Sunday, February 25, 2018

Grafton Town Board Action

July 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Discord And Disconnect Over The Grafton Highway Department And Town Roads

By Doug La Rocque
During the public comment section of the Grafton Town Board meeting on July 10, Highway Department employee Jay Goyer read a letter he said was from Town Supervisor Ingrid Gundrum and one she confirmed she sent.[Private]In the letter, Goyer said the Supervisor calls attention to an e-mail from a town resident, and states she “has no expectation that anything will be done” to address his concern “or the general condition of the roads he cited in his complaint.”
Gundrum confirms in her letter that she is bringing forth what she labeled as “just one in an ongoing, never ending stream of complaints your Town Board receives daily about the deterioration and outright neglect plaguing a great majority of our town roads.”  The Supervisor also wrote that it is her firm opinion that all complaints going forward will be brought to the department employees. She further stated that only the Town of Grafton Highway Department can directly impact the quality of life of your friends and family that do live on these town roads, not any member of the Town Board or any other appointed official.  The letter was sent last Thursday as employees were leaving for the start of a three-day weekend.  Highway Department employees work four ten-hour days during the summer months. In the letter, Gundrum said, “as you prepare to (punch the clock) for your three-day weekend that you all enjoy all summer long, all I ask is that you just take a moment to read one example, and then perhaps take a moment or two thinking of the hardship and expense that your fellow towns people face by the simple daily act of driving to and from their mountain homes.”
Goyer told those assembled “I personally take quite an offense to that. This community means a hell of a lot to me, I don’t know about you? The people of this town, I put my life on the line for, I do my job every day, I do what I am told.  I am not the Supervisor (highway superintendent), we can only do what we are told.” He then asked Supervisor Gundrum if that was not a fair statement.She agreed that it was.  The discussion then centered around the relevance of notifying the employees about the complaints.
The question about if or when Superintendent Herb Hasbrouck received the e-mail complaint from the town resident was also raised. Gundrum said he, Hasbrouck, made the statement he never received the e-mail, and she said he got it first at his official town e-mail address.  In response, the Highway Superintendent said “I am not totally on the computer every day” and would appreciate a phone call or text message about all road complaints. As to the computer, Hasbrouck said he looks at it every couple of days. “But if we are busy, and there are washouts and stuff like that, I am not sitting in that office doing complaints, I’m out with the guys.”
Board member Eric Buckley, who serves on the highway committee, said they do get a lot of complaints, “and there is definitely a disconnect, and people are frustrated too, and it’s also been a tough spring.  He did credit Superintendent Hasbrouck for reaching out to the individual that complained and that he is working on the problem.  “There is definitely some friction here amongst us as department heads, and we’re trying to get a system that works.”  He also added “that there still is some more healing to be done.” The councilman also credited the Board with taking the initiative to start to address both the structure and equipment problems plaguing the department.
Looking At A Union
The Board and the employees in attendance did agree there was a need for more discussion, but if and when that would take place was also in question.  Some members of the Department recently signed cards requesting information about establishing a union, and Supervisor Gundrum received a letter from union officials acknowledging such.  According to Gundrum, in the letter it indicates all communications with the employees should go through them, and she said Town Attorney Sal Ferlazzo also had words of caution. Goyer said all they did was sign cards, that there is no official representation yet, and they feel free to talk to the Town Board.
Hasbrouck also updated the Board on that status of road repairs and what was damaged by the weekend storm.  At last month’s meeting, he also asked to rescind his proposed purchase of a new pickup truck for now, in favor of obtaining a new dump box for one of his larger vehicles.  He presented the Board with the specifications, and they approved the purchase as long as it remains under $50,000.  Since the purchase is being done under state bid, the Town does not need to request  bids.
DEC Checking Culverts
Highway Superintendent Hasbrouck told the Board he saw a black jeep stopped on Babcock Lake Road last week, occupied by two young women.  He said he stopped to make sure everything was alright, when they identified themselves as from the NYS Department of Conservation, and they were checking culverts that pass under roads to see if they are in compliance with new state laws.  These laws call upon municipalities to keep these culverts clean and passable for small forms of wildlife.  The Town Board also voted to accept Birch Crest Road as a town road, but is requiring lot # 7 in the development be kept in escrow until the road is inspected next spring or summer, to make sure it is being kept up to town standards.
Lots To Do At The Grafton Community Library
Library Director Ronny Tatro told the Board the Summer Reading program has kicked off.  The program is divided into three age categories, and has some special incentives for each group.  On Friday July 14, Whispering Willows Wildcare, with birds of prey and their talking raven will be in the backyard at 6 pm. Other upcoming events include making pressed flower art work and a repeat of the tie dying event on Saturday, July 22.  A complete list of the library’s summer events calendar is on their website.
Rescue Squad Captain Joe Allain reported they responded to 9 calls in June, and that they are now accepting applications for membership from non-Grafton residents, to help fill out the roster of volunteers.  These members would be required to be at the squad building for their shift.
Councilwoman Allison Kirchner said they have received the bid specs back from the Town Attorney with his approval, to purchase a new ambulance under the long-awaited state grant.  The Board agreed however, not to put the bid out until they receive the $150,000 check from the State.
In other business, the Board said it is pleased so many veteran’s banners were now hanging from light poles along Route 2, and though it might be a good idea to display them in the Senior Center over the winter.  Town Clerk Vicky Burdick turned over a check for $4,313.92 for June receipts from her office, and the Board approved the payment of $17,905.93 in bills. [/Private]


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