2018-11-07 / News

Colchester Faces Road Erosion Issues; Public Budget Hearing Tonight

The Oct. 17 town of Colchester meeting started with residents Ruth and Gene Wilhowsky speaking about the condition of Money Point Road. Reading from a prepared statement, Ruth Wilhowsky noted that she has called the highway department multiple times. The Wilhowsky’s are alleging lack of maintenance including clogged culverts, potholes, rocks in road and shoulders washed away or soft mud. Gene Wilhowsky also stated that the road was too narrow and he thought it needed guardrails. Ruth Wilhowsky asked about tar and chipping the road. She was under the impression it was to be done this year. Superintendent Merrill stated that all town roads are tarred and chipped on a five-year rotation schedule. He said Money Point Road was to be tarred and chipped but with the unusual frequency of the rains this year, all work of that type ran later than originally scheduled. Highway Supervisor Eck reported that the road is maintained regularly and is plowed as priority dictates. Eck relayed that Money Point Road is scheduled to be worked on as soon as conditions allow.

In a related subject, Highway Supervisor Eck told the board that due to the frequent and continuing rains, the terrain and existing soil types, there are and have been multiple road failures and severe erosion events. Sinkholes have developed, shoulders are washing out, and roads and culverts are being undermined. These repairs are occupying a large amount of time, equipment and manpower.

Merrill asked if this would be reimbursable through FEMA. Eck indicated that he thought a large share of it would be. Eck mentioned he will be attending a FEMA meeting on Nov. 25 in Delhi, at which he hopes to discuss these issues.

During a budget workshop meeting on Oct. 9, the board reviewed the tentative budget. Merrill made some updates based on board recommendations and presented them. Councilwoman Julie Markert had some concerns over the percent of increase on the police budget. Merrill explained the increase was due to salary increases but other items in the budget will decrease making the actual increase only around $2,000. The total budget will see a 1.8944% increase over last year, keeping it below the cap. The public preliminary budget hearing is scheduled for tonight, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.

Several resolutions were made and approved.

Superintendent Merrill received authorization from the board to file an application for a Small Cities Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for the amount of $500,000. The CDBG funds are designed to benefit low and moderate income families by eliminating blight and bringing housing up to code.

A resolution adopting a winter road and sidewalk maintenance notice was made. This notice deals with property owners’ responsibilities related to sidewalks and town roads that may hinder the town crews’ work and the snow removal and safety. Property owners are required to clear sidewalks in front of their property within 12 hours of the end of a snow event. The town plans to advertise a part-time position for a perdson to shovel sidewalks and walkways at town buildings and properties.

A resolution allowing the highway supervisor to designate any occupied residences or commercial buildings dependent upon road access as “Seasonal Limited Use Highway” was made and approved.

A resolution authorizing Merrill to renew the contract with Excellus Blue Cross / Blue Shield Simply Blue Plus Platinum 2 Health Care Plan for 2019 was made. The resolution further authorizes Merrill to setup a new special HRA Health Spending Debit Card Account.

In other news, Highway Supervisor Eck reported that concrete was scheduled to be placed Monday, Oct. 22, on the Cooks Falls garage project. The drawings for the walking bridge over Downs Brook are complete. Portions of the work are planned to be done in-house with the remainder being bid out. Drawings are now being submitted to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Bonnie Seegmiller gave an update on the Clean Energy Communities Program. The project is scheduled to start in the next couple weeks. Seegmiller also reported that she will create a Facebook page to keep residents updated.

A Stream Corridor Management Phase II meeting is scheduled for Nov. 24 at the American Legion building.

It was noted by Superintendent Merrill that the crews installing poles for the MTC Cable Broadband project were temporarily in North Carolina to help with Hurricane Michael recovery efforts.

At the last meeting, Steve Navratil, Downsville Fire Department, presented a new type of quick-connect caps for hydrants. The question arose of who would pay the $143 per cap for 38 caps. Town attorney Mike DeGroat stated that the cost would fall on the water district. Merrill responded that the water district did not have the funds without an increase in rates. Councilwoman Julie Markert asked if the caps could be paid for by businesses and private citizens. De- Groat saw no problem with that. Resident Joan Homovich suggested that maybe a fundraiser could be considered. The board agreed this was a good idea and will explore the idea.

The board agreed to cancel the Nov. 21 town meeting due to its proximity to Thanksgiving.

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