Highway Concerns Brought To Forefront Once Again
The Highway Committee of the Grafton Town Board (Council members Lisa Dooley and Eric Buckley) held an open meeting Monday, November 20, to discuss plans to contract out a portion of the town roads for snowplowing this winter. The meeting became a discussion of the many concerns about roads in the town, the condition of the Highway Department’s equipment, staffing levels and overall cooperation between officials. Councilman Buckley summed it up this way, when speaking to Highway Superintendent Herb Hasbrouck. “There is an obvious big disconnect between the highway crew, yourself and Town Supervisor Ingrid Gundrum. That is why it is a good idea to have this meeting.” As to that comment, Superintendent Hasbrouck agrees, and tells The Eastwick Press, I am willing to do whatever I can to resolve this situation for the best of the town.” That is a sentiment echoed by Supervisor Gundrum, who said she is willing to work with the Department and the Superintendent.
The Board agreed at its November 13 meeting, to put $30,000 into the 2018 budget to contract out some of the snowplowing, but Mr. Buckley said that at this point, he has not seen any specifics for such a bid, but believed Supervisor Gundrum was working them out with the Town Attorney, Sal Ferlazzo. The Supervisor confirmed this in her conversation with The Eastwick Press, and indicated that she or the highway committee will invite Superintendent Hasbrouck to sit down with them very shortly to discuss exactly what roads would be part of the contract and what conditions would trigger the private plowing. At the previous Board meeting, Ms. Gundrum indicated she would like to see the northeast corner of the town be part of this, in particular Babcock Lake and Josh Hall Pond Road.
There was much discussion as well about what all agreed was a deteriorating Highway Department fleet of equipment. Councilwoman Dooley repeatedly asked Mr. Hasbrouck for a wish list to help correct this. He replied his most pressing need was for another tandem truck to replace the 2001 International. He has estimated this cost to be about $250,000. Ms. Dooley pointed out the Town Board has put $70,000 in the budget over the past two years for equipment replacement, and asked Mr. Hasbrouck what would be the best route, taking advantage of a state bid or bidding it out themselves. Mr. Hasbrouck replied he would have to see what is available. New York State has its own bidding process that meets legal requirements and purchasing a vehicle off their list fulfills a municipality’s legal bidding obligation.
The 2018 budget, adopted by the Town Board at its November meeting, reduces the size of the Highway Department by one position, not replacing a recently resigned employee. Mr. Hasbrouck also says he has one person out on sick leave at the moment. That begged the question, if it snows, is the town ready to plow. The Superintendent says he is, but repeated his concern about getting around all the beats in the usual amount of time. The Supervisor says she is also confident the Highway Department can handle a storm, and reiterated that the Board also approved the hiring of part-time personnel for snow removal if necessary.