Berne making elbow room at Town Hall

Meeting rooms in bloom: This hand-drawn sketch provided by the town shows the wider, 36-inch doorways, meant to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, throughout the first floor of the Berne Town Hall. Offices will be relocated for more space since the library, which formerly occupied the right portion of the first floor, has been moved to a new location.

BERNE — New doorways and walls in Town Hall will make the former hotel more accessible to people with disabilities and open space for officials, Supervisor Kevin Crosier said.

The shift is temporary, Crosier said, with major town hall renovations years away. The smaller project is not to exceed $20,000 from the town’s capital projects fund, and he expects it to be complete by the end of March.

As the doorways are now, someone using a wheelchair doesn’t have enough space to access other rooms after entering the front of the building, Crosier said. He said the town’s meeting rooms will have new carpeting and paint.

Council members reviewed the changes at their Feb. 12 meeting, with a sketch that put the town clerk’s office in front of the first floor and her vacated space taken by the town’s senior account clerk, who now shares an office with Crosier.

“And it’s hard,” Crosier said last week. “And I’m on the phone, she’s on the phone, and I have a loud voice.”

The new location of the Berne library, across Helderberg Trail from the school, has office space that will be used by assessors. Their old space in Town Hall will be used as a small conference room, Crosier said.

The front of the town hall, where the library used to be, will be town Clerk Anita Clayton’s office. Behind her will be a larger space for board meetings, where computers and bookshelves once were. A wall separating the two rooms will have sound-deadening insulation, Crosier said.

Other business

In other business at recent meetings, the town board:

— Approved $40,000 for the purchase of a 2007 International single-axle truck, with a sander body, to replace an older one.

“This was a better truck,” Crosier said, noting it carries more sand and has an 11-foot angle blade. “…It’s for specifically around the lakes and stuff, because they can move the front of the plow. It goes either way.”;

— Modified the annual salaries of three town officials. Crosier said the amounts had been rounded during the re-organizational meeting, “but the numbers have to match the budget.” The new salaries are $9,050 for each town justice, $5,928 for the dog-control officer, and $1,040 for the registrar of vital statistics;

— Appointed Ralph Ives as a temporary part-time driver for the senior van at $14.04 per hour;

— Accepted in January the resignation of Katherine Hill-Brown as planning board member. The board appointed Hill-Brown as a permanent part-time clerk, at a rate of $15.98 per hour. Crosier said she would work with the planning and zoning boards, as well the building department and processing the town’s purchase vouchers;

— Viewed a sketch of a proposal by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation to place a concrete wall on the east side of the boat launch at Thompson’s Lake, to have a fire lane and parking accessible to those with handicaps.

The town owns the boat launch, Crosier said, and the DEC stocks the lake with the agreement that the town leaves it open to the public;

— Scheduled a public hearing on March 12 at 7:30 p.m. for a 180-day extension on the town’s hydraulic fracturing moratorium;

— Approved a State Environmental Quality Review for a project to replace a retaining wall along the Fox Creek near routes 156 and 443. The wall was damaged by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The review had a negative declaration, finding no significant adverse environmental impact;

Authorized a $224,355 bond resolution for the project to restore the Fox Creek retaining wall. The total estimated cost of the project is $236,163;

The money would be reimbursed through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state’s Emergency Management Office, Crosier said, but, because the project exceeds $60,000, the agency requires the town to spend the money first;

Authorized Crosier to enter into a “betterment agreement” with the state’s Department of Transportation to coordinate its project widening the intersection of routes 443 and 156 with the restoration of the Fox Creek retaining wall. The town will reimburse the department for its portion of the joint project;

— Passed a resolution in support of a Greenway Communities grant from the Hudson River Valley Greenway to help fund a farm brewery and business-plan incubator at the Carey Institute for Global Good in Rensselaerville;

— Approved the town’s procurement policy in January, with the following inserted: “All purchases of goods or services by a Town officer, board, department head or other personnel with the requisite purchasing authority shall require a purchase order.”;

— Appointed Timothy Lippert as the building, zoning, and flood plain administrator;

— Appointed Rick Rapp to a five-year term on the planning board, and Alan Rockmore for a term of one year; and

— Appointed Debra Bajouwa as alternate planning board member. 

More Hilltowns News

  • Todd Gallup, of Berne, pours slop for his pigs.

    Stephen Hadcock, Beginning Farmer Educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension, told The Enterprise that, over the last decade or longer, he’s seen an increase in the number of people who have taken steps to start their own farm. The Enterprise spoke with Hadcock and new Berne farmer Todd Gallup for insight into the process of starting a farm from scratch. 

  • Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s high- and moderate-risk sports — like volleyball, soccer, and football — have been postponed until March and will be played through April.

  • At its Sept. 10 regular meeting, the Knox Planning Board decided to wait until next month to weigh in on the Knox Town Board’s re-application to rezone approximately 80 acres of land at the intersection of routes 156 and 157 to a multi-use recreational district.

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