by Bea Peterson
Highway Superintendent Herbert Hasbrouck told the Grafton Town Board at its regular meeting on Thursday, March 19, that the latest update he had from the State was that improvements to Route 2 had been bounced back to 2011. Town Supervisor Allison Hallenbeck-Kirchner said she had been told last year that funds had been secured for work to begin this spring for the road to be milled and filled (repaved) from Route 278 to the center of Town. When Hasbrouck asked about stimulus money he was told by DOT those funds would be used for bridges, not for roads that can be fixed for small amounts. Hallenbeck-Kirchner said she will write to NY Senator Roy McDonald to see what can be done. Board members were upset by this news. Councilperson Michael Crandall said he drives from Grafton to State St. in Albany all week and the only road he cannot do the speed limit on is Route 2. Councilperson Edward Fredricks said the poor quality of the road is costing every person that drives it. He said people from Petersburgh and Berlin are going up 84 to avoid Route 2.
Hasbrouck also reported that a decision has yet to be made on pricing for the culvert on Johnson Road. He said the Town may get some money back from FEMA for damage during the ice storm. The deadline for submitting requests to FEMA has been extended 30 days. Hasbrouck began his report by saying “weather permitting, mud season is here.”
Hasbrouck said he was one of 500 Highway Superintendents who marched on the State Capital to have CHIPS funding restored. He said it was restored through the stimulus package this year at the same figures as last year. He said there were 18 Superintendents from Rensselaer County. “The good numbers helped us do things,” he said.
Code Enforcement Officer Tom Withcuskey reported he had issued six building permits. He has a list of junk cars to be removed and buildings to come down, and he will be pushing aggressively to get this done.
The Rescue Squad responded to seven calls in February, traveling 197 miles and utilizing 45 man hours.
The Town received a Municipal Shelter Report stating that Creekside Kennels in Poestenkill had passed inspection. The Town will continue to use the Kennel for housing stray dogs.
The Town Clerk’s report and the Dog Control Officer’s report were accepted as submitted. Hallenbeck-Kirchner introduced the new dog control officer, Allison Kirby. The Supervisor said she is doing an excellent job. “She’s out there.” Kirby said she likes the job.
Youth Director Michelle Thompson reported she is not getting many people to sign up for programs. Councilpersons Barbara Messenger and Marie Claus will meet with her to work on some program ideas.
Help For Low Income Homeowners
The Town received a letter from the Commission on Economic Opportunity outlining three NYS programs for low income homeowners related to owner occupied homes in need of repair. The forms are on file with the Town Clerk.
No Free Days At The Transfer Station
Hallenbeck-Kirchner said that due to significant increases in garbage and recycling fees the Town would be unable to offer free recycling days this year. She hopes the plan can be resumed next year. She also reported that the Town is no longer accepting televisions and computer monitors as they have no outlet for them. The cost to recycle them is more than $40 apiece. Fredricks said he had been working for a week and a half to find another outlet but had not been successful to date.
In other business the Board approved:
ź Extending the appointment of Allison Kirby as Dog Control Officer from March 31 to December 31, 2009.
ź Extending the appointment of Owen Grandjean as Chairman of the Planning Board from March 31 to June 30, 2009.
ź Change orders for work being done by A.J. Arpey in the Town Hall. It was noted the work is going extremely well and is ahead of schedule.
ź A request by the Grafton Historical Society to use the Everett Wagar Senior Center on March 18, April 15 and May 20, 2009.
On April 2 at 6:30 pm a Public Hearing will be held on the creation of new road weight restrictions for all Town roads.
At 6:45 pm a hearing will be held on the Richard and Patricia Goyer Clickner Road property. The acquisition of this property alleviates a dangerous blind curve proceeding into the County road.
Hilda Goyer asked the Board why the Record newspaper and not the Eastwick Press was the Town’s legal paper since the Eastwick gives the Town so much more coverage. Hallenbeck-Kirchner said the Record is a daily and sometimes legal notices had to be published sooner than they could be in the weekly paper. The Record, she said, also has a wider circulation. The Town could have two legal papers, she asserted, but prefers not to have the extra expense.
School Buildings Belong To All District Taxpayers
Grafton resident John Nash told the Board he had spoken at the Stephentown Town Board meeting the previous week about the decisions being made by the Berlin Central School Board. He noted that the School Board had been adamant that Berlin Elementary had to be upgraded before the Stephentown Elementary students could be moved into the building and no additions or renovations have been made to accommodate those 50 students. In 2010, he said, there will be 100 students added to the structure. “All of a sudden it’s okay [to add these students].” He’s concerned about the health and safety of the students and that the school might lose its certificate of occupancy.
Nash said a survey was sent to residents of Stephentown asking them what they wanted to do with the vacant Stephentown school building. “All buildings belong to the entire school district and to all taxpayers,” he said. He encouraged the Grafton Board to keep its eyes open so that a “sweetheart deal is not done on the (Stephentown) building.” He said the survey should have gone to everyone in the District. He said everything is always put forward by the School District as a fiscal crisis. “The District has 940 students. That doesn’t include special education students, home schooled or private school children. That total is 1,044.” He noted that 16 kids dropped out of school last year and nine have dropped out this year. He said another baby boom is expected in the next five or six years with the return of war veterans. “The District has 4.8 million dollars invested in different accounts. A good percentage of that could be liquidated, plus capital reserve. I don’t buy the financial crisis.” He said if the average person learned what he learned they would be outraged. He has taken it on as his job to help keep the public informed.
“New York State is ten years behind the country,” he said. “One large school does not help. Consolidation is not the way to go.”
Councilperson Fredricks told Nash that the taxpayers in Town appreciate you guys going over and above. Fredricks said bitterly, the school district he works in “chased me out two years early.”
For the record, the Grafton Town Board wrote a letter opposing the closing of the Grafton School.