Walden board discusses village hall disturbances and East Avenue Parking

By Jared Castañeda
Posted 6/12/24

The Walden village board, among several updates, addressed two major issues during its June 4 meeting: the disruptions at the village hall caused by rowdy children and traffic safety concerns on East …

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Walden board discusses village hall disturbances and East Avenue Parking


The Walden village board, among several updates, addressed two major issues during its June 4 meeting: the disruptions at the village hall caused by rowdy children and traffic safety concerns on East Avenue.

The board opened the meeting with introducing two new employees: the first was Michelle Butcher, the village’s new deputy clerk-treasurer, who brings a wealth of financing experience as Orange County’s present recording and indexing clerk. Chief William Herlihy then introduced Joshua Louks, the Walden Police Department’s newest full-time officer, who previously served in the Marine Corps Reserves for six years.

Village Hall Building Safety
Ginny Neidermier, librarian of the Josephine-Louise Public Library, and Chief Herlihy updated the board on their current investigation addressing disruptive behavior at the library and village hall. Recently, several adolescents have caused disturbances at the municipal building in the form of running around, loitering, and creating lots of noise. The library staff and police department are currently devising a plan to minimize these disturbances.

“It hasn’t increased but from what I find with the kids hanging around is usually the end and beginning of the school year. That seems to be the peak for a lot of these kids,” Neidermier said. “If they’re running around, we have to go out and babysit, tell them to stop or move away or move along. We have a lot of staff coming on now for the summer, so they have to get comfortable with calling the police.”

“I don’t mind it, but I have young staff, teens, and volunteers, and some of them are uncomfortable. So that would be my priority,” she continued.

Trustee Becky Pearson recounted her experiences dealing with these children when she visited the village hall on a Sunday, a time when the building should be mostly inactive.

“I was a witness to some things and it was kind of scary. On a Sunday, I came in to pay bills and said, ‘Why are they here on a Sunday and why isn’t the building locked down?’”

The board and police department speculated that they could shut down the village hall at the same time as the library, preventing anyone from hanging out at the building after hours. Trustee Bill Taylor supported the idea and stressed they need to act quickly before an incident occurs.

“I’m in total agreement; with what Trustee Pearson was susceptible to when she came in here to sign bills, that’s just unacceptable,” he said. “And chief, you know as well as I do that something like this could escalate in a moment’s notice.”

Trustee Chris Batson questioned the children’s motivation for loitering at the municipal building and whether or not changing the building’s hours would shift the disruption somewhere else.

“Have we diagnosed why the building is these kids’ preferred place? Is there some world where this is the only safe place for these kids?” Batson asked. “Do you think that’s going to solve the problem or divert the problem somewhere else? The problem is we have unruly people causing a disruption. I’m fine with simply changing the building hours, but at some point, we need to address the problem.”

Village Manager John Revella suggested that the board direct these children to Wooster Grove’s teen center, a building better equipped to deal with rambunctious activity.

“During the summer, the teen center is open every day except for Sunday, so they have an option. The library isn’t open after 8 p.m. any day, so it’s there, there’s no overlap and I think it’s covered,” Revella said.

The board decided to table the resolution for a shutdown until Revella conducted more research on the village hall’s hours and how to enforce the closure.

Residency Requirements
The board then briefly discussed a local law expanding the residency requirements for the village clerk and treasurer to Orange County and the police chief to the Town of Montgomery. The mayor and trustees decided to table the law for the time being until they found out if the police chief’s residency could be expanded beyond the Town of Montgomery but not as far as Orange County.

Susan Taylor agreed with the local law and speculated that the residency expansion could attract much-needed applicants to the village.

“I think we’re handcuffing ourselves if we just limit it to the town; we have an opportunity to attract a more diverse range of candidates who possibly have new perspectives on policing, new eyes seeing our community, and formulating our department that could be unique to our needs,” she said. “To leave it just for the Town of Montgomery is short-sighted and not in the best interest of our village.”

OCT Update

Later on, representatives from Orange County Transit provided a small update on the facility’s hookup to the village’s sewer system. Anthony Miranda, the company’s attorney, reiterated that OCT is still waiting for a highway work permit from the state DOT but did receive a response from the department a few weeks ago.

“The DOT responded on May 24, apologized for the delay, and asked for two other supplemental forms. One of those Orange County Transit submitted immediately, within a few days, and the other form involves the inspections of the DOT work which has to be done,” Miranda said. “Orange County Transit reached out to a consultant to get them on board to fill out and submit it. As of today, it wasn’t filed yet and we don’t have somebody who has signed an agreement, but we hope that will be done in the next couple of days.”

East Avenue Discussion
Lastly, Revella announced that the board will hold a special meeting on Monday, June 17 at 5:30 p.m. at the corner of Hill Street and East Avenue. The session will address parking on East Avenue, as several residents have previously raised traffic and safety concerns caused by cars parked on both sides of the street. All residents are welcome to attend and provide feedback; for more information, email Revella at manager@villageofwalden.org.