Friday, July 14, 2006

July Town Board Meeting

It was a full agenda. And I missed seeing Simon in the audience. I think this is the first regularly scheduled meeting I've been at that Simon wasn't at.

The public hearing for Clifford Smith Electric & Realty's Dollar Store project was kept open 'til next month. They've decided to subdivide the property (that open field just north of A-1). Their overall plan includes another retail tenant, or perhaps office space. But the Department of Transportation won't review the plan with that part open-ended. Subdivision will allow them to proceed with plans for Dollar General while they continue seeking a tenant for the remaining portion. Presumably next month's hearing will include the Environmental Quality Review necessary for them to move forward with plans for Dollar General. Several concerns remain including traffic at the North Street intersection, the general appearance and landscaping of the site, and the Village of Dryden moratorium on sewer construction. This subdivision will not include the wetland portion of the property.

Tracy Kurtz presented the Dryden Youth Commission 2005 Annual Report. She also related efforts the Youth Commission is making with the middle school, the high school, police agencies and the Youth Bureau to identify youth needs in the Town of Dryden. Tracy also said that Jessica Houle will be nominated for a Youth of the Year award for her amazing work with young people from Conger's Trailer Park.

Raul Aguirre, from Finger Lakes Land Trust, presented information regarding a property left to them by Louise Park Dabes. The 50+ acre property, between Route 366 and Mount Pleasant Road does not meet Land Trust criteria for property they want to hold, but does include an important viewshed. As such, the Land Trust recommends that the Town accept the property with a deed restriction guaranteeing that it will remain undeveloped and be used for non-motorized recreation and education. The Board is generally supportive of the idea and will consider what will be needed to accept and administer the property. In exchange, the Land Trust would like help building a small parking lot for access to the Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve.

Duane Testut presented a petition from Baker Hill Road residents requesting a lower speed limit. Attached to the petition is a series of dramatic photos demonstrating limited visibility at the crest of a steep part of Baker Hill. Highway Superintendent, Jack Bush, will work with Duane to put together information necessary to increase the likelihood that a reduced speed limit will be approved by the state DOT.

Mike Lane recommended that the Board form a study commission similar to the one active in the 1980s to explore the feasibility of forming a regional waste water treatment district to include the Village of Dryden and the Village of Freeville both of which are facing huge problems upgrading their waste water treatment facilities. The projected $5 million cost of replacing the Village of Dryden facility would present a huge tax burden if financed by Village residents alone. One town sewer district, which includes the high school and TC3, discharges into the Village plant and development in that area is being stalled by the Village's sewer construction moratorium. Since state and federal funding for sewer construction is virtually non-existent (in contract to 87% funding that was available in the 1980s) a regional approach may make the project affordable and may enhance the prospect of getting outside funding. It's also possible that Tompkins County would participate because of the need to dispose of leachate from the Caswell Road landfill.

Highway Superintendent, Jack Bush, shared photos of the spillway at Virgil Dam following recent rain. The spillway is doing a good job accommodating flood waters and no doubt relieving problems downstream properties have had in the past. Jack also talked about construction and landscaping plans for the existing Town Hall site in conjunction with construction of the new Town Hall. Jack is eager to proceed with construction of the sewer extension across the existing parking lot east of the Town Hall so that will be complete and employees will have access to that parking lot while landscaping plans south and west of the town hall are put in place. Two possible designs for the sewer extension have been included in bid drawings for the new town hall, but the final design has not been determined. Jack anticipates that Highway Department and Recreation Department offices will move to the existing building when other town departments move to the new site next year.

Recreation Coordinator, Jennifer Dube, presented the recently issued Newsletter, which announced summer recreation programs, Concert in the Park artists and the newly revised recreation department website. Jennifer requested approval for a third part-time temporary assistant position, within the existing budget, to help cover afternoon hours when the two current assistants are not available.

Town Attorney, Mahlon Perkins, asked for approval of resolutions approving the Code Enforcement agreement with the Village of Dryden and the purchase of the Tuttle property adjacent to the new town hall site.

Environmental Planner, Dan Kwasnowski, asked the Board to approve a contract with Barton and Loguidice to proceed with engineering plans for rehabilitation of the railroad bridge near Springhouse Road. If you haven't seen the Barton and Loguidice Trail Study Report, you should ask Dan to lend you a copy. Over the years that the Town has been considering the project, the cost has risen to more than $700,000 (not including town overhead and the purchase of property). But the B&L report shows what an attractive asset the trail will be.

