Berlin Town Board Action – Not A Word
by Kieron Kramer
Having successfully passed the mantle of the most dysfunctional town board in eastern Rensselaer County to candidate boards in neighboring towns, the Berlin Town Boarding meeting on Thursday, August 9, was another breezy and brief meeting with no debate and no disagreements. Curiously, for the third meeting in a row not a word was mentioned about the closing of the Berlin Lumber property, which the Town Board voted in January to purchase for use as a municipal center. [private]The proposal to spend money on a municipal center was the single most divisive issue in Berlin since its introduction in July, 2009. Now, after the issue was resolved early this year, eight months have gone by, and there is still no municipal center. In fact, the Town still does not own the property. Unlike the stormy meetings of the last several years, not a word is being said about it now – not by the public at the meetings nor by the Board. Somebody knows why, and, as they say, the silence is deafening.
FEMA Funds Received
The repair and improvement of Town roads is moving forward, however. Town Supervisor Rob Jaeger announced before the highway report that an electronic transfer of $216,000 of FEMA reimbursements for the work done repairing the damage caused by Hurricane Irene last fall has been received by the Town. The letters announcing the approved projects that are being paid for by FEMA are arriving “piecemeal” he said. One arrived on July 24 announcing that the Town would receive $41,453.66. Another arrived on July 27 announcing a reimbursement of $11,581. More letters are expected to trickle in.
Highway Superintendent Jim Winn said, “Yes, we’ve been busy.” He said the Department has been paving roads in Town and has put down 1,000 tons of blacktop. The paving has been done on Old Route 22, the bottom of Hilltop Road, Walnut Lane, related to the bridge replacement, a FEMA project, 56 Road related to the bridge replacement there, another FEMA project, Dyken Pond Road and shimming on Bly Hollow Road. There are three projects left to do, Winn said. They are the gravelling and ditching of Miller Road, repairing the “scouring” under the bridge at the bottom of Old Route 22, a FEMA project, and replacing of one of the retaining walls of the bridge on Southeast Hollow Road that was replaced about two years ago. Dave Goodermote Construction has begun replacing the retaining wall and has already submitted a bill of $9,000. Winn concluded his report by saying that the Department has also been putting gravel down and will assist Stephentown with paving during the week following this meeting.
In another area of progress, it was reported that Verizon has placed a shed on the Doug Goodermote property in Cherry Plain. The activation of cell phone service on the tower there has been long awaited. Goodermote said, “They brought it [the shed] up on trailers backwards.” Pam Gerstel said that she had seen a big crane there, and another person said that the antennas are up on the tower. “Everything is up there now,” Goodermote said. As of this meeting there was still no cell service from the tower. It is likely that the electronic, telephone and power lines still have to be run up the spine of the tower.
No More Rides To The Pound
Dog Control Officer Doug Goodermote said that he had picked up two dogs in the last month. He also asked the Board if they wanted a fall rabies clinic. They said yes, so he will schedule it soon. Goodermote concluded his report by announcing that he will no longer take Berliners’ dogs to the animal shelter in Pittsfield. For years Goodermote has taken people’s dogs to this facility at their request for $35. He did this as a service to residents and because he didn’t want to see unwanted dogs “dumped” in Town. “Now the clinic is packed and you have to make an appointment, which might fall on a good farming day,” Goodermote explained as the reason for no longer offering this service.
Watipi Roof Bid
The roof of the Watipi Building sprung a leak at the end of July while Jaeger was out of Town on family business. Deputy Town Supervisor Tara Cinney had the leak repaired. But it appears obvious that major roof work needs to be done on that building, Jaeger said. He asked the Board whether they wanted to replace the worst part of the roof, about half of it, or replace the whole roof. The consensus of the Board was that the entire roof should be replaced. The cost of this project will necessitate a formal bidding process. The Board voted 5-0 to publish a request for bids on the roofing project with sealed bids to be received by the Town Clerk before the next regular Board meeting on September 13. Ivan Wager suggested that a bid for metal roofing as well as asphalt shingling be included in the bid specifications.
