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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 19, 2012

Town gets another $60K for storm repairs
Rensselaerville wary about county-wide shared-services study
By Zach Simeone

RENSSELAERVILLE — As the county secures grant funding to study the potential savings in sharing highway services among its municipalities, the Rensselaerville Town Board showed caution at this month’s meeting during a conversation about the study with Highway Superintendent Randall Bates and Albany County Legislator Deborah Busch.

The board also heard from Bates that Rensselaerville has been approved for close to $480,000 in federal funding for projects to repair damage from Tropical Storm Irene. Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state would be covering municipalities’ 12.5-percent share of repairs from the floods. For Rensselaerville, that means another $60,000.

And the town could get an additional $244,000 from the National Resource Conservation Service to go towards stream repairs in Preston Hollow, which would be coordinated by the Albany County Soil and Water Conservation District, Bates said. But that funding has not yet been secured.

Study sharing

Municipalities have been asked to pass a resolution as a formal agreement to pursue a $75,000 grant from the state to fund the countywide shared-services study. While Bates had expressed interest to the county in pursuing the grant, the board had not passed the resolution, and was hesitant to do so because of a line in the resolution that requests a “memorandum of understanding” from participating municipalities.

Members of the audience and the town board were concerned that, by passing the resolution, Rensselaerville would be forced to share services, or consolidate, after the study was complete. But, according to County Executive Daniel McCoy’s office, that is not the case.

“The memorandum of understanding is basically something that would formalize the simple fact that they were going to participate in the study,” Mary Rozak, a spokeswoman for the county executive, told The Enterprise this week. “We may not actually even have to do that, but, in the end, this is not something that would bind them to anything more than participating in the shared-services grant and study.”

When asked if there was a document that outlined the actual study, should the funding come through, Rozak replied that she was not comfortable sharing the document.

“This is an internal document talking about how we’re going to do things,” said Rozak. “It’s preparation, and what’s going to be asked of municipalities.”

The study would be performed by the Laberge Group, based in Albany. Earlier this month, The Enterprise spoke with Benjamin Syden, the director of planning and community development for the Laberge Group, about a similar study performed in Chemung County, New York in 2010. (For the full story, go to www.AltamontEnterprise.com, and look under archives for April 5, 2012.)

At the Rensselaerville meeting, Bates told the board that, while he is interested to see what savings could be discovered in the study, it may prove difficult for the town to share services with the county.

“Our equipment is very specific for our roads,” Bates said. “Because of the steepness and grades, and the narrowness of the roads, and we have very narrow bridges, the county trucks wouldn’t be able travel our bridges and navigate our roads.”

He went on, “Our trucks aren’t equipped to do highways. Our plow and wing configurations…aren’t suitable for that. So, they aren’t interchangeable in that sense.”

Legislator Busch, a Knox native, expressed her uncertainty that participating in the study would be beneficial for the town.

“I think the Hilltowns are more concerned about maintaining their sovereignty, that they maintain their own identity,” said Busch. “They don’t want to be grouped together. We have too large of a geographic area to be grouped together.”

She also suggested asking representatives from neighboring Westerlo for their views, since the town currently shares services with Westerlo when the need arises.

Westerlo Supervisor Richard Rapp said this week that the town is willing to participate in the study, “But we want to make sure we get that funding.”


Also at the Rensselaerville board’s meeting, Bates told the council that nearly all projects to restore the damage from Tropical Storm Irene have been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and will total $479,000. The rest should be approved at the town’s exit meeting with FEMA next week, Bates said, and the town will be working with the State Emergency Management Office from then on.

The dam behind the grist mill, which houses the Rensselaerville Historical Society in the hamlet, sustained $52,000 worth of damage, and the repair project has been approved for FEMA funding, which includes the cost of an engineer’s design.

But the town will have to get a permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for the project.

“EnCon’s permit process isn’t horrible,” Bates told the board. “The problem is, it’s a dam, and it becomes part of a dam-permitting process, which is more complicated.”

The town has also been approved for $219,000 of funding for roadwork.

When Irene hit Rensselaerville in August, then-Highway Superintendent David Potter said that nearly half the roads in town needed repair, mostly due to washed out culverts and shoulders. But Gulf Road, Tigner Lane, and South Street sustained heavy damage.

