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Kinderhook hopes new funds lead to better water

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By EMILIA TEASDALE

Kinderhook Town Clerk April Pinkowski (l) being sworn in by board member Debbie Devine. Photo by Emilia Teasdale

VALATIE–The Kinderhook Town Board is moving forward with the Water Infrastructure Improvement Project after awarding the contract for the work at the board’s December meeting.

According to Town Supervisor Tim Ooms at the board’s first meeting of 2024 on January 2, Merritt Construction Inc., the company awarded the $1.8 million contract, has ordered the material and wants to get started in the coming weeks.

The plan is to replace the water lines along State Farm Road and on Route 9 to the Village of Valatie. According the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the project, the town will be replacing “several distribution mains,” and it will be “in direct service areas owned and operated by the town.” Approximately 10,000 linear feet of new waterlines will be installed along about 2 miles on Route 9 from the traffic circle, in front of the Ichabod Crane Central School District’s high school building, to the Town of Kinderhook border with the Village of Valatie near the Ocean State Job Lots’ shopping plaza, and 1 mile down State Farm Road to the town owned Volunteer Park.

The town has had issues with these waterlines for years and there have been many discussions about the project and finding the funding to do the work. The plan does not include work on the water tower at Volunteer Park.

In August, Congressman Marc Molinaro (R-19th) announced that he had secured $1.2 million federal funding for the town’s project. Over all, Congressman Molinaro has advocated for over $27 million for community development projects in his district be included in the House’s Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bills.

A press release from Rep. Molinaro’s office said, “Each year, the House Appropriations Committee collects community development project requests from members of Congress for consideration in the upcoming appropriations bill. These requests direct funding to local government or non-profit entities to carry out specific projects that are eligible for federal support and benefit the local community.

The federal funding included in the House’s Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bills would go toward projects that improve roadways and water infrastructure, provide housing to veterans, expand mental healthcare, and help EMS agencies upgrade equipment and facilities. The funding bills must still pass the House, Senate, and be signed by the president to become law.”

The board also used federal ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds to cover the $3,062 cost for a water study by Town Engineer Patrick Prendergast for the project in 2022. At the time, Supervisor Ooms said some of the $531,690.71 APRA funds the town received from the federal government due to the Covid-19 pandemic would be used for the project.

After the August announcement from Rep. Molinaro, Supervisor Oom said in the press release, “On behalf of the residents of the Town of Kinderhook, we would like to thank Rep. Molinaro and his team for assisting us in securing this funding for a much-needed update to our water infrastructure. It is a project that will greatly benefit many of our residents, businesses, and Ichabod Crane School. We are incredibly excited to move forward with this project as we continue to improve our beautiful town.”

At the December 2023 Town Board meeting it was reported that the funds had not been appropriated yet. There are other grants that the town is applying to for funding for the project.

Also at the Town Board meeting:

*The board held its organizational meeting on January 2 before the regular meeting, swearing in reelected Town Supervisor Ooms and Councilman Phil Bickerton. Also sworn in were town Clerk April Pinkowski, who was elected in November to a full term after being appointed to the position in 2022, and newly- elected Councilwoman Sally Naramore, the first Democrat to be elected to the board in 16 years. The board also made committee appointments, including reappointed positions like town assessors, building inspector and attorney, and set meetings dates

*The board approved a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for the solar farm in the town. Town Attorney Andy Howard said the PILOT was reviewed by the county and that it was “favorable” for the town

*There was discussion between the board and Melissa Miller, Climate Smart Community Task Force coordinator, about a community solar program for the town. Ms. Miller said she would look into more companies that offer the service and bring the information to board. Community solar allows residents to get solar energy credits from off-site solar farms rather then putting solar panels are their homes

*After discussion about land use issues and availability of the town’s over 20-year-old Comprehensive Plan and its 2013 draft updates, Councilwoman Naramore said she would volunteer to work on updating the plan. Other board members pointed out that there was a Comprehensive Plan update committee that would need to be consulted before a new committee could be formed.

The next board meeting will be Monday, February 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building. Agendas and minutes can be found at https://www.kinderhook-ny.gov/

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email eteasdale@columbiapaper.com

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