Trustees consider purchase of special snow removal machine for village sidewalks

girl skates at ice rink
The Village Board agreed to purchase four new lights and electrical supplies to upgrade the ice skating rink near the American Legion.

With winter right around the corner, the village is considering purchasing a special commercial vehicle that would clear snow from sidewalks, especially along the Hudson Avenue business strip and routes where children walk to school.

The vehicle, which could cost more than $50,000 with various attachments, was the point of a 30-minute discussion at this month’s Board of Trustees (Oct. 20) meeting.

A few years ago the village completed a federally funded sidewalk project in the Northend, specifically designed to keep students from walking in the high traffic thoroughfare to and from Stillwater Central School. But since that time, keeping those sidewalks clear of snow and ice during the winter along busy Hudson Avenue has become an issue.

In the fall of 2013 Trustees attempted to solve that problem by passing a sidewalk maintenance law requiring homeowners to keep sidewalks adjacent to their properties in “a safe condition” or face up to a $50 fine. But two years later, that law hasn’t been easy to enforce.

“What about the residents who won’t or the ones who can’t (take care of their sidewalks)?” said Mayor Rick Nelson, who was not in office when the sidewalk maintenance law was adopted.

“I want to be a ‘can-do’ person and this is something I think we can do for the village. I think we need to take a hard look at this.”

Trustee Judith Wood-Shaw disagreed, saying the maintenance law she helped pass clearly places that responsibility on the homeowner.

“I think $50,000 or more is a lot to spend on clearing snow,” Wood-Shaw said. “Are we going to have to hire another person to run (the new vehicle)? And what about the people living on the other streets? This doesn’t seem fair to me.”

Mayor Nelson said the first priority, should the village purchase the vehicle, would be to focus on Hudson Avenue after a snow storm “so kids can walk to school safely and the business district is passable. Then when we get used to it maybe we can expand to Park Avenue and Lake Street.”

“It’s not going to be perfect,” the mayor added. “We are going to run into bumps along the way but we’ll get through it.”

Trustee Timothy Campbell, who did the research, said the vehicle would also spread salt and sand in addition to blowng snow. He added that it would also be multi-purpose beyond winter use with other attachments available enabling it to cut grass and vacuum grass clipping and leaves as well. The village has an option of purchasing it through a three-year interest free loan from the supplier.

Village Attorney James Peluso said the vehicle purchase may be subject to public bidding and is investigating it further.

But before proceeding with the research, Mayor Nelson took a poll of Trustees to see if it was something they would even consider supporting. All Trustees, except Wood-Shaw, said it was worth pursuing. The motion carried by a vote of 4-1.

In other business October 20:

  • The Mayor introduced Eunice Marshall of Hudson Avenue as the newest village Trustee. This was Marshall’s first board meeting since being appointed by the mayor to fill the seat formerly held by John Murphy. Murphy, who joined the board last April, resigned in September for personal reasons. Mayor Nelson also thanked Murphy for his six months of service and helping the village to “negotiate” several key issues.
  • Village Engineer Ed Hernandez reported that he has had discussions with the grant writers who indicated that the village should expect a response from the state by December. Grant applications were submitted for funding on the Hillside Tank project and for additional improvements to the waste water treatment plant and Bunce Lane pump station. Plans and specifications for the rehabilitation of the Hillside Tank and water line have been completed and forwarded to various state agencies for approval, he also said. Engineering staff have also completed and submitted applications for a wetland crossing to NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Trustees approved spending up to $2,600 from the Parks and Recreation budget to purchase four new lights and electrical supplies for the ice skating rink at the request of Trustee Campbell.
  • Trustee Wood-Shaw reported that all of the new equipment for the Major Dickinson playground has been ordered and 80 volunteers from Momentive will be coming to finish the project before winter. This includes rehabbing the gazebo, installing security equipment, benches and picnic tables. Once the work is completed the village will hold an official playground ribbon-cutting. A date has not yet been set.