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Board eyes do-over on Town Hall plan

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NEW LEBANON -Town Board members have differing interpretations of the message voters sent in soundly defeating a referendum to spend up to $816,000 to refurbish the Town Hall. But the board agreed this week to accept the Town Hall Building Committee’s recommendation to continue the planning phase of the project.

At the Town Board meeting Monday, July 12, town Supervisor Meg Robertson said she agreed with the committee’s viewpoint that there was “a lack of adequate time to communicate to people to sell the project,” adding, “I support the project, it’s necessary.”

 

But Board member Allen Livermore said the feedback he received indicated voters had sufficient information about the project and did not think that now was the right time to undertake it. “I do not see it as a marketing problem,” he said.

Because so much work has already been completed on the building design, the Building Committee unanimously recommended completing those plans and soliciting bids in order to provide voters with a more accurate estimate of project costs and need for borrowing, if any, according to Douglas Banker who presented the committee’s recommendations to the board.

The committee also urged holding informational workshops, expanding the committee to include persons with marketing experience, mailing a fact sheet to voters and conducting a “door-to-door” campaign. The first workshop will be held Monday, July 26, at the LVPA Firehouse at 7 p.m. The committee is interested in feedback from voters and will to change its plans if better ideas are brought forward, said Mr. Banker.

In other actions, the Town Board authorized the supervisor to enter into agreement with the Chatham Rescue Squad to provide ambulance services to the town “as soon as possible, but no later than January 1, 2011.”  There are a number of transitional tasks that must be accomplished, according to Christopher Steadman of the Lebanon Valley Protective Association, the current provider of ambulance services. These include obtaining state Department of Health approval of the transfer. The Chatham squad must also arrange for space for the expansion of its service. The LVPA will continue to provide ambulance services to New Lebanon during the transition period.

In a split vote, the board also adopted a local law that will bring to the voters in November a proposal to change the term of office from two years to four years for the positions of highway superintendent, town clerk and tax collector. The required public hearing on this proposal will be held August 9 at 6:45 p.m. at the American Legion Hall.

Saying that the two-year terms help bring the officials holding these positions closer to the people they serve, Mr. Livermore opposed changing the terms.

But board Member Douglas Clark, noting the complicated nature of the duties of these positions, said that he couldn’t imagine how the town would function if the positions turned over every two years.

In another item of business, board members extolled the virtues of what she is trying to accomplish but nonetheless deferred action on Kristin Greer Woolery’s request that the town sign a letter of intent to request funding from the Community Development Block Grant program to support her efforts to start up the Shaker Mountain Canning Company. The board members said that they needed more information before agreeing to apply, and the matter will be placed on the agenda for the July 26 meeting.

 

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