The hamlet of Preston Hollow was completely flooded, and the town is expecting about $100,000 in FEMA funds to repair Bayard Elsbree Memorial Park; $67,650 of that work has already been approved, and the remaining $33,000 is expected to be approved next week.

“The third category is streams,” Bates said at the board meeting, “which is everything that’s not the park and not highway.” Those projects will cost another $159,000, the funding for which has been approved.

Other business

In other business at its regular April meeting, the Rensselaerville Town Board:

— Voted to rent a sweeper for the highway department, which would be used to remove sand, salt, and other highway materials that are spread throughout the winter, and can be hazardous for some vehicles, Bates said. The sweeper will be rented from A. Montano Company, the lowest bidder, for $625 a week;

— Voted to purchase a broom from Abele Tractor and Equipment Company in Albany, the lowest bidder, for $5,447. The broom, which attaches to a tractor, is used to clean roads at the end of a workday during the construction season;

— Voted to purchase fuel at the following prices: low-sulfur diesel at $3.68 per gallon; winter-blend diesel at $3.74 per gallon; and No. 2 heating fuel at $3.74 per gallon, all from Mirabito Energy Products; and unleaded gasoline at $3.54 per gallon from Main Care;

— Voted to rent an excavator for work on Gulf Road, which is currently closed due to damage from Tropical Storm Irene. Three culverts have to be replaced, Bates told the board, and the stream bank must be restored. The incoming FEMA funding covers materials, labor, and equipment, which would include the monthly fee of $3,655 to rent the excavator from Finke Equipment;

— Voted to hire Ted Lounsbury’s Triple L Landscaping for the mowing of the town parks in Rensselaerville and Medusa, for $1,965, as Lounsbury was the lowest bidder;

— Voted to hire A&C Fence to replace the fencing in Bayard Elsbree Memorial Park. Though New York State Fence Inc. was the low bidder, board members thought that the specifications provided by the company were insufficient, and they were unsure of what the town would be purchasing;

— Heard from Councilman Robert Bolte that the Veterans of Foreign Wars Committee’s memorial garden, which has been designed around the flag pole outside Town Hall, will be lit by a stainless-steel ring about five feet up the flagpole, with all light directed down at the garden, and veterans’ names will be displayed on a stainless-steel panel that follows the circumference of that ring;

— Heard from Councilwoman Margaret Sedlmeir that there will be a pulled-pork dinner to raise funds for the repair of Bayard Elsbree Memorial Park in Preston Hollow, which sustained heavy damage in the August floods. The event will take place on Sunday, April 22, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Medusa firehouse;

— Heard a request from Barry Gerson of Burkhardt Road that all truck traffic, going to and coming from the nearby Cooksburg Lumber Company, be banned from his road. This would be accomplished by posting signs at both ends of the road, he said.

“The road is a one-way road, which is ignored by the truck traffic coming into and out of the Cooksburg lumberyard,” said Gerson. Those trucks, he said, should be entering and exiting the lumberyard on Route 145.

“They just do whatever they want, and they’ve caused a lot of damage to Burkhardt Road,” he said. “And the trucks have been driving on my lawn to widen the road, so that they can turn onto Potter Hollow Road. They, then proceed to Route 145 anyway, so they could have just gone right through the yard, onto 145 to begin with.”

Thomas Fallati of Tabner, Ryan, and Keniry, a firm that was appointed as attorney to the town in January, said that he would take Gerson’s request under advisement.

Gerson also asked about the possibility of developing a noise ordinance, as he is sometimes bothered by the sound coming from the lumberyard.

“He’s keeping within hours of operation,” Councilwoman Marion Cooke said. “You can’t tell them to stop their saws.”

Gerson replied, “You don’t hear the saws; you hear the motors. It’s a loud humming, and it goes over all the other sounds. The other sounds are just like normal working sounds, which aren’t a bother.”

Again, Fallati said he would have to research the situation;

— Heard from Assessor Richard Tollner that, while Grievance Day is officially May 27, town residents will also have a chance to grieve their assessments on May 12, and additional dates may be scheduled; and

— Appointed Scott Kunkler of Medusa to the planning board, for a term to expire on Dec. 31, 2014. Planning Board Chairman Richard Amedure told The Enterprise Wednesday that Kunkler’s living in Medusa was one of the things that made him an asset, “Because we like to keep the planning board spread throughout the town,” Amedure said. “You want everyone to know they’re represented.”

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