Cottrell Road Bridge “Yellow Flagged”
by Alex Brooks
Hoosick Town Highway Superintendent Bill Shiland said the NYS Department of Transportation inspectors “Yellow Flagged” the Cottrell Road bridge. [private]They found some flaws and deterioration which compromise the bridge’s structural integrity, but they did not lower the weight capacity of the bridge. The only immediate consequence is that the bridge will be inspected every year now instead of every two years, but it means the Town needs to study the bridge further to see if it can be repaired or if it should be replaced soon. Jeff Wysocki, looking at pictures that Shiland had provided, said, “It looks pretty rusty.” Shiland said he would forward the information to Charles Tutunjian, the engineer at Creighton Manning Engineering who has worked with the Town on the last three bridge replacements they have done, so the Town can identify its options in response to the unfavorable assessment of the bridge.
Glens Falls Hospital sent a letter dated January 18 saying that they are closing the Hoosick Falls Family Health Center at 16 Danforth St. at 5 pm on March 10. The doctors now working in that facility will henceforth be operating from the Cambridge Family Health Center. The building is to be sold, and a new doctors practice is expected to open up there soon. It is expected to be affiliated with Southwestern Vermont Healthcare and employ some of our familiar local doctors, but details are not available quite yet.
Reval Kicked Off
The Revaluation Project was kicked off with an organizational meeting last week between the Supervisor, Assessor Rice, people from GAR Associates LLC who will be managing the project, Khris Ulmer of NYS Office of Real Property & Tax Services and Bill Film of the Rensselaer County Bureau of Tax Services. The first mailing from GAR to all home owners will happen in April or May. It will be an introductory letter that will have an “800” number for residents to call and ask questions. There will be an opportunity for everyone interested to sign up for small workshops that will explain the entire process and answer questions and there will be a sign up for requests Not To Enter onto My Property. The Board will keep everyone informed as to when Data Collection will begin and in what areas, what vehicles they are driving, what identification we can expect to see.
Updated information will be posted on the Town web site as we go through this process. Phase 1 Data Collection will begin now and is expected to go through August of this year. Phase 2 is Valuation where there will be a data mailer sent to all homeowners with the opportunity to verify or correct information that has been collected.culminating in creation of New Preliminary Assessments. Phase 2 should last into February or March of 2018. Phase 3 is Informal Review & Value- All homeowners will have the opportunity to schedule a time to review with GAR Associates the value that has been put on their home. The whole project is expected to be completed by July 2018.
Town Clerk Salary
Town Supervisor Mark Surdam brought up the question of the Town Clerk’s salary.
He said Town Clerk Sue Stradinger will be retiring from the position at the end of the year after 20 years, so the Town Board may have an opportunity for savings if they feel the salary for a new Town Clerk could be less than what they are paying a Clerk with 20 years of experience. He said if the Board wants to make any change to the salary, they should discuss it now so that people who are considering running for the position will know how much it pays. He said once candidates are already declared they might think salary changes are aimed at particular people. “If we do it now, it won’t be personal.”
Surdam said the current salary of $44,000 is just under the average for towns in NY State similar in size to Hoosick, according to a report provided by the Association of Towns. David Sutton said he thought it could be cut back, but not too much. He thought if it was cut back too much it would not attract qualified people to run for the office. He suggested a salary of about $40,000. Eric Sheffer said something similar, but did not mention numbers – “I see the need to cut it back, but not by too much.”
Jenn Hyde suggested a compromise of about $42,000. Jeff Wysocki concurred, saying his idea was to cut back to what it was before Sue’s most recent raise, which was $41,900.
Surdam said they will not take definitive action on it until budget time, but it appears the salary will be set somewhere between $40,000 and $42,000.
Supervisor Mark Surdam said the Town has made a payment to Pioneer Bank for $90,000 plus interest to pay off debt on the pool renovation project. The remaining debt of $330,000 was carried by a new BAN. Key Bank was the low bidder at 1.20%. The closing was completed on January 24.
Phase Two of the Pool Project will involve renovations to the Bath House. NYS Parks & Recreation has approved the scope modifications to focus on the Bath House improvements as there does not seem to be enough money to do the work on the filter house that was originally part of the scope of work for the project. Plans and specs and the bid documents have been sent by LaBerge to NYS Parks & Recreation for review prior to going out to bid.
Surdam said “It was our hope this project would be done before the start of the 2017 swim season. Due to the extensive contract delay related to the PFOA contamination issue and the time involved in meeting some of the Grant specifications it is looking more like this will be a fall of 2017 project.”
Since the Pool Pump/Filter House is not going to be renovated under the current grant, Supervisor Surdam met with Tom Marciotta, a local resident retired from the State where he specialized in working on rinks and pools, who has been very generous about sharing his expertise with the Town. They put together an outline of steps the Town can take to deal with safety related issues concerning chemical storage and dispersal. Additional information with cost estimates will be provided to the Board prior to the March meeting.
Woods Brook Grant
Now that the Village has received the funds for the Woods Brooks Grant of $23,560, the Town Board authorized Supervisor Surdam to sign the authorization to proceed with Barton & Loguidice Engineers to complete the Woods Brook Study and to pay half of the CFG match of $620 to the Village of Hoosick Falls.
The Town of Hoosick has been awarded a grant to purchase a stand-alone Metal Detector through the Justice Court Grant Assistance Program. Surdam thanked Court Clerk Jan Kimball for working on the grant application.
Surdam said he and Mayor Borge met with Howard Zemsky, CEO of Empire State Development and Commissioner of NYS Economic Development, to tell him that the Town and Village are hiring an economic development coordinator and would like to work with the State and see if the State can provide expertise or funding to extend local resources. While there, they also spoke with Alison Bates of the Broadband Program Office. She said one opportunity for Hoosick is that Charter Communications has made a commitment to extend service to an additional 145,000 homes, and they are studying now where they can most cost-effectively do that. Parts of Hoosick might get service as part of that initiative. Another opportunity is New York State grants that may be coming down the pike soon. Bates assured Surdam and Borge that Hoosick would not be forgotten when broadband extension is available. Surdam again urged residents who would like to have better internet service to call Charter and say Hoosick wants and needs broadband service.
Councilman Eric Sheffer said he spoke with the Town’s insurance carrier and was able to get a premium reduction on the town’s policy covering the fuel storage tanks at the Highway garage. The premium will be $350 instead of $435. The Board approved the policy. Sheffer said this month he will be working on renewal of the Town’s general liability policy.
Highway bids were opened for diesel fuel and heating oil. There was only one bid, from Doug’s Oil, and it did not contain the non-collusive bidding certificate requested by the Town, so the Town attorney said it should be tabled and rebid. There were no bids for Winter Sand, so that will be rebid as well.
In other news, the Board:
• approved purchase of a tow-behind sweeper for $19,246.80 from Capital Tractor. Shiland said it did not need to be bid because it is on State contract. He said it is just like the one they have now, which has served the Town for 20 years.
• approved use of skating rink by the Cambridge Central School Classof 2020 on March 2, 3:30 to 5:30. Surdam said, they were “optimistic.”
• agreed to write a letter of support to have the Sancoick Mill historical Marker moved to a more accessible place.
• agreed to write a letter of support for federal funding for conservation of Hay Berry Farm.
• heard from Charter Communications about renewal of the cable franchise, which expires in October of 2018. The Town Attorney will meet with them.
• set the Wood Memorial race for May 20 and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade for March 11. [/private]