The Village of Walden is playing the waiting game with the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) as the municipality is standing by for the agency to give the go-ahead for the village’s upcoming Ulster Avenue sidewalk project. The construction work that will span sidewalks from Main Street to the Most Precious Blood school was delayed in May after the Newburgh office of the DOT misplaced Walden’s application, and the project is still on hold for the time being.
During the Walden Village Board meeting on June 4, Village Manager John Revella told the council that the state is working through the application process. “I’ve had a few conferences with New York State DOT since they botched our application,” Revella told the board. “Now we’re being delayed because of them again. I did have a couple of phones calls with the local rep, trying to get things worked out.”
The contractors hired to complete the road work are holding off on other projects while waiting for the green light to commence the Ulster Avenue work. “It’s going to cause a financial burden to them soon if they don’t get started soon,” Revella said.
Once the state approval process is completed, the work could begin quickly, and is projected to last approximately four months. “We’re still waiting for the state DOT to approve our permits,” Revella said. “It could be any day. We have no idea. We have no control over it. We’ve been asking the local rep in the Newburgh office and the regional rep in the Poughkeepsie office to try and help expedite. We’re paying rent now for a facility for our engineers and contractors to use, because we’re required to by the state. But they can’t even use it because there’s nothing going on yet.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, the board voted to schedule a joint meeting with the Montgomery Town Board on July 16 to discuss the potential annexation of the Amthor property into the village. The site is on the outskirts of the village, and with the East End Bus Lines company exploring the possibility of moving into the property, the company wants to hook up to village sewer and water.
The annexation would get the Amthor property on the village tax, water and sewer rolls. “It’s more control over property that abuts our village,” Revella said. “You have control over what uses are there as well.” The Route 52 historic site housed a welding operation, and the village could annex 9.4 acres of land under the potential agreement with Montgomery. When the deal was discussed at a board meeting last fall, indications were that East End would pay double the standard water and sewer rate to use the public lines. Walden Mayor Susan Rumbold voted against holding the joint meeting.
The Walden board is weighing whether or not to join the state’s Climate Smart Community program, and Patricia Hennigan of the Town of Montgomery Conservation Advisory Council appeared at Tuesday’s meeting to declare her support for the Department of Environmental initiative. Orange County, Gardiner, the City of Newburgh, the Town of Woodbury, the Village of Highland Falls and the Village of Maybrook have all signed up for the program. The Climate Smart program, which is overseen by six state agencies, stipulates that their resolution must be adopted verbatim by the highest body of officials in a given municipality.
The 10 climate goals in the resolution include building a climate-smart community, shifting to clean, renewable energy, using climate-smart materials management and supporting a green innovation economy, among others. “The main goal is really to reduce greenhouse gases in the community as a way to deal with climate change,” Hennigan told the board. She added that there’s no financial commitment of any kind to participate in the program, but municipalities who are certified Climate Smart Communities can apply for additional state grants tied to climate initiatives.
There’s no strict timeline tied to the climate goals after a community adopts the resolution. “It looks at things like how much energy is being used in the village and probably the first six months or so is really looking at the energy budget and saying ‘How can this be modified, how can this be reduced in some way?’” Hennigan told the board. “So it’s looking at green technology and other ways that can help.”
Rumbold expressed her skepticism about joining a program where the village would be tied to additional state regulations. “Dealing with the State of New York for many, many years now, I would not count on anything,” Rumbold said during the meeting.
Trustee Lynn Thompson noted that while the language on the state resolution seems rigid, she’s not convinced that it’s meant to be taken that way. “I’m under the understanding that you don’t have to complete those steps in a given period of time,” she said. Thompson said she hoped to schedule a meeting with Maybrook Mayor Dennis Leahy on the issue to find out what that village has learned from being a part of the program.
Trustee Dan Svarczkopf expressed a desire to move forward with studying climate initiatives for the village that wouldn’t be tied to the state program. “Once you adopt this resolution, you are bound by it, and as long as New York State is the one that’s going to be able to look at these 10 things and unless there’s a chart, what does that mean?”
Rumbold asked the board. “Give me detailed information about what this is. So these communities may be adopting this thinking ‘Oh yes, let’s get on this bandwagon.’” Thompson said she will continue to study the issue and will report back to the board at a future meeting.