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Special Workshop Meeting of the Town Board, June 4, 2012

My notes on the Town Board Workshop Meeting June 4,2012.

The Town Board held a workshop meeting designed to offer an opportunity to discuss certain issues before the Board in an informal way. Because of scheduling problems, two Board Members, Joan Snyder and Mike Mortenson were absent, and the Supervisor, Roy Brown, and Board Members Joel Craig and Don Westmore were in attendance. Town Clerk Charlene Diehl was also there to take minutes. Others attending the meeting were several members of the Park Commission, which had had an hour-long meeting from 5:30 to 6:30 PM, just prior to the scheduled Board meeting. Attending: Corrine Curry, Faydra Geraghty, Kay Abraham, Nikki Sacco-Brown, Austin Pendleton, George Sharpe Sr, Kathy Overington, Jesse Bender, Sharon Nordfors and Andrea Dunn and Kerrie Abelia.

The Park Commission meeting was taken up with the proposed plan for the Lion’s Club “Hudson Valley Apple Festival”, which is scheduled to be held on September 22 & 23. Roy Brown and Nikki Saco-Brown came to discuss the plan and to ask for the Park Commission’s help and cooperation in making the program successful, and offering to share the profits with the Park Commission for its own projects. The event is to be modeled on the successful Garlic Festival held annually in Saugerties. Nikki and Roy have been researching other Festivals and special events held in the area for ideas about what would be good to include and what should be left out. They are reaching out to vendors to participate and are brainstorming ideas about entertainment activities to attract families. They couldn’t have come to a better group as several of the Park Commission members had interesting ideas to share about possible activities. Please look at the website: hudsonvalleyapplefestival.com for extensive information. The two organizations plan to meet again before the next Town Board meeting (June 18th) to make further plans.

At 6:30 Roy Brown called the Town Board meeting to order. The meeting continued with discussion with the Park Commission about the proposed playground equipment purchase for the improved Playground area in Palatine Park. Andrea Dunn brought catalog pictures of a range of playground equipment that they had to choose from. The nature of the equipment and its value for children’s play were discussed. There is a reserved fund of approximately $50,000, a donation that was dedicated to just such an effort. In addition, there is another amount of nearly $12,000 that can be used for recreational purposes. Talks will be underway to discuss to what extent the playground equipment can be paid for.

Sidewalk Improvements: The Town held two meetings, one on Wednesday April 30 for the 13 property owners along the Right-of-Way (ROW) and another one for the general public on Saturday morning June 2nd. The Wednesday meeting focused on the legal aspects of the need for access to install the sidewalks and the accompanying infrastructure. The issue of “Temporary Easement’ and “Permanent Easement” were clarified. There were 9 property owners at Wednesday’s meeting and another 2 at the Saturday morning meeting. At this point there is only one property owner who is balking at the project. He told Roy that he was retaining legal representation to look after his interests. Roy said there was a possibility to eliminate that particular short stretch of sidewalk out of the improvement plan if necessisary, but the project would go ahead.

They are using the original engineering firm to complete the final draft design that will be which was submitted to the County and the Department of Transportation for approval within 30 days. The plan is then passed up to the Federal level (because of the funding) for final approval, another 45 days for completion. At that point detailed engineering drawings will be done and the rest of the project will be in the hands of the new firm to handle until completion. It is possible that some of the initial work can be begun in the fall, however the actual construction will be ready to begin in early spring of 2013. (See additional information at the end of the article.)

They will be consulting with the businesses and residents all along the project to try to make the impact as little as possible. Access to businesses, mailboxes, driveways, etc., will be assured. Roy said there were no plans to remove the existing sidewalk from Maple St to the Post Office, but the corner would have handicapped curb cut access cut into the walks.

Roy advised the group that the plans are as “Tree Friendly” as possible. The plan will include potential sites for new trees to be planted. There will be strategically placed conduits provided in the structure for future lighting changes for the hamlet, at least right in the center of town. Also, the was a suggestion from George Sharpe Sr. that there could be granite curbs placed along Main street where the impact of parking was the greatest. Granite, being the most enduring curb substance, would be warranted there but the rest of the curbing could be concrete to lower the total cost.

