Stephentown Town Board Meeting – School And Roads
Stephentown To Hold Hearings On Taking Over The Former Elementary School
by David Flint
The Stephentown Town Board expects to hold public hearings, probably some time in July, regarding the possibility of the Town taking over ownership for $1 of the former elementary school building and the 6½ acres of land that comes with it.[private]Town Supervisor Larry Eckhardt said at the Town Board meeting Monday that if the Berlin School Board finally approves the offer that voters endorsed on May 15, the Town could decline to accept but he felt there were opportunities here that should be seriously considered. Eckhardt has said before that he doesn’t believe the Town wants to be a landlord for the building – would the Supervisor’s “other duties as required” include unplugging jammed toilets? – but having the land as a park close by to the Town Hall, the Library, the Highway Garage and the Fire Hall he thinks could certainly be an asset for the Town.
Eckhardt said he would like to hear from people if they have any ideas on using the building or the property, affirming that, “We certainly won’t do anything without public input.” Later, he said, there will be public hearings, everything will be done with due process and residents will vote on what to do.
Seniors Club President Cathy Lawless offered her idea that the school building with its central location would make for ideal senior housing. “We could walk across to the Library, walk to the Fire Hall where our meetings are held, walk to the Town Hall, go to church on the way by – and when we get too damn old, we could just walk into the funeral home and die.” Will Larry’s stitches ever get a chance to heal?
Robinson Hollow Way Petition Denied
The Board passed a resolution denying a petition from residents of Robinson Hollow Way in North Stephentown requesting that their private road be accepted as a Town road. Highway Superintendent Aldie Goodermote had completed an inspection of the road and submitted a detailed report concluding with a recommendation that the Board not accept the road because it was not in compliance with Local Law #2 of 1987. Goodermote said the road did not meet the required specifications regarding length, width of roadway, right of way and shoulders, construction materials, grading, drainage, culverts, overhanging brush and guide railings. The end of the road also does not have the required minimum 100 foot diameter turnaround. Beyond that, he wrote, there has been no certified survey submitted, nor any proper warranty deed and the consent of all abutting landowners of record has not been obtained.
Residents on this road have been trying to get the Town to take over the road since 1988. They finally have a definite answer from the Board. Councilman PJ Roder said, however, that the Town’s road specifications have been provided to the residents and they could go to an engineer and have plans drawn up for reconstructing the road. If these plans are then approved by the Board, and the work is subsequently done to specification and other requirements met, the Board could then reconsider a petition to take over the road.
Winslow Road Complaint
Mark Grochan, a resident of Winslow Road, appeared before the Board with a group of neighboring residents to voice their fears that the Town might no longer maintain their road. Most of Winslow Road, which runs north from Hankey Mull Road near the intersection with Adams Crossing Road, is in the Town of New Lebanon, but the last half mile sticks up into Stephentown. In a reciprocal arrangement the New Lebanon Highway Department does the snow plowing and the Stephentown Highway Department provides other maintenance.
Grochan said he had been told by Highway Superintendent Goodermote that he would maintain only up to a certain culvert but not up to the turnaround at the top of the hill because he considered that area and the last 2/10 of a mile of the road to be private property. But Grochan and the other neighbors say that the Town has been maintaining to the turnaround, which was constructed to a previous Highway Superintendent’s specifications, for 30 years or more. Without proper road maintenance, they said, the residents would be without fire, ambulance, garbage and school bus service.
Evidently, this conversation occurred at a time when Grochan called Goodermote about a fallen tree and then asked not only about getting something done about how muddy the top of the road gets when it rains but also whether some trees could be taken down and the road widened. Taking down trees is a sensitive subject because when the Highway Department has touched trees in the past there has been hell to pay. And Goodermote has been sensitized, too, by complaints about his crew working in one area, such as Provost Road, when road work is needed somewhere else. “No matter where I ain’t, that’s where I’m supposed to be,” he cracked.
Eckhardt said that he and other Board members would take a ride up Winslow Road with Goodermote and check out the situation then try to work out an amicable solution by next month. He pointed out that the situation is not the same as with Robinson Hollow Way where the Town was asked to take over a private road. In the case of Winslow Road the Town has evidently been maintaining a short section of private road for 30 years or more.
Road Closings Coming Up
Eckhardt reported that the State Department of Transportation (DOT) is planning to replace the decking on the Route 22 bridge over West Brook in June or July. They say it will take four to six weeks and during that time Route 22 traffic must be detoured. They thought to use West Road and Cranston Hill Road but dropped that idea when shown the slope of Cranston Hill Road. Current thinking is to use Grange Hall Road, as was done when they replaced the Route 43 bridge over West Brook. Eckhardt said there will be further discussion about that and whether the narrow Grange Hall Road bridge can accommodate heavy two way traffic from Route 22. Some think East Road and Route 43 might be a better alternative.
Eckhardt couldn’t understand DOT’s concern about replacing the decking on the Route 22 bridge when the rest of that highway is in such horrendous condition. However, Councilman PJ Roder provided a hopeful note saying that replacing bridge decking usually means they plan soon to resurface the road.
Councilman Bill Jennings reported that the County will be replacing a bridge on Garfield Road just below Gentile Road sometime this summer, possibly in June. Garfield Road will be closed. The Fire Department has made arrangements with the Hoags Corners and Tsatsawassa Fire Departments to provide coverage in the area below the bridge during that time.
Bids And Proposals
The Board opened three bids that were received for a new dump truck body, one from T&T Body King of Latham for $11,835, one from Zwack, Inc. for $14,795 and one from Loughberry Manufacturing of Saratoga Springs for $12,661.
They opened also two bids for providing lawn mowing and trimming service at the Town Hall and at the little park at the intersection of Routes 22 and 43. Bids were received from Robert’s Professional Services and from Burdick Landscaping.
The Board decided to wait until a special meeting scheduled for Wednesday, May 30, to award these bids, giving Highway Superintendent Goodermote and themselves some time to look over the details.
The Board had earlier asked for proposals for replacing the Town’s phone system that they say does not work. Two proposals were received which they opened. One was quite elaborate with a price tag of $23,283. The cost of the other one was a good bit less at $6,145 – maybe “two cans and a string,” Eckhardt quipped. The Board will look at these and discuss them at their next Workshop meeting.
Equalization Rate Essentially Unchanged
Eckhardt reported that the State has placed the Equalization Rate for Stephentown at 29.9. Last year it was 29.0 so it hasn’t changed much at all. The number means that according to the State Office of Real Property Services, Stephentown is assessing property at 29.9% of true market value.
Deposits And Spending
The Town Clerk reported that she had turned over the sum of $428.77 to the Supervisor for the month of April. The distribution from the Office of the State Comptroller, Justice Court Fund to the Town was $1,755.
The Board audited and approved claims in the amount of $24,406.78 from the General Account and $47,845.01 from the Highway Account.
The Transfer Station deposited a total of $5,190 for the month of April. The deficit (Expenditures – Income), according to Bill Jennings’ spreadsheets, was $3,445.21 for March and $3,743.34 for April.
The Board set a special meeting for appointing a Court Clerk and awarding bids for a dump truck body and mowing services for Wednesday, May 30, at 7:30 pm. The Board set the next Workshop meeting for Monday, June 11, at 7 pm and their next regular meeting for Monday, June 18, at 7 pm.[/private]