated with a party should have the opportunity to fill the vacancy. The Board passed a motion, 4-0, to solicit recommendations from the political parties in Town and letters of interest from other people interested in serving out von Schilgen’s term, which ends on December 31 and is up for election this November 8.
All votes at this meeting were roll call votes, which has become standard operating procedure on the Berlin Town Board. The Board’s next meeting is on May 12 at 7:30 pm in the Town Hall.