Stephentown Town Board Action – Public Hearing On Taking Over The Stephentown Elementary School Property Is July 9
by David Flint
A public hearing will be held on Monday, July 9 at 7 pm on whether the Town should accept the offer from the Berlin School District to transfer ownership of the Stephentown Elementary School property for $1. Town Supervisor Larry Eckhardt said at the Town Board meeting on Monday that a notice had been received from the District’s lawyer indicating that they would like a decision by June 30. There is no way that will happen, Eckhardt said, because the Town Board wants to hear what residents have to say about it and they may want to put the matter up as a referendum in the general election in November.
[private]Prior to the public hearing the Board will seek to have posted on the Town website (townofstephentown.org) the last Facilities Report from the State Education Department that indicated what needed to be done to the building to bring it up to school standards. Building Inspector Dean Herrick will provide an estimate of what it will cost the Town just to take over the property, maintain it and winterize and board up the building if that should be necessary. The first question to be answered is does the Town want to take ownership of the property. The Board would like to hear residents’ ideas also regarding what uses might be made of the building, but those are long term considerations on which the Board will not be ready at this time to make any decisions.
Eckhardt said that the Board has not yet seen any contract so it is unclear what restrictions or strings might be attached. For example, could the Town accept the property and then turn around and sell the building? Or does the phrase “for public use” in the proposition approved by School District voters apply to both the building and the school grounds, and is it binding?
If anyone cannot attend the public hearing, Eckhardt encouraged them to give any comments they might have on this issue to the Town Clerk either personally or by email
Court Clerk Appointed
Following an interview process conducted by two Board Members and the two Town Justices, the Board at a special meeting on May 30 appointed Tammy Whitman to the position of Court Clerk. Other candidates interviewed were Sherry Gallup and Town Clerk Stephanie Wagar. Eckhardt said it was a very difficult decision since all three candidates were very well qualified.
Lawn Mowing Contract Awarded – Phone System Tabled
At the same special meeting the Board awarded the contract for lawn mowing at the Town Hall and at the little Town Park at the Route 43/22 intersection to Robert’s Professional Services of Stephentown.
The Board had advertised for proposals to replace the phone system at the Town Hall which has not been functioning well. Annese & Associates from Clifton Park submitted an elaborate proposal with a price tag of $23,483.51. Another proposal came from Ronco Communications of Albany at the price of $6,145.71. The Board decided to give this more thought and tabled the matter for the time being.
Saving Money On A Dump Truck Body
At the May 30 meeting the Board considered bids to provide a new truck body for one of the Town’s dump trucks. The bids were $12,661 from Loughberry Manufacturing of Saratoga Springs, $11,835 from T&T Sales Inc. of Latham and $14,795 from Zwack Inc. of Stephentown. Highway Superintendent Aldie Goodermote wanted time to look over the bids and ensure that they met specifications, so the matter was tabled. Since that meeting, having discovered that the Town of Sand Lake was offering for sale a used dump truck body for $3,000, Goodermote recommended that the Board reject the bids for the new body and authorize purchase of Sand Lake’s used body. Joel Hunt, who works with the Sand Lake Highway Department, confirmed the price and that the body meets the specifications. He said the body had been surplussed. It was in good shape and was intended to be mounted on one of their trucks, but the truck went bad and had to be replaced. The Board passed resolutions to reject the bids and to purchase the used body from Sand Lake. Eckhardt estimated it might cost between $2,500 and $3,000 to fit the body to the truck and install hydraulic hoses, so the Town will save a minimum of $6,000 by buying used.
Land Use Regulations
Eckhardt reported that the Committee revising the Land Use Regulations had submitted a document with recommended changes. This document will be posted on the Town website and public comment solicited. After that it will go through a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) followed by a public hearing.
Eckhardt said that in 1989-1991, when the plan was developed, the thinking was that bad things – like strip malls – were happening and needed to be stopped, lest the Town become overdeveloped like Clifton Park. “If the purpose of the plan was to stop things from happening,” he said, “they did a good job of it. It became too restrictive.” He noted that in the current Schedule of Use Regulations it states that, “Any use not listed is considered to be prohibited.” This will not appear in the new Regulations. “We want to make it so that if you have a different idea, you can come to the Planning Board or the Zoning Board and present it and request a special permit,” he said.
Deposits & Spending
The Town Clerk reported she had turned over the sum of $583.54 to the Supervisor for the month of May. The distribution from the Office of the State Comptroller, Justice Court Fund to the Town was $1,995.91. The Transfer Station deposited a total of $5,706.
The Board audited and approved claims in the amount of $44,279.58 from the General Account and $93,410.94 from the Highway Account. The Highway Account bills included the final payment of $53,766 for the Case road grader acquired in a lease-purchase arrangement two years ago. “We own it now,” Eckhardt said.
The Board set a public hearing on the Stephentown School for Monday, July 9, at 7 pm and their next regular meeting for Monday, July 16, at 7 pm.[/private]