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Will no more house mean safer turns?


ANCRAM—Local observers believe the intersection of State Route 82 and County Route 7 in the Ancram hamlet is a bad accident waiting to happen.

Though studies by the state Department of Transportation over the years have indicated otherwise, town officials, at the urging of residents, keep trying make the intersection safer.

At the March 15 Town Board meeting, Supervisor Art Bassin said he and town Highway Superintendent Jim Miller recently met with two men from DOT. Thomas E. Story, is the new acting resident engineer for Region 8 and Rick Frick is the new assistant acting engineer. They came to introduce themselves and ask the town to sign a shared-services agreement, which would allow DOT and the town to assist and support each other in the event of disasters that do not rise to the declaration of a state of emergency by the governor.

While the DOT officials were in town, Supervisor Bassin diverted their attention to the 82/7 intersection for a tête-à-tête about improving the turn radius from 82 to 7 going north.

Mr. Bassin told the board that DOT would be interested in such a project if the Tinsmith House could be acquired and torn down.

The supervisor said he spoke to the owner of the house, Dennis Berry, who told him he would consider donating it. For some time, Mr. Berry has been trying to sell the dilapidated house that sits on the northeast corner of the intersection. The house abuts the also crumbling, Porter’s Store, to the west.

Mr. Bassin said before he asks Mr. Berry to commit to donating the house, he wants the town to have a sit-down with state and county highway officials to come up with an agreed-upon conceptual plan for a long-term fix for the intersection. Reached by phone this week, Mr. Bassin said he hopes to have that meeting in late April.

We don’t want a building with no commitment” on a plan for the intersection, Mr. Bassin said at the meeting.

Councilman David Boice said the problem is that drivers entering the intersection headed south on County Route 7 cannot see up Route 82 (looking northwest.) “The Stiehle house is what we need to own, not Tinsmith; the Stiehle house needs to move back,” he said. The Stiehle house sits on the south side of Route 82, within inches of the highway, and just east of the firehouse. The Stiehle house is owned by the Ancram Preservation Group (APG), which plans to stabilize and restore it.

Councilwoman Madeleine Israel agreed with Mr. Boice, noting that to improve the intersection, drivers have to be able to see both ways, adding that “it’s harder to see uphill” looking northwest up Route 82.

Mr. Bassin said that moving the Stiehle house would also fix the turn radius going up 7.

The sight distance looking “uphill won’t be fixed unless the road [County Route 7, north] moves out,” said Mr. Boice, who also noted three “big” utility poles at the northwest corner of the intersection on Route 82 need to go. He said he has previously “tried to get Central Hudson to put the service underground” without success. Mr. Bassin said he would inquire of the APG if their plans involve moving the Stiehle house back.

Mr. Boice also suggested that Mr. Bassin look into having the county take down the Tinsmith house, but Mr. Bassin said by phone that he was told the county does not have that capability.

He said that no matter whether the town, county or state acquires the Tinsmith house, and also possibly Porter’s Store, it will cost a municipal entity much more to take down the structures because they must follow prevailing wage rules. If the current private owners of the structures, Mr. Berry of the Tinsmith house and Donna and Joe Hoyt of Porter’s Store, were to do it themselves, it would cost them half as much, Mr. Bassin said.

In other road-related business, Highway Superintendent Miller reported needing to purchase additional sand and salt due to the relentless winter. Mr. Miller used up his $60,000 budget allotment for sand and salt and had to move $15,000 from his road repair line to cover it.

Three nor’easters during the first three weeks of March wreaked havoc here. Mr. Miller said the first two storms dumped 18-inches apiece and the third one left one side of town with about six-inches and the other side of town—Boston Corners along the Massachusetts border—with over a foot. “It was the storm that kept on giving,” he said.

Telling the board “it has been a difficult month,” Mr. Miller said: 350 hours worth of overtime have been logged by the highway crew since the beginning of the year; a town truck got stuck in a ditch while trying to turn around on Hall Hill Road; a car rear-ended a plow truck, while attempting to go around it; a town pick-up truck got stuck near Friar Tuck Road; and while a truck was plowing, a tree fell down on it and broke the hood. Mr. Miller said he got stuck twice, once sliding into a tree.

The superintendent said at one point he had two plows up on Winchell Mountain attempting to keep the road open until he decided “it was just too dangerous” and closed the road.

Councilman Boice, who is also the Ancram Fire Chief, said his company got a carbon monoxide detector alarm call at that time on Carson Road, which is also on the mountain. The chief said he tried to respond to the call by going over the mountain, but was told by Mr. Miller he’d have to take a different route, “You’ll never get there this way.”

So the chief had to travel out East Ancram Road to County Route 3, then south on Route 22 to Carson Road.

When he finally arrived at the house, nearly an hour after the original call, Mr. Boice said, the house appeared deserted, but a man who was asleep inside answered the door and said his power had gone off. He said he had no generator and consequently no heat, no electricity and had nothing running that could create a carbon monoxide problem. To top it off the man said he didn’t even know he had an automatic system that would notify authorities in an emergency—which this clearly was not.

The next Town Board meeting is April 19  at 7 p.m.

To contact Diane Valden email

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