The Ulster Avenue sidewalk project that was scheduled to begin this spring in the Village of Walden has temporarily been postponed due to a mundane bureaucratic slip-up, as the state lost the paperwork for the project’s permit application. Village Manager John Revella reported the news at the Village Board meeting on May 21.
Revella noted that the contractor hired to complete the project wanted to begin the labor on May 20, but the lack of state approval has held up the road work after the Newburgh office of the New York State Department of Transportation misplaced the application.
“It would have happened if the DOT would have approved our permits, which they were supposed to two months ago,” Revella told the board.
As part of the upcoming construction, sidewalks in the village from Main Street to the Most Precious Blood School will be refurbished, but the work will now be delayed while the state approval process plays out. “We just have to wait for them to review the documents that we re-sent,” Revella said.
During last Tuesday’s meeting, the board discussed possible legislation to address residents’ recent complaints about homeowners with copious amounts of animal waste festering on their properties. The municipality currently has a pooper scooper law on the books, and Village Attorney Dave Donovan informed the board they could craft new legislation to address the recent problem ,or could choose to modify the existing property management code, “That has to do with neighboring yards and the areas that are covered, but this would cover more areas,” Revella explained of the current law.
Walden Mayor Susan Rumbold said she didn’t think that the code enforcement officer has time to go around and look for animal feces on local lawns, but the possible changes could help fix a common-sense issue. “It’s about people maintaining their property,” she said. “There’s people in the village who have multiple dogs and they keep them in their yards, and obviously if the animal is on a chain in the yard it can’t get anywhere else to do what it needs to do. We’re just asking people to clean up the mess so there’s no odor in the summertime or it’s not dangerous for kids to run through the yard or it doesn’t attract other animals. It’s just basic housekeeping for your yard.” Trustee John Ramos will work with Donovan on alternative language for the proposed local law.
Walden is considering the first revisions to its comprehensive plan since 2012, as the village is working with the Lanc & Tully Engineering firm to update the document. The plan is revised every five to 10 years when new census data becomes available. According to a representative from the firm, the proposed changes are minor, with no amendments to residential density. Rumbold said it’s essential for the village to keep updating its comprehensive plan. “It’s very important,” she noted. “It’s critical to bringing in and attracting businesses and residents. It allows you to know the dynamics of your community so you can plan how the community will develop over time. So it’s very important to keep it updated and current.”
During last week’s meeting, the council continued its ongoing discussions about potential changes to the board’s liaisonship system. Under the current arrangement, each board member is assigned one or more village departments or outside organizations to consult with and then report on at the regular board sessions.
Deputy Mayor Faith Moore is proposing a new system where Revella would incorporate the agency updates into his village manager’s report at the top of each meeting, while the trustees would receive broader assignments. “It would move the liaisonships away from direct contact with the department heads and having them continue to report to the village manager and have their reports become part of the village manager’s report, which would grow substantially,” Moore said during the meeting.
Revella met with Moore and Trustee Lynn Thompson prior to the board meeting to go over new potential liaison categories. Moore explained that the group had come up with seven possible categories that could be introduced if the board were to adopt the plan. The new potential categories include economic growth and development, community relations, financial oversight, emergency services relations, board relations, environmental relations, and a housing task force.
Trustees Dan Svarczkopf, Larry Kraus and Thompson all expressed a desire to retain the liaisonships but to tweak them going forward, with Svarczkopf adding that under the current structure, he sometimes feels like the board is going through the motions in regards to the liaisonships. “I think it’s an opportunity, if we rethink it like we’re talking about, to be more connected to what’s going on in our community and actually hear what the people in the community would like to see happening in the village,” Thompson said during the meeting.
Rumbold said that the current system has its pluses and minuses. “It’s kind of a mixed bag,” Rumbold told the board. “What you’re talking about is people attending meetings, events. It’s sad to say, but I think everybody knows exactly how many people attend things now in the village. I don’t know if it’s going to make a difference by assigning someone to go to these things.”
Ramos, who is not in favor of the potential changes, noted that he was first attracted to the idea of joining the board in part because of the liaisonship set-up. “I’ve been pretty vocal about the liaisonships when we started discussing this, and I’m going to stay steadfast that they provide an intricate portion of communication to various departments,” Ramos told the board. “I enjoy my support that I give to the Parks and Recreation and I also enjoy my support to the school district. I’ve built five years of communication flow between those two areas, and I firmly believe that they trust the person that sits across from them every time we talk. Without that trust, obviously information flow is not going to get to the pertinent people.”