GERMANTOWN–The Town Board did a sort of re-start Monday, clarifying its January 4 organization meeting and setting goals for 2012.
After a Public Hearing without public comment, the board passed its first local law of 2012, authorizing the designation of No Parking areas. “No Parking” signs already posted in town had no law behind them, forcing the town justices to throw out cases, Supervisor Roy Brown said.
Now drivers face fines for parking illegally in designated handicapped parking ($100), parking near fire hydrants or in Fire Zones ($75), double-parking ($50) and parking so that a vehicle obstructs traffic flow or a sidewalk ($25).
In his Supervisor’s Report, Mr. Brown said that the January reorganization meeting “had a couple of missteps.” As a result, he said, he heard from residents, by phone, email and in person, that they were displeased that a change in town government–specifically, accountant/bookkeeper and attorney–was made during closed-door meetings.
Mr. Brown called Robert J. Freeman of the state Committee on Open Government and learned that because those meetings had involved private citizens not yet sworn in as councilmen, the state Open Meetings Law had not been broken.
Mr. Brown resolved then to try to change state law, so that the public’s business would always be done in public. In the meantime, he said, “Joel [Craig] and Don [Westmore] and I agreed last week that all town business will be discussed in open forum.”
Mr. Brown then stated his three goals for 2012 to the audience of some 30 adults and a dozen high school students, beginning with new sidewalks. Repairing and installing sidewalks throughout the hamlet has been in town plans for about eight years. Five years ago, realizing that $450,000 awarded for the project would not be enough, the Town Board rewrote a grant and was awarded $1.2 million in federal funds.
Monday the board approved hiring of Greenman-Pedersen, Inc., of Albany as the new engineering consultant for the Town Sidewalk Federal Aid Project. One of GPI’s first assignments is to hold public meetings to explain the project, as easements may be required.
Bruce Bohnsack, chair of the Sidewalk Committee, reported that the state has “signed off” on the design. Modifications should be minor and Mr. Bohnsack did not anticipate having to raise more money.
Mr. Brown’s second goal for 2012 is replacing playground equipment, by raising funds outside of taxes to purchase it.
At the July 11, 2011, town board meeting, the Parks Commission reported having $6,500 earmarked for playground equipment, thanks to the town’s Oktoberfest and a matching grant from Gtel. Asked about that money on Tuesday, Mr. Brown said that as far as he knew, it had not yet been spent.
At Monday’s meeting, Nicolette Sacco-Brown reported that eight years ago she and others had raised about $7,000 toward tennis courts and a skate park. They would like to see this put toward replacing the playground equipment, she said. Ms. Sacco-Brown is married to Supervisor Brown.
These funds are a “great start,” Mr. Brown said Tuesday, on playground equipment replacement that could cost between $30,000 and $100,000.
The supervisor’s third goal for 2012 is to continue with economic development initiatives, attracting new businesses to town.
In other business, the board:
*Went into executive session for 35 minutes to discuss a personnel and contractual issue. Councilwoman Joan Snyder attended the public meeting and the executive session via two Internet video and audio hookups coordinated by Deputy Supervisor Austin Sullivan. As is his practice, Mr. Sullivan videotaped the meeting for the community channel on Gtel cable TV
*Learned that three members of the Zoning Board of Appeals–Chairman William Muirhead and Thomas Bower and Donald Crews–have resigned, leaving only Stephen Savoris on the ZBA; Donald Westmore resigned upon his election to the Town Board. Mr. Brown said Tuesday that he did not know why the three had resigned, but that Mr. Craig and Ms. Snyder were going through applications and he expected the board to make ZBA appointments at the February meeting
*Approved the repair of the Sewer Department back-up generator (damaged by fire) at a cost of no more than $14,500, rather than replacement, for $30,000. The town’s insurance may possibly cover the cost of repair, after a $1,000 deductible
*Heard from Ms. Snyder that she is still seeking donations for the town’s 9/11 Memorial
*Tal Rappleyea, the new town attorney, was introduced to the meeting. Via the Internet connection, which uses software called Skype, Ms. Snyder had expressed misgivings about Mr. Rappleyea’s time commitments and the way he was hired. Mr. Craig said he would respond to Ms. Snyder via email, and Mr. Rappleyea assured the meeting that he had time for Germantown
*Learned from Mr. Craig that the Germantown Central School District will hold a World Café Wednesday, February 1, at 7 p.m., at the school. The goal is to gather input from the public about the future of the school district. “This is designed for your input,” said Mr. Craig. “It’s important to be there”
*Learned from Susan Raab of the town’s History Department that Charles Swain, Greene County minorities historian, will speak on the local Underground Railroad at the Germantown Library Sunday, February 5, at 2 p.m.
The board’s February meeting, adjusted for Presidents Day, takes place Tuesday, February 21, at 7 p.m.