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Old issues get new airing in Ancram


ANCRAM–What does the New Year have in store for the Town of Ancram?

A new highway garage? A new road salt shed? An explanation about the 2007 revaluation?

During the second of three transition planning meetings that took place at the Town Hall December 21, light was shone on all these matters.

About 50 town residents along with new and old Town Board members assembled to give and get input from town department heads and town residents about how the town conducts business and issues important to the town’s future.

Town Highway Superintendent James MacArthur summarized the issues connected to his department. He gave an inventory of the equipment the department has and noted the need to build a new garage to house that equipment along with a salt shed mandated by the state, Supervisor Art Bassin told The Columbia Paper following the meeting.

Mr. MacArthur believes that both a new garage that would meet department needs along with a salt shed can be situated on the current highway garage site on Maple Lane in Ancramdale, said Mr. Bassin.

Before anything is proposed for the existing site, a study and testing for the existence of petroleum contamination will be conducted. But Mr. Bassin said he and Mr. MacArthur think that any substantial contamination is unlikely, otherwise evidence of it would have shown up before now.

Town Clerk/Tax Collector Monica Cleveland discussed her duties and answered questions from the audience.

Town Assessor Ken Leggett spoke about his job and the controversial two-year-old property revaluation. In contrast to assertions made by residents at the December 14 transition meeting that there is no formula for assessments, Mr. Leggett said that there is a methodology and a land values table computer program on which assessments are based, said Mr. Bassin.

Town Justice and Youth Commission member Bob Wilcox spoke about Youth Commission activities, how much longer the Ancram Pool will last and where the new playground equipment that the commission hopes to raise funds to buy should be located. The commission would prefer to see the equipment set up on the Town Hall grounds, Mr. Bassin said.

Building and Zoning Code Enforcement Officer Ed Ferratto and his deputy Bill Hunt discussed the processes and functions of their office. Of particular interest was Town Local Law #1 of 2007, which requires that town officials enforce state building codes, said Mr. Bassin. He believes that the town has not been rigorously enforcing the state building code when enforcement might impose legal expenses on residents.

Town Animal Control Officer Gary Deitch spoke about his duties answering calls about stray or uncontrolled animals.

On the agenda for the third and final meeting in the series, scheduled for Monday, December 28, were discussion of the Town Court, Town Hall building management, the Community Rescue Squad, the town historian and proposed resolutions and appointments planned for the January 4 town organization meeting.

Resolutions and appointments include: accepting a proposal for town insurance; beginning the Comprehensive Plan approval process; adopting a policy to recruit, interview and select committee and board members; authorizing an assessment of possible contamination at the town garage site; authorizing engineering work to secure bids for a new town garage and salt shed; revising the retainer agreement with the town attorney; reviewing and adjusting the 2010 budget; appointing new committees; appointing or reappointing town officials, clerks and service providers; and appointing or reappointing board, commission and committee chairs and members.

Newly-elected town officials were sworn in January 1 at noon at the Town Hall, a potluck followed. The Town Board will conduct its annual organization meeting at the Town Hall, January 4 at 7 p.m.

To contact Diane Valden email dvalden@columbiapaper.com.

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