Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news from Fri., Oct. 14 through Sun., Oct. 16:
Melanie Lekocevic reported in The Daily Mail on the public hearing held last week to hear the community response to plans for the village of Coxsackie to takeover the former American Valve property through eminent domain. One resident questioned the village's potential liability, and how the site would be used if the contaminated property is acquired. No one came forward to object to the proposal. The Mansion Street parcel has been vacant for decades. American Valve closed the plant in 1988, and abandoned the property, and it was subsequently declared a Superfund site in 1991 by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The federal Environmental Protection Agency currently lists American Valve as an active Superfund site. However, the EPA does not include it on the National Priorities List, indicating the federal agency does not consider it among the nation's most hazardous sites. If the village does acquire the property, the portion that remains contaminated will continue to be under DEC control. The village board has proposed using the location for the installation of solar panel arrays, but that is only one possibility, Mayor Mark Evans said. "We put on the paperwork that we were looking to do solar arrays, but we haven’t decided exactly what we will actually do with it," he said. The village board has yet to decide if it will move ahead with the proposal.
Rick Karlin reported at Capitol Confidential the results of third quarter sales tax collections indicate some unpredicted changes among upstate counties, according to the state Association of Counties. Sales taxes, as well as property taxes, are major sources of county revenue. Regionally, the news was good: Sales tax revenue from January through September was up. Columbia County increased collections by more than 4 percent; in Dutchess and Ulster counties, sales tax was up between 2 and 4 percent; and, in Greene, Albany and Rensselaer counties the sales tax gain was nearly 2 percent.
Emilia Teasdale reported in The Columbia Paper the group, Concerned Neighbors of Kinderhook Lake, has asked the state Department of Environmental Conservation to reconsider a permit for a gate at the boat launch on Rose Street Extension in Niverville. The gate has been proposed by the Kinderhook Lake Corporation, the non-profit corporation that owns and maintains the lake. The corporation asked the DEC for a permit to install the gate with a lock that can be opened only by its members. The corporation presently maintains a boat launch gate on county Route 28 in Niverville. The organization hopes the new gate will restrict larger boats that could transport invasive species into lake. In a letter to the DEC, Kinderhook Lake Corporation's lawyer stated, “smaller boats, such as rowboats, kayaks, canoes, sailboats and those who wanted to swim, wade, fish, etc. could still enter the lake at the Rose Street Extension location by going in the water around the gate.” The corporation maintains that only large boat users would need to pay $125 every year for a key to open the gate. The Concerned Neighbors group opposes the gate and told the DEC in a letter dated September 28, Kinderhook Lake has been designated a navigable waterway and that “the gate will restrict access and navigation.” The DEC rejected similar proposals in the past because of the lake's status as a navigable waterway. The DEC has not set a date for a public hearing or a deadline for a final decision on the corporation's proposal.
William J. Kemble reported in the Daily Freeman the state Public Service Commission has ordered fees that utilities can charge for the sale of streetlights to municipalities be finalized. This decision is expected to speed the move to public ownership and updating of fixtures. In its decision, the commission decided the cost of removing a fixture should be paid for by the municipality only if it requested the change. “If the removal is made at the request of the customer, the utility may charge the customer for this service,” they wrote. “Otherwise, the customer should not be charged.” The order was issued as communities such as Kingston and Rosendale, are considering moving to light-emitting dioder, or LED, lights. Those lights use far less electricity than traditional sodium vapor and mercury lamps.
Katie Kocijanski reported in the Register-Star the newly installed culvert on Pats Road in Ancram has angered neighbors. Town Supervisor Art Bassin said Pats Road residents attended the town board meeting last month and expressed their dissatisfaction with the size of the culvert and its high elevation, as well as the construction process. Resident Bill Cohan said the new culvert is located on his property. He said the town should have spent the money on something they really needed because the water from the stream has not risen in the 23 years he has lived there. Cohan said, "The culvert they put in there is completely out of proportion for a brook; it is an eyesore on the landscape." In 2015, the town received a $220,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation's Hudson Estuary Watershed Resiliency Project to fix the town's 100 culverts. Bassin said Pats Road residents were not supportive of the project when it was first proposed last year. He said it was the opinion of the town highway superintendent that the culvert was deteriorating and the road around it had started to erode, as well.
Karrie Allen reported in the Chatham Courier the state Thruway Authority is working on the overpass on Route 295 into East Chatham, reducing the road to one lane with a traffic light on each side. The Authority is also working on the overpass that spans Kinderhook Creek, as well. Additional work currently underway locally on the Thruway includes pavement resurfacing from the Canaan toll barrier to the Massachusetts state line and the repainting of four Columbia County bridges. That list includes: The Albany Turnpike bridge, the Brainard Station Road, or County Route 13, bridge and the eastbound and westbound bridges over Kinderhook Creek.
Ariél Zangla reported in the Daily Freeman Scenic Hudson’s newest preserve features views of the Hudson River and a trail that reaches the shores of Esopus Lake. The High Banks Preserve, located in Ulster Park off River Road, encompasses 287 acres of land Scenic Hudson acquired over a period of a few years. The land was scheduled for residential development years ago. The new preserve contains bluffs offering vistas of the Hudson River, as well as extensive wetlands, wildflower-filled meadows, hardwood forests and a shoreline along Esopus Lake. Scenic Hudson spent approximately $4.4 million to acquire the property, build the preserve and demolish dilapidated buildings from the former Camp Chi-Wan-Da. Scenic Hudson held the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sat., Oct. 15.