By DOUG LAROCQUE
NEW LEBANON – Earlier this year the New Lebanon Town Board voted to go ahead with an engineering study for the construction of a splash pad at Shatford Park. The preliminary estimates placed the cost on the high end at about $75,000. Included were funds for a test well, as the town’s only current well would not be able to feed a splash pad with the desirable water pressure.
Fast forward to the November 14 meeting of the town board. The estimated final cost for a splash pad is now pegged at $300,000. On top of that, the test well came back as unusable. It was quite a case of sticker shock and disappointment. Town Supervisor Tistrya Houghtling presented the board with three scenarios as she saw it. Follow the engineer’s recommendation, they find a site to drill a second test well. The cost of the first well came in well under the approved expenditure and could be worked into the finances. They could spend their money instead on making repairs to a water feature that currently exists but is unusable and considered dangerous or table the entire splash pad idea all together.
It was mentioned the town used to have a second well but gave it to a neighbor to use after the town was deemed responsible for contaminating their well. It was proposed to consider retesting the contaminated well, to see if that contamination still exists. If not, perhaps the town could reclaim their second well. The board agreed it was worth looking into, and decided to hold off on the splash pad, at least for now.
Other ideas that came forth were simply purchasing some lawn sprinklers or even continuing using the nearby stream. Board members Norm Rasmussen and John Trainor, sort of tongue in cheek, said sprinklers and streams worked well for them as kids, maybe they still could.
Before moving to adopt next year’s spending plan, Supervisor Houghtling brought forth five changes to the preliminary town budget she said were spawned by comments made at the budget’s public hearing. All were relatively minor in the scope of the entire budget. The added expenditures will be covered by transferring funds from the unexpended fund balance. The changes brought the total budget to $2,726,349. The tax rate will drop from $2.89 per thousand assessed valuation in the current budget, to $2.43 per thousand next year, a decrease of 46 cents. Part of that is because the total assessed value of parcels in the town increased by $58.2 million. The unexpended fund balance is $323,575.
Earlier in the year there was an incident at the town hall that threatened the security of all present at the time. It was resolved with no injuries. It did cause Supervisor Houghtling and some board members to consider enhanced security measures. At the October meeting, it was decided to put out bids for four bulletproof doors and a ring camera system. The ring system would cost the town anywhere from $29,435 to $41,000 and included monthly service charges. The concern with the ring system was most desks would have a camera. While one person may decide not to allow the person at the door entrance, someone else might. That could potentially be a problem. The bullet proof doors protect the employees in their rooms, even if a person bent on doing harm makes their way into the building.
The bid for the four doors came in at $46,100, but that does not include installation. There is currently one such door in the town hall, protecting the judge’s chambers. Ms. Houghtling said her recollection was it cost about $1,500 to install that door, but quickly added, “don’t hold me to that.” The board decided to reject the ring camera bid and go with the bulletproof doors, but not to actually purchase them until a new bid for installation was put forth and the dollar figures received.
Also at the meeting:
*The Town Board appointed Robert Long to the post of Community Center Coordinator, effective December 1, the date the Community Center is slated to open. The appointment is only until the end of the year. Long would have to reapply for 2024. The appointments for the coming year will be made at the board’s re-organizational meeting in January
*The board introduced a local law that would see changes made to the town codes that would allow the construction of new or expansion of current self-storage facilities, under some new and more stringent guidelines. A public hearing on the proposed law will be held prior to the board’s December 12 meeting. The Town Board also declared themselves lead agency for the required State Environmental Quality Review Act, often known as SEQRA
*The board agreed to 2024 contracts with the Chatham Rescue Squad for ambulance service and the Lebanon Valley Protective Association for fire department services. They also recommended Steve Powers re-appointment to the Columbia County Climate Smart Task Force.