By Nadine Cafaro
The Town of Montgomery doesn’t want to pay for Hill Street Bridge, and Village of Walden Board Trustees aren’t happy about it.
On November 3, Town of Montgomery board members discussed the long awaited repair of the Hill Street Bridge in Walden based on guidance from Montgomery Town Attorney William Frank. Multiple members spoke out about being against paying for it due to the fact it would be taken out of the town’s General (A) Fund, which assesses all town taxpayers, including those living in the three villages.
“Just so we can quantify the cost, if this is taken out of the A fund, the bond would probably be after interest, close to $45,000 a year which wouldn’t hit until the 2024 budget. That number is equal to about a little over 2% increase in taxes to the A fund,” said Supervisor Brian Maher at that meeting.
Other town board members pointed out solutions to previously stated fire safety issues and questioned making it into a bicycling path despite Frank’s suggestions. Overall, the majority of the board was not interested in constructing a new bridge.
Walden Trustee John Elliott voiced his dismay with the town board’s comments at the Village of Walden Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, November 15.
“It was a little disappointing,” said Elliott.
Elliott responded to Councilwoman Kristen Brown’s comment about a fire hydrant being in the area, stating that even if it is there, they can’t take a truck to it “unless they want to carry buckets of water back.”
He also questioned his own tax paying dollars. “Why do we pay the town taxes if we get no services from them?”
Brian Sebring, fellow Walden trustee, also made some remarks. He stated that the comments from Montgomery’s town board about the lack of plowing done on Hill Street were incorrect. “That road was always plowed and I lived on East Avenue for fifty years,” said Sebring.
He also mentioned that the work could’ve been done years ago, and because the price is high now, the board doesn’t want to pay for it. Sebring further responded to some town ideas to turn it into a walking bridge.
“To be a pathway or walkway, as far as I’m concerned [means] that they didn’t do their due diligence and don’t want to do their due diligence,” said Sebring.
Walden Village Manager John Revella had stated the village’s need for the bridge’s rehabilitation at the Nov. 3 Town of Montgomery board meeting during public comment. He also added to Elliott and Sebring’s remarks.
“ I don’t know how they can’t afford that but can afford a $30 million bond for the Village of Montgomery,” said Revella.
Town of Montgomery Supervisor Brian Maher said that he is willing to fix the bridge, but ultimately got hesitancy from the board. “I was in favor of fixing the bridge and prepared all appropriate paperwork and resolutions to bond more than $800,000 to have the bridge fixed and reopened. However, I did not have anyone else on my board make a motion,” said Maher.
When considering why there wasn’t a motion made to fix Hill Street Bridge, Maher stated, “I believe a majority of the town board is not interested in spending that amount of money to fix a bridge that they feel is not necessary to be opened. I believe some of them believe a walking bridge would make more sense.”
He mentioned that a meeting between Deputy Supervisor Ron Feller, Revella, and Village of Walden Mayor John Ramos is being scheduled to discuss the bridge issue in the near future.