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Chatham joins call for lower speed on Rte. 203


CHATHAM–The Town Board has followed the lead of its colleagues in Kinderhook and passed a motion asking the state to reduce speed limit on Route 203.

But at the board meeting last Thursday, August 20, Chatham Councilman Henry Schwartz suggested that the board not include a specific speed for the limit, saying that would cause the state to reject the request.

The Town of Kinderhook passed a similar motion at its meeting earlier this month. Jane Fulton, the resident who asked for the reduction of the speed limit, attended both the Kinderhook Town Board meeting and the August 20 Chatham Town Board meeting to make the case for the need to reduce the 55 mph limit on the section of the state road near the intersection with county Route 21B. She said it would take resolutions calling for lower limits from the towns of Kinderhook, Chatham and Ghent before the state will consider the change. The section of the highway under discussion passes through all three towns.

The other traffic issue the board discussed at the Chatham Town Board meeting was Albany Turnpike Bridge. The one-lane bridge just off state Route 295 in East Chatham has been a concern for many residents since the an old span was removed in 2013 and a new bridge was rebuilt last year by the railroad company CSX.

“We know there have been accidents,” said resident Adelle Kleiman-Levine, who is circulating a petition asking the state Department of Transportation to put in traffic lights at both the Route 295 and the Albany Turnpike end of the bridge.

“That’s the only way to be safe when you have a one-lane bridge,” she said.

Other residents talked the dangers of having to back onto Route 295 if a car is coming the other way on the bridge. The limited sightlines were also discussed.

Town Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt said that he’d been in contact with state Senator Kathy Marchione (R – 43rd) and Congressman Chris Gibson (R-19th) about funding to make changes to the bridge.

He also said that plans to change the Route 295 entrance to the bridge, which were approved by the board in June, are still being reviewed by the state.

“It’s been a fiasco from the beginning,” said one resident of the new bridge.

“This is what we were stuck with,” said Mr. Swartz, referring to the bridge, which CSX designed, funded and which the company currently owns. He and Supervisor DeGroodt stressed that the town had yet to take ownership of the bridge. “As far as we’re concerned the bridge isn’t finished,” Mr. Swartz said.

“Nobody on this board is denying that there is a safety issue and something needs to be done about it,” he said.

The three board members present at the meeting agreed to have the town attorney review the resolution asking the state to look into safety issues at the intersection.

Supervisor DeGroodt advised residents with concerns about the bridge and its approaches to “get on the phone to DOT.”

Mr. Swartz said that residents should call the state every day about the matter.

Also at the August 20 meeting:

  • The board tabled the discussion about hiring one of three accounting firms to be town comptroller. Board members had interviewed the companies that applied for the position earlier that week, but at the meeting two board members were not present, so the decision was postponed until next month
  • The board discussed trespassers on River Road who use a swimming hole that is on private property. Ted Miner, the owner of Chatham Bowl, said at the meeting that he has stopped allowing people to use his parking lot if they are going to the swimming hole. John and Anita Fiorillo, the owners of the property, talked about issues with fires and garbage at the site and the possibility of people getting hurt.

Mr. DeGroodt said trespassers will be ticketed if they are on the property

  • Chatham Village Mayor Tom Curran attended the meeting to inform the Town Board of a request from Chatham Brewing to use of the shared municipal parking lot on Main Street for an Octoberfest event; Mayor Curran also reported on the progress of the committee working on upgrades to the Tracy Memorial building. The town rents the top floor of the historic building, using it for the town court.

The next Chatham Town Board meeting is Thursday, September 17 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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