May 2013 Supervisor’s Report

When I wrote the first Supervisors report in December of last year for our new web site release, I intended to write every quarter, now being the last week of May, I thought I should take a minute to share highlights of past few months in Town and County Government.

I mentioned in the last report that the Hydro-Electric plant was online. Progress continues there as both generators are functioning now most of the time. Periodic work on penstocks continues, as does plans for some building repairs at the plant. Albany Engineering plans a rededication for August to be celebrated on our annual Historic Stuyvesant Day which will be August 10th. Please plan to join us for a town wide picnic at the Sandbar at noon and you will be able to attend the rededication at 2pm that day, and see the plant in operation.

In February the Town engaged the services of BAS (Business Automated Services) to provide an automated backup service for all the town’s computers where critical information is automatically backed up and stored off site.

The Town Board appointed several residents to a newly formed zoning revision committee, which has been appointed to consider some zoning changes suggested by the comprehensive plan committee. Councilperson Kelley Williams has volunteered to head that committee.

Following a presentation made to the board last December regarding solar power for town hall, we had our town engineer draft an RFP to solicit proposals for leased photovoltaic power systems, as we had determined that purchasing such a system was not cost effective. Completing that process we have now signed a contract with Monolith Solar who will install a photovoltaic system at the town hall building for no cost to taxpayers and for the first year of operation we will purchase all kilowatts of electric used at town hall at a 50% discount from current prices and 25% discount for the next 20 years. This agreement should save taxpayers $900.00 a year for the next 20 years at current electric costs, which are only expected to increase, with no investment costs. Approvals from NYSERDA are currently being processed; expect to see installation sometime this summer.

At the March town board meeting we heard concerns from residents of the falls area regarding the events of last year’s fire at TCI and how the town could take proactive approach with such business’s in our town. I have spoke with Ben Webster as fire chief from the falls as well as our building inspector; they are looking into potential situations around town. We have also heard from Kathy Schneider who serves on the Counties Environmental Management committee that they are looking at future concerns as a county as well.

In April, the Board reappointed Howard Gleason to another 6-year term as the Town’s Sole Assessor. I think we are fortunate to have such a knowledgeable Assessor who knows real property tax laws as well as the lands and people of Stuyvesant. This year Howard has spent a great deal of time in the office reviewing the trends of real estate sales recorded in town in the last few years and making adjustments to the values of most homes to reflect those market prices. If you have not received a letter stating your assessment has gone up due to some improvements you might have made in the last year, you can call the office or look online to see your new assessment figure, which has probably been lowered.

Spring Cleanups were conducted around town once again being organized by Sean Cummings, with many local volunteers taking part. We thank them all.

Sean has also formed a nonprofit group called Stuyvesant pathways with 501c-3 status under the umbrella of OSI (Open Space Institute)

MISSION STATEMENT: The mission of the Town of Stuyvesant Trails Committee is to develop public recreational trails and improve existing trails to connect people to important natural, historic, cultural, and economic resources in the town and in neighboring communities.

The Committee reports to the Stuyvesant Town Board. The Committee’s efforts are guided by the Town of Stuyvesant Comprehensive Plan (1996), past surveys of residents’ recreational needs, and the strategic plans of local and regional land preservation and conservation groups. We expect this organization will help to complete some worthwhile projects around town.

The Stuyvesant Railroad Restoration committee continues to not only chip away at work on the depot but also has scheduled many events throughout the summer. Check the town calendar for dates and times of events occurring down there this summer. I would like to thank all those involved in the ongoing efforts at the depot.

The Kinderhook Library is once again hosting “Big Truck Day” here at the Town Hall on June 15th, come join us for a fun day.

I am told by DOT that August should be the start date of the construction of a new gated crossing on Ice House Road to provide improved access to the Hudson River, where we can then look forward to seeing DEC develop an improved waterfront recreational area, something we have been waiting for, for about 20 years now.

In County Government, I have been kept busy since January, when Chairman Grattan appointed me to a small committee to keep involved with the renovations at the Columbia County Courthouse. If you are not aware, this is a project that has been in the planning stages for 20 years, but is now underway. Once a week I meet with the Architects’, county staff and representatives from all the involved contractors at the site to oversee operations and help resolve issues as they arise. The project is moving along quite well with completion to be expected at the end of the year. It has really been a pleasure to be part of a renovation project of this size. No doubt the courthouse is the most historically significant buildings the county owns, and significantly important to the City of Hudson. Originally constructed in 1907, much of the building is in great condition, but many mechanicals are in need of upgrades as well as handicap accessibility and new bathrooms throughout. An older addition of the back has been removed and newly constructed addition on a slightly larger footprint is being built to house new court space and an elevator to access all three floors.

I served on a committee to find a new HR director and redefine the duties of that office, which turned out to be an educational exercise for me. We now have a new Director in place who I believe will do great job.

We recently approved a contract with an architectural firm to move forward with designing a new facility for Pine Haven, our County-owned nursing home. While the discussion will no doubt continue as to whether or not the County should be in the nursing home business, it was decided based on past studies that we should continue to research the actual cost of construction. The County has been awarded a CON or Certificate of Need which is an approval by the state for the reimbursement for the capitol cost of constructing a new facility.

I would hope that if anyone has questions, or concerns regarding any of these subjects or any others that you would call, email, or stop by the office. You could always attend a Town Board meeting which are held on the second Thursday of every month, feel free to stop by and enjoy some refreshments and visit with your neighbor.

Ron Knott      [email protected]