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Hilltowns Archives —The Altamont Enterprise, June 19, 2008

Town plans to repair Pearson Road — at last

By Tyler Schuling

RENSSELAERVILLE — Each day, a school bus travels twice over Pearson Road, a street that crosses the Fox Creek and is in need of costly repairs. 

For years, the Rensselaerville Town Board has discussed fixing the road and culvert and funding the project. 

The town is now hurrying to complete the work before the winter. 

Democratic Councilman Gary Chase told The Enterprise this week that water from the creek doesn’t only travel through the culvert, but that it also goes underneath it, washing out the foundation, which has caused the culvert and the road to sink. 

Last week, the town board had received responses from two firms — Chas. H. Sells Inc. and Ingalls & Associates — to complete the work.  Neither included cost estimates. 

G. Jon Chase, Rensselaerville’s highway superintendent, estimated the project at $300,000.  He said he wants the town to buy materials to save money.  Three years ago, he said, a hydrologist analyzed the site and found the culvert has dropped six inches.

Last week, Chase outlined funding.

Rensselaerville recently received over $115,000 from the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program, which is money the state reimburses to municipalities for road projects. 

“That money we still have,” said Chase.  “It has not been touched.”

He said he wants to use $50,000 of the CHIPs money for engineering costs for the Pearson project and that it must be spent this year.  He also wants to apply for $145,000 in CHIPs money, which, he said, would come in this year.  If roadwork is completed by August, he said, he can apply in September.  He said he cannot apply until bills are paid.  CHIPs money, Chase said, is going to run out soon. 

His son, Councilman Gary Chase, has continually referred to Federal Emergency Management Agency funds being set aside earlier by the town specifically for the Pearson project.  Supervisor Jost Nickelsberg said $186,000 is in the town’s highway reserve account.

The board scheduled a special meeting for Thursday, June 19, to discuss the Pearson Road project.


Since last fall, the board’s Democrats and Republicans have disagreed about whether the town should hire a mechanic.  Nickelsberg, a Republican, and the Chases, Democrats, have regularly argued the point. 

For the past two months, the highway superintendent has said he wants to use some of the CHIPs money to hire a mechanic.  Joseph Catalano, the town’s attorney, said last week, “They did loosen the requirements.” 

Catalano said, “You can’t deposit a CHIPs check into a personnel account.”

On hiring a mechanic, Nickelsberg has said the town is overstaffed “relative to neighboring towns,” specifically Durham.  Last week, he cited the highway superintendent’s earlier comments and said, “You’ve already said CHIPs money is dying.”  Nickelsberg has also disagreed because of the long-term cost of paying a mechanic’s salary, benefits, and pension. 

“I’m looking toward the future, too,” Councilman Chase said last week.  He said hiring a mechanic could make repairs at the town garage and Rensselaerville wouldn’t have to outsource the work.   

Last year, during budgeting, the Republicans held a majority on the town board and a mechanic’s job, which had initially been included, was eliminated. 

Councilman Chase said last week that hospitalization for a mechanic is still in the budget. 

He said after last week’s meeting that he and Nickelsberg will be doing a cost-benefit analysis.

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