by Jackolyn Houghton
Mayor Allen Takes Over
On Tuesday, April 11, Rob Allen opened his first Village of Hoosick Falls Board meeting as the Mayor. It began with the Organizational meeting.[private] Allen proposed to replace the Revitalization Committee with a Marketing and Events Committee, with Trustee Kevin O’Malley heading up the events and new Trustee Brian Bushner heading up the marketing. Allen appointed Trustee Robert Ryan as Deputy Mayor. The Board then unanimously approved a list of appointments to Village positions, which were mostly re-appointments of incumbents, except for Village Attorney, which was taken up later in the meeting. Allen also motioned to re-adopt the current policies without changes, which also passed with a unanimous vote. The Eastwick Press was named the official paper for the Village of Hoosick Falls (with Trustee Brian Bushner voting against the motion), with the Eagle to be utilized when needed, and Key Bank was named the official Bank of the Village. Allen then moved to close the Organization Meeting and move into the Regular Meeting.
The Trustees voted to re-hire long-time Village attorney John Patterson on a temporary basis, for a 2 to 6 month agreement with a 30 day notice accommodation for either party. Mayor Allen said after the meeting that he has had lengthy discussions with Patterson on this and many other topics. He said the discussions have been cordial, and he described Patterson as an “exceptionally honorable guy.” He said Patterson is “contemplating retirement,” and has some illness in his family, so he is amenable to the idea of bringing his long service to the Village to its close. Allen said Patterson is interested in doing what’s best for the Village. Allen said the Village will be looking for a new attorney, but the temporary appointment of Patterson allows them to do it in an unhurried manner. Allen also felt that he could learn a lot from working with Patterson for a few months, remarking that Patterson “has been involved in so much” of what the Village has been through in recent years.
At public comment time Jim Martinez, Village resident and President of Tri-State Credit Union, asked Mayor Allen if he had received documents mentioned in a story in that day’s Times Union, and Allen replied that he had not received them. The documents he was referring to are e-mails between former Mayor Borge and attorneys with the Glens Falls firm of Fitzgerald Morris Baker Firth, which was handling matters related to PFOA and negotiations with Saint-Gobain and Honeywell for the Village, and also communications between Fitzgerald Morris attorneys and the two companies responsible for the PFOA contamination in the Village, Honeywell and Saint-Gobain. At the time of the meeting, Allen had been seeking those documents for a week or more without success, but he said later that he had received everything he needed from Fitzgerald Morris. Allen is reviewing a great deal of material so that he can get fully up to speed, as he takes over management of the negotiations with Honeywell and Saint-Gobain on behalf of the Village.
Allen also said after the meeting that he is following through on the process begun by former Mayor Borge to borrow money to pay off the Village’s debts to attorneys and engineers incurred in responding to the PFOA crisis, to be paid off when the Village reaches a settlement with Saint-Gobain and Honeywell concerning those costs.
The Board of Trustees passed the Village’s budget for the upcoming year at the April 11 meeting. It contains a tax levy increase of 1.04%, which is less than the tax cap, so residents are eligible for tax relief checks when and if they are forthcoming.
Village Treasurer Denise McMahon said in her report that projections of revenue from the Water, Sewer and Garbage will be known in about a week; Police Chief Robert Ashe recited the number and kind of police incidents over the previous month. He reminded residents there is no open burning until May 15 and asked residents to be aware that bears are coming out of hibernation at this time so food waste containers need to be secured. He thanked Niel Stowell,Village Highway Superintendent and his crew for a quick set-up and breakdown of the Lace Up For a Cure Road Race route. Mark Surdam’s code enforcement report detailed his activities. He continues to be very busy, with many ongoing cases and a number of them being pursued in court. The Village Clerk’s report said 5 single family properties were sold along with 1 owner-occupied two-family. She added that the water bills will be mailed shortly; Economic Development Coordinator Brighid Buzzell, requested mileage reimbursement and a NEDA membership which costs $125 annually. She said in March she began the process of getting to know people and started a social media inventory.
In other business:
• The Board approved Jason VonGuinness’ request for a NYS liquor license for Hoosick Package on Classic Street and accepted Robert Downing’s resignation as the Village representative to the Eastern Rensselaer County Solid Waste Management Authority. Items not approved were Hoosick Kitchen Catering’s request for a liquor license, to which Brian Bushner objected, and HAYC3’s request to plant donated trees in Wood Park. The plan is to have Jerry McAuliffe supervise community service laborers for both the planting and management of them going forward. The Board felt they need to gather more information about these two items, and they will take them up again at the May meeting.
• Residents were reminded that a Household Hazardous Waste Day will be held Saturday, April 29 beginning at 8 am at the Village transfer station. Residents must register online at www.villageofhoosickfalls.com.
• Cheney Library Board member Emily Sanders informed the Board that the Cheney Library will be seeking a ballot proposition which would increase their annual revenue from the taxpayers by $50,000, bringing it to $95,000 annually. This was the same presentation she made to the Town Board the night before. The first step is to gather 210 signatures for their petition to put the measure on the ballot for November 2017. The Library invites all Hoosick Falls residents to stop in at the library if they are interested in signing.
• Trustee O’Malley proposed an event to support local businesses on Saturday, July 22 from 4 to 8 pm featuring the band Blues for Breakfast. The band’s fee would be $1,800, but O’Malley said he would fundraise privately through local corporations for a total of $2,000 to cover the cost of the event. He also proposed September 30 from 8 am to 4 pm as the date for the 4th Annual Walter A. Wood Tractor Show.
• Ben Patten mentioned the street sweeping schedule, beginning May 8 for the downtown and business sections of the Village and the week of May 14 for 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st wards. The schedule can be found on the village’s website.
• The Trustees approved a raise in pay for Ken Holbrook, current WasteWater Treatment Plant Assistant Operator, who will be taking over from Daniel Merrills Jr. as Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator once he receives his certification. Current WasteWater Treatment Plant Operator Dan Merrills has taken another job, but is continuing to serve 4 hours a week until Holbrook is certified. The Board passed a motion to advertise for a Wastewater Treatment Plant Assistant Operator.
The Board held an executive session at the end of the meeting to discuss legal issues.[/private]