On December 16 the Lloyd Town Board held their last regular meeting for 2020, touching upon a number of year end topics.
Councilman Joe Mazzetti, who is the liaison to the Highland Central School District, informed the board that the district is currently in a hybrid mode of instruction.
“Next week is the last of the hybrid classes and they’re going to full remote till mid January and then they’re planning on going back to hybrid again,” he said. “They had a couple of students and workers with covid, but remote for the most part is operating pretty well and pretty safely. Hopefully they will be able to reopen in January.”
Councilman Lenny Auchmoody said he has reported to Central Hudson that 85 street lights were out. He noted that 34 have already been replaced with new LED lights and the others will soon follow. He now has the correct contact number with the company when he sees any others that are out.
Boring Under The Tracks
Auchmoody said he participated in a pre-construction meeting with the contractor who will be boring under the CSX railroad tracks in the 2nd week of January 2021 in order to bring water and sewer lines down to the riverfront park area. He said CSX, “has been as accommodating as they could be” concerning this project. “My fingers are crossed and I hope it happens.”
Securing Sidewalk Money
Mazzetti pressed town attorney Sean Murphy on securing funding from developer Keith Libolt that he promised to pay for a sidewalk along the Commercial Avenue Extension from the rail trail down to Commercial Avenue. The distance is 260 feet and the cost has been estimated by Barton & Loguidice at approximately $26,000, not the $5,000 figure that Building Department Director Dave Barton stated publicly at a previous board meeting.
Mazzetti reminded the board that when it was discussed, “there was never any mention that he [Libolt] would only contribute $5,000, it was always that he would pay for the sidewalk. That’s the way I recall it.”
The board voted to extend their contract with Mobile Life Services for the same amount of money and services until January 31, 2021 to allow more time for negotiations. The annual contract has been approximately $230,000 but the company is seeking to raise that to $330,000.
Mazzetti said the town does not have funds for the increase.
“We talked to them about some ways they could save money on rent and they didn’t want to hear it. We asked them to come back and sharpen their pencil and see what we could do, but we don’t have $100,000 to give them,” he said. “It’s a valuable service and we want it.
Mazzetti also touched upon the widespread dissatisfaction in town about the rising cost of services provided by Optimum. He said the board has reviewed the contract with them and asked attorney Murphy to push for a response from the company on concerns from the public.
“People have got to understand that we [town board] cannot just hire another cable company. They actually own the lines and they pay us a fee, so in order to get another company to come in they would have to purchase the lines. It’s really the federal government that would have to break them up as a monopoly like they did with Ma Bell in the day and let them subcontract the lines.”
As Councilwoman Claire Winslow tried to move the conversation to discussing a particular individual who has spoken out about this issue, Mazzetti steered it in a more general manner, pointing out that many town residents have registered their ire on Facebook about this company. He pointed out that the company has serviced Lloyd before any of them were Town Board members and has owned the lines “forever.” He said companies like Optimum, “have us over a barrel. People should be writing the federal government to break up the monopoly and that’s the only way you’re going to get these rates changed because competition makes for better business.”
Zoning Board Requirements
Supervisor Fred Pizzuto said he will look into a provision in the code [100-56 H (2)] that states the Zoning Board of Appeals, “shall report to the Town Board periodically, at intervals of not greater than three months, summarizing all applications and appeals made to it since its last previous report and summarizing its decisions on such applications and appeals. A copy of such report shall be filed with the Planning Board and the Code Enforcement Officer at the same time that it is filed with the Town Board.” Pizzuto believes this has never happened in Lloyd.
Pizzuto said he did not know if an Affordable Housing Committee was ever established. A number of years ago, under the previous Supervisor, the Town Board approved this committee as a way to ensure that developers and the town set aside 10% of their units in their project as affordable. Building Director Dave Barton was named to head up the committee. At that time there were no affordable units in the Town of Lloyd.
About a year ago the town’s land use firm advised the Town Board that they have the authority to retroactively enforce this provision of the code. To date, however, the committee has not been set up nor has the board gone back to developers to impose this clause in the town code.
Mazzetti explained that affordable housing is granted to people in a certain salary range so that the apartment or home is actually affordable and that the units must be sold or rented at a rate that has been calculated by Ulster County.
“The whole premise is that people that work in our community can live in our community, such as our employees, our policemen and women. Houses are now selling for $350,000 and up and a couple making $100,000 just can’t afford it. To be affordable means for those making $50,000 to $60,000.”
He even floated the idea of the Town Board adopting a rent control ordinance for their consideration.
Pizzuto said the town will address zoning and affordable housing issues in the new year.