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Village sets gaze on beautification

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CHATHAM – Several village residents met with the Village Board Thursday May 26 to discuss plans for a beautification committee. Mayor Tom Curran started the meeting by thanking all the people who helped get the fountain back in the traffic circle. The Beautification Committee’s first job was adding flowers in and around the fountain for Memorial Day, a task that the group accomplished with help from the mayor.

When Mayor Curran and Trustee Joanne DelRossi were elected in March on the Chatham United Party line, one of their mandates was to start three committees: beautification, audit and safety. Traditionally the board has met twice a month, with the second Thursday of the month designated for regular business. The new administration plans to hold workshops to address the committees’ concerns on the fourth Thursday of the month.

Mayor Curran noted those who volunteered their time and equipment to restore the fountain, including Chatham Auto Body, which scrubbed and painted the fountain, Chatham Auto Parts, which donated the sandblaster, and the village Department of Public Works, which transported the fountain from the circle to the Chatham Auto Body in May. Wendy Carroll, Linda Gibson and her daughter helped with the weeding around the circle. Though he said more restoration is needed to make the fountain work, the board decided to put it back in the circle as is and raise funds in the future to restore the plumbing.

At the workshop meeting Francis Iaconetti, the chairman of the beautification committee, asked the 15 village residents at the meeting to indicate their interests in being on the committee. There is no limit to how many people may join.

He also asked them to name issues they believe affect the beautification of the village. The issues included better signage, weeding the grass growing in the sidewalks, identification of park space in the village and tree care on Main Street and Hudson Avenue. Others talked about allowing store signs on Main Street to hang perpendicular to storefronts rather than flat against the face of the buildings, a dock on the pond in the village and having a village clean-up day.

The board also discussed the state Department of Transportation rights-of-way in the village. Since Route 66 is a state route, the DOT controls most of the adjacent sidewalks on the east side of the street. Hanging new signs has been an issue in the village zoning laws in the past, and Mr. Iaconetti stressed that store owners may not hang signs that protrude onto someone else’s property, including the state’s. “A DOT right-of-way is a DOT right-of-way,” he said.

The trees have also been an issue since they were planted by the state after a major road upgrade project two years ago. Some trees have died or are failing. Mr. Iaconetti said they would need to check with the state before any are replaced.

Tom Hope, owner of the Peint-O-Gwrw Pub on Main Street, has used village materials to install a short fence around the tree in front of his business. Mayor Curran said that that can be done with other trees on the street.

The board also talked about funding for the Beautification Committee. The village budget allocates $500 for the committee and there was some discussion about donations. Kathy Stumph, president of the Chatham Area Business Alliance, said that she would talk to the group’s treasurer to see whether the alliance could accept donations for the committee.

“If we are going to do something, we have to maintain it,” Mr. Iaconetti said of the committee’s future projects. He also stressed that forming this committee was intended as a way to co-ordinate the different projects already happening in the village. “I think co-ordination is something as a committee we need to do a lot on,” he said.

The next meeting will be Thursday June 23 at the Tracy Memorial at 7:30 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email eteasdale@columbiapaper.com.

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