Sadly absent from Dan's report is the Renewable Energy Ordinance. Work on the grant proposal for the trail and other projects prevented Dan from drafting the ordinance. He assures us this will mean only a one month delay. The draft will be finished this month in time for the town attorney and the appropriate Board committee (me and Steve T) to review prior to the August Board meeting.

Town Clerk, Bambi Hollenbeck, asked for approval of the appointment of Patricia Millard as Deputy Town Clerk, filling the vacancy soon to exist due to the retirement of Nita Baldwin.

So, it was after 10:00 when we got to the "Goals and objectives that the Board wants the Fire Departments to accomplish." The discussion was lengthy and covered tiered response, Town planning for emergency coverage, plans for a new County dispatch system, and more. But I didn't actually hear any "goals and objectives" except that the fire chiefs should meet and work something out. Hasn't that already been tried?

I'm out of time here, and I want to write more about Fire Departments later. Also to consider Steve T's request that the Board consider changing the length of the term of supervisor. While this is an important question, in order to put it on the ballot this year, a decision would have to be made in August. Marty's impulsiveness aside, I don't think we've ever decided anything that fast except permission for Cayuga Press to move out of Dryden.



Anonymous Dave said...

Cayuga Press zinger...nice way to end. It's not funny because it's mean, it's funny because it's true.

8:01 AM, July 16, 2006  
Anonymous Mary Ann said...

Who me? I don't have a mean bone in my body. Also, not that much of a sense of humor.

8:44 AM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Anonymous said...

What is he proposing to change the length of the Supervisor's term to? 4-years? Lifetime appointment?

Speaking of Cayuga Press, are they going to have to repay any tax abatements or loans they may have received?

10:28 AM, July 18, 2006  
Blogger Mary Ann said...

Fair question, Jason. We teased Steve about wanting to change the term to six months. But, in fact, New York State municipal law only allows the Town Board to extend the term of the supervisor to four years. Trumbull's point is that a new supervisor may be learning so much in the first year, that a two year term is barely adequate to begin doing an effective job.

On the other hand, if he/she has at least begun to do that effective job in the first year and a half, chances are he or she will be re-elected.

I'm a little interested in the possible impact of the fact that a four year term for supervisor means that in the off years, board members will be running without a candidate for supervisor and conversely, the board members whose terms expire the same year as the supervisor will always be running on a ticket with a supervisor candidate.

11:00 AM, July 18, 2006  
Anonymous Mary Ann said...

And speaking of Cayuga Press... I've heard some chatter about considering a generous repayment schedule for the Community Development Block Grant loan Cayuga Press received from the Town of Dryden. I believe the logic is that Cayuga Press employees who are Dryden residents will be able to keep their jobs when the press relocates to Cortland County. And that Cayuga Press intends to maintain a modest mailing business at their current Dryden location.

On the other hand, the $200,000 balance of that loan might go a long way toward helping other businesses trying to locate in the Town of Dryden.

I expect this to be on the agenda for the August Town Board meeting.

11:08 AM, July 18, 2006  
Blogger Anonymous said...

I'll be sure to make the August meeting. Unfortunately a schedule conflict prevented me from making this month's meeting.

One thing I am curious about re: Cayuga is how many Dryden employees there are and what they earn before letting that balance go. Sometimes the tax benefits given to businesses are far more generous than the jobs they are supposed to create. Also, unless Cayuga guarantees, in writing, a certain number of jobs to Dryden residents then I can't see any reason for not recapturing that $200,000.

Re: Supervisor term -- Has the Supervisor position been so volatile that turnover occurs once every two years?

I'm a newbie to the area so I don't know the history that may be prompting Trumbull's position. That said, the current Supervisor should not be able to benefit from the proposal, if it were passed by the board & the voters, unless they are re-elected and the election is for a 4-year term.

4:19 PM, July 19, 2006  
Anonymous Mary Ann said...

I should check the minutes to be sure, but I think there are about twenty Dryden employees at Cayuga Press. The company does not intend to fire anyone, so current employees have the option of keeping their jobs and commuting to Cortland. Hmm...$3/gallon. I think I'd be updating my resume. Possibly the mailing service that will remain in the Hanshaw Road facility will involve a couple of new positions.

I'm not aware of any unsusual turnover rate in the supervisor's position. Steve took office in 2004. He's now in his second term which expires at the end of 2007. If a change were proposed and approved by voters this year, it would not affect this term.

8:42 PM, July 19, 2006  

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