Condition of the Lake: It is currently being treated against the algae and the Water Chestnuts. There is no treatment against the duckweed, which requires another special permit from the DEC and would be hard to administer, and has a low chance of working anyway. The best solution would be to drain the lake and dredge it. There is a possibility that the County might be able to dig up the lake bottom in the fall. This would be much cheaper than hireling a professional company to do it. Whether this “digging up” would be equivalent to “dredging” needs to be determined. At any rate, draining and digging up would remove the imbedded invasive weeds and deepen the Lake. The slope for the beach area would need to be maintained. If the Lake is drained the fish need to be removed to another location. What about the swimming program for this year? It seems that the digging up would not take place until the fall, for both environmental and logistical reasons, so the Lake could be used this summer. In view of the need for future expenditures, particularly to keep the lake free of invasive plants, closing the lake to swimming permanently was suggested. This would save some $12,000 annually in lifeguard salaries that could be spent on other activities such as the summer park program. Germantown residents desiring swimming lessons could be bused to other communities with pools. Building a pool in Germantown would be prohibitively costly, and perhaps even more expensive to maintain. However, it is a struggle to fight the weeds in the Lake and the Lake loses even its visual appeal because of the clogged water. It’s a thorny decision to make but probably should be made before next year’s budget process begins in the fall.

Joel brings up the issues of the Anelema and the 9/11 Monument. No progress has been made to build the surrounding low rock wall around the Anelema. Don Westmore volunteered to speak with Dea Archbold and Kurt Holsapple about their thoughts. Efforts have been made to find a donor for building the concrete base for the steel beams of the proposed 9/11 Monument. Mark Stickles has offered to construct the base, but needs to have some design information about how deep/strong it needs to be to hold the beams safely. He will assess the plans. There is about $1,200.00 in the donated fund to pay for all costs. A path needs to be made to it, and a bench will be re-installed as well.

Sewer Repairs: The Town has sent out RFP (Request for Proposals) that ask for estimates and to include basic information about the possible costs/benefits of expanding the Sewer District. They are seeking cost comparisons among the many varieties of pipes to use: Galvanized vs. Composite vs. Plastic, etc. The Town will open three responses at the June 18th Board meeting. There is a potential $1.4 million low interest loan consolidation offer to consider, which would finance the repairs and re-finance the initial loan. There is a grant that an be applied for to do a study on the cost/benefit of the plans.

Ethics Committee: Roy tells the group that the current County Ethics Board is functioning well and that there are 4 or 5 Towns who have closed their own Ethics Boards and are referring complaints to the County Board. A few others are considering doing it. It has been suggested that Germantown do the same. We have a 3 member Board, one of whom has been taken off because of a ruling that a judge could not sit on the Board the other because she had been on it for 15 plus years and is now done, There are pros and cons to both sides of the issue. It is sometimes a problem, in a small town where so many people are related and or close friends or neighbors, to rule on a question without bias. On the other hand, sending issues to the county could bring decisions that suffered from unknown bias or political influences. Joel says that he had had to make tough decisions as Chair of the Planning Board that affect neighbors and friends but it has to be done with as much objectivity as can be found. The same is true of the ZBA and the assessment board. George Sharpe said if there were 5 members instead of just 3 it would be easier for someone who had a conflict to recuse him- or herself since a majority agreement would come about with three votes. There was general agreement that everyone felt it would be better to keep the Ethics committee as a Town committee and that increasing the membership to 5 might offer a good solution. Please note: Over the past ten years there have been only 3 cases brought for decision to the Committee.

Hydro-Fracking Moratorium: As a part of the Moratorium it was spelled out in the resolution that there would be some educational component for town residents to determine a final outcome. The Town wishes to sponsor a public meeting where aspects of the impact on our community would be discussed, with experts on both sides making presentations. They will look into the likely participants in such a program and set a date after the speakers can be set.

Joel Craig brings up three issues to be considered: Policy Manual: Whenever it is looked at for guidance there seems to be empty gaps and sometimes overlapping or inconsistent policies in the manual. He suggests that the Town set up a committee to study the Manual and make recommendations.

Cell Phone policy—needs to be established for Town employees.

Budget Process: Joel would like some things done prior to the actual putting the budget together, such as making an effort to consolidate the propane vendors so there weren’t 5 different propane rates to consider.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:05 PM  Please Note further clarification from Roy, below: Kay Abraham 537-5404

Additional clarification about the June 4th meeting, from Roy: The Apple festival is expanding their need for assistance and [that is] the reason the Park Committee was approached.

The “final” sidewalk draft was already submitted two weeks ago with all comments raised by DOT answered. They will take approximately 30 days to review, once the review is complete and approved, it will be forwarded to the FEDS for environmental compliance. (These time frames are certainly subject to change as any requests for additional answers to more questions from DOT will extend these aprox timelines) A “Phase II” sidewalk paths project was submitted in 2008. This project was reviewed by/and the local committee agreed it should be approved for funding, but the local committee recommended not sending forward to DOT for funding until the Phase I project was well underway.

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