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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 16, 2011

Berne Library finds a new home at St. Bernadette’s

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — After years of work to find a new home for the Berne Library, which has long been cramped for space at Town Hall, the town board voted last week to purchase the recently closed St. Bernadette’s Church to house the library.

The town had been planning an extension onto the Senior Center on Helderberg Trail, which would have served double-duty as the library and a meeting hall for Hilltown elders. The Senior Center had originally been built as a Grange Hall.

The church is also located on Helderberg Trail, right in the hamlet of Berne.

“The church, as we know, has been closed for quite a few months,” Supervisor George Gebe said of St. Bernadette’s.

In 2009, Bishop Howard Hubbard of the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese announced the closing of 33 churches in the 14-county diocese as the numbers of priests, nuns, and Catholics attending mass declined nationwide.

“We took a look at it and decided it would be a viable alternative to building on to the Senior Center, which actually would have reduced the parking lot, and would cost us twice as much as what St. Bernadette’s would cost,” Gebe said. “So, we decided at the last meeting to purchase that building.”

It was a unanimous decision at last week’s town board meeting, and a tentative closing date of July 15 was also announced. Purchasing the church will cost the town $205,000.

The town will now inform the diocese of the approval of the purchase.

“It was on the market; we gave them a bid and we negotiated some,” said Gebe. “Then, we had some time to look over the building to see if there were any problems we couldn’t deal with.”

Linda Carman, the Enterprise correspondent for the Hilltown Seniors, said, “Everybody is very happy about it.”

“They think it’s a great location for the library, and, if we ever get our senior housing, they can just walk right down there to the library. So, we’re quite pleased.”

She said of the town, “They still own our building, and they’re still going to take care of us, so we’re OK with that.”

Other business

In other business at its June 8 meeting, the Berne Town Board:

— Was formally presented the town’s revised comprehensive plan by James Cooke, who chaired the town’s comprehensive planning committee. The town board will hold a public hearing on the plan within 90 days, though it has not yet been scheduled.

The plan is available for review at Town Hall; for more on the revision process, go to www.AltamontEnterprise.com, and look under Hilltown Archives for Feb. 17, 2011;

— Voted to hire a temporary summer youth program coordinator as an emergency appointment. Once chosen, this position will pay $15 an hour, for up to 40 hours a week.

Said Gebe, “Because summer’s coming so close, the board felt they would like to get someone on board right away, rather than spending two to three weeks advertising, and maybe not even finding someone. We will advertise for a youth director to begin working in the New Year”;

— Adopted a local law that amends the town’s zoning ordinance to allow walls and fences up to four feet in height anywhere on a lot within a residential district, except in cases where traffic visibility is impeded.

“Solid fences and walls in a side or rear yard may be up to six feet in height,” the law reads, “provided that such fence or wall does not extend past the front façade of the building or house or side if the side borders a road (corner lot). A non-solid fence or wall not exceeding four feet in height, with at least 50 percent of the whole surface unobstructed and open in a uniformly distributed manner, is permitted from the front façade of the house or building to the property line. In any business or commercial district, there shall be no restriction on fences or walls, except on a residential or TN/MU district boundary line, where such fences or walls shall be in accordance with the provisions of Subsection L. Transition Requirement, herein”;

— Received a letter from Bart Mullen, president of the Warners Lake Improvement Association, expressing concern about an advertisement by Pleat’s Hofbrau on Route 157 for boat launching, boat docking, and boat storage.

“The Jewish Community Center is already running a day camp at this same location, which includes the use of four motor boats that have caused problems over the years,” Mullen wrote. “As president of the Warner's Lake Improvement
Association I am concerned that a new business of this nature could exacerbate the problems and have an adverse effect on the quality of Warner's Lake and the enjoyment of our, to date, 125 members”;

— Authorized Highway Superintendent Kenneth Weaver to purchase a culvert pipe for a price not to exceed $4,300;

— Authorized Weaver to purchase a used Gradall excavator for a price not to exceed $9,000, coupled with the sale of the town’s old excavator for scrap;

— Scheduled a workshop on a residential wind-power law for Wednesday, July 27, at 7 p.m.; and

— Scheduled a joint-planning meeting with all town boards for Wednesday, August 24, at 7 p.m.

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