Planning Board Meetings
Chair of the Planning Board, Pam Gerstel, reported that her Board is still meeting with the Zoning Board of Appeals at 6 pm on the night of the ZBA meeting, the third Thursday of the month, to continue working on the review and update of the 1988 land use regulations. This meeting, in the Town Hall, is open to the public. Gerstel said that only she and the ZBA Chairman, J. Nicholas Adams, are attending these meetings so she has asked the members of her Board to volunteer to attend on a month of their choice. The regular ZBA meeting follows at 7:30.
The regular Planning Board meeting is on the fourth Thursday of the month at 6 pm in the Town Hall. There was no business at the meeting on July 26. Gerstel said, “I think there is activity going on in Town, but we are not seeing it.”
Reporting on the summer activities of the Youth Commission, Tammy Osterhout said that the arts and recreation program had just ended. There was an average of 35 kids participating in the program. The swim program has begun, she said. There are 64 kids signed up to swim in the Hoosick Town Pool. Osterhout said she needed to confer with the Board before completing the paperwork needed to obtain State reimbursement, which is administered by the County. She said that the Youth Commission has a yearly budget of $10,000 which includes the State reimbursement. She expects to receive $526 for each of the two summer programs. These programs need to be renamed to qualify for the reimbursement in the new State reimbursement program. The arts and recreation program will now be called the arts education program. The swim program will now be called the Safe Place Out of School Program. Jaeger said that Osterhout could meet with the Board at its workshop on August 23.
Bits And Pieces
Jaeger announced that the department heads will receive budget letters soon and should submit their budget requests promptly.
Len Clapp, who supervises Water District #1 on Taborton Mountain, said, somewhat enigmatically, “We had some problems, but they were corrected.”
Jim Winn, who supervises Water District #2, in the center of town, followed suit. “We have had a little problem, but that has been corrected, too.” He was referring to a small leak in the system.
Code Enforcement Officer Allan Yerton reported that the Berlin Fire Company has received its permit to install a solar array on the Fire House.
Ivan Wager reported that another container is being repaired at the transfer station and that he is beginning negotiations, with Waste Management and others, for the hauling of waste from the transfer station.
Jaeger said that some of the gladioli beds planted along Route 22 to beautify Berlin look a little ragged due to the heat and lack of rain.
The Board went into executive session from 7:50 to 8:05 to discuss Union negotiations.
Board Member Richard de Leon praised the Highway Department’s recent paving.
Toy Duck Test
Tammy Osterhout reminded the audience that Community Day, sponsored by the Fire Department, would take place on the weekend following the meeting. If it rains the event and the vendors will move inside the Fire House, she said. She also said she had tested the course of the Toy Duck Derby that will be held on Community Day by putting a Toy Duck in the Little Hoosic River at the Park Avenue bridge. It made it all the way to the Fire House she said.
Beware Of The Flying Squirrel
At the end of the meeting Pam Gerstel related the tale of the flying squirrel. Much to its eternal sorrow a flying squirrel, also referred to as a glider by Gerstel, got into her kitchen. When her husband opened the pantry door it jumped out, and he stomped on it. It screamed and finally escaped to the outside. “It was so fast,” Gerstel said, “if there is one there are more. I don’t know why they are here.” Tammy Osterhout said, “You can buy them at the pet store for $500.” So deLeon suggested to Gerstel that she might start breeding them. Tara Cinney asked Gerstel why she was so surprised. “A few years ago you had an ostrich in your back yard.” “It was on my front porch,” Gerstel replied. Jaeger thanked Gerstel for “the public service message.”
So, the meeting ended on a sightly nutty note. It had begun on a more somber note when Supervisor Jaeger thanked everybody for the several events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the propane explosion that wreaked havoc in the Town center in 1962. “The events went very well,” he said. He had been told by several people that they were reluctant to go to the commemorations but that going turned out to be “a blessing in disguise.”
The Berlin Town Board will hold a workshop, open to the public, on August 23 at 7 pm at the Watipi Building. The next regular meeting is September 13 at 7:30 pm.[/private]