Trustees hold public hearing on new sidewalk maintenance law

The Stillwater Board of Trustees postponed action on a new sidewalk maintenance law Tuesday night (September 17) sending it back to the village attorney to revise language concerning residents’ responsibilities and possible fines for noncompliance.

The move came following a public hearing and 30 minutes of discussion among Trustees, many of whom felt a $250 a day fine for failing to clear snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of their house within 24 hours following a storm was “much too steep” for residents to pay. Instead, the board settled on a $50 fine plus a fine of $50 for each subsequent day the problem is not taken care of. Trustees also discussed possible warnings for first time offenders.

The new law, Local Law No. 2 of 2013, was proposed by Mayor Ernest Martin several weeks ago following the completion of the new sidewalk project along Rt. 4 leading to Stillwater Central Schools. The village, he said, never had a law on the books like other municipalities regarding sidewalk maintenance and the responsibilities of residents in that matter.

“The law is to protect the village,” the mayor said. “Sidewalk maintenance not our responsibility. But if someone falls and gets hurt because the sidewalks are not properly maintained they are going to go after the village. So residents need to know their responsibilities.”

Trustee and Deputy Mayor John Basile said he’d also like to see “spelled out” in the new law language relating to sidewalk damage. If residents damage or have a sidewalk in front of their homes removed to, for example, run piping or wiring to their homes they would be responsible for repairing or replacing that section of sidewalk within 90 days unless it occurs in the winter months (then they would have until June 30 to comply). By the same token, if the village damages or removes a section of sidewalk it would be up to the village to repair or replace it.

“Without that language, I think the law is incomplete,” Basile said.

The Village Board expects to address the new sidewalk law at its regular October meeting once the language is rewritten.

In other business, Mayor Martin told the Village Board that he has been notified by the New York State Department of Transportation that the state will be milling and repaving the main village thoroughfare Rt. 4 in mid-October. The road work will go from village line on the south to Montgomery Place near the Catholic church. No parking signs will be posted on Rt. 4 during the milling process, he said.

Village Trustees also heard the following reports/updates on September 17:

  • Trustees welcomed the newest member of the Village Board, Stillwater resident Timothy Campbell, who was appointed recently to fill a vacancy on the board left by the resignation of Keith Collins. Collins, who was reelected to a new four-year term in March, has moved from Stillwater and no longer can serve on the board. He officially resigned in August.
  • The Fire Department responded to nine alarms in August and conducted four drills during the month, with 25 members attending. The department also participated in the Turning Point Parade in Schuylerville and held a Tag Day.
  • Department of Public Works crews were busy in August and September painting village fire hydrants, sweeping streets, working at the pump station, mowing grass and working to help install the new Aeromax aeration system that is being piloted at the Dick Lynch water holding tank.
  • Code Enforcement Officer Lawrence Allen issued a demolition permit for a mobile home on Ferry Lane, and issued two permits for concrete slabs for double-wide manufactured homes.
  • Village Clerk Sheristin Tedesco reported she recently passed the notary exam and will become a notary public as soon as the application process is completed. She also reported that village water meter readings are underway for September.
  • Trustee Judith Wood-Shaw announced that after a summer hiatus, the village’s monthly Senior Time Program is scheduled to resume on Friday, September 27, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Stillwater Area Community Center. She also discussed the possibility of forming a foundation entitled “Friends of Major Dickinson Park” and apply for foundation money through GlobalFoundaries to purchase new playground equipment.
  • Trustee Timothy Campbell requested the village pay one third of the cost of a new fork lift device that could be attached to the village tractor to lift and move picnic tables at Blockhouse Park so DPW crews can mow the lawn there without interruption. The town has agreed to pay two-thirds of the cost, he said. Crews, at present time, have to move the tables by hand and the tables weigh up to 200 pounds. The Village Board approved spending up to $2,000 for its share of the cost for the device.
  • Trustees approved a request from a resident on Colonial Road to connect into the village water supply system. The resident will be required to pay a $1,500 tap and meter fee as well as the cost of boring underneath the road to connect the piping. A contract will be drawn up.
  • Trustee Ellen Vomacka read a letter from residents living near the recently completed village sidewalk project commending the workers for their professionalism and courtesy. “We can’t say enough about them,” the letter stated.
  • Trustees also discussed the possibility of making alterations to the old water treatment plant at the end of Ferry Lane so the fire department can store its antique steamer truck there. The truck is now stored at the DPW garage and moving it would give DPW crews more room to operate. The alterations would involve raising the door somehow so the truck can fit inside the storage building. The Village Board has discussed the move before without taking action but this month Trustee Vomacka pushed the point saying, “this has gone on and on and on and the issue needs to be resolved. It’s time something happened with that,” she said. “That steamer is one of a kind and needs to be protected.” Trustees would not commit to the project until they examine the cost and asked the fire chief to get some estimates for the work.
  • Trustee Basile reported that the work has been completed installing the Aeromax aeration system that is being piloted at the Dick Lynch water holding tank to help lower a higher than acceptable formation of “disinfection byproducts” known as Trihalomethanes in the village’s drinking water supply. Trihalomethanes are a byproduct of drinking water disinfection, which is needed to kill harmful organisms before the water can be consumed. Aeromax became operation on September 9. “The next step is to see how beneficial it will be,” he said. New water samples will be taken on September 25.
  • Trustee Basile also reported that the village can expect a surplus in unused water funds from its USGA loan of anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000 when the loan is closed out possibly in December. He suggested paying down the loan further before it is closed out with the lending agency. Paying the loan down $150,000 at current interest rates could save the village about $8,000 a year in reduced payments over the span of the loan. Basile also reiterated what he told Trustees in August that completion of the Town of Stillwater’s pending water project will cost the village nearly $117,000 in annual revenues to its own water budget beginning in 2016. In the planning process for several years, the town has approved plans to create new Water District No. 6, installing the necessary piping so it can draw directly from the Saratoga County Water Authority (SCWA). The change will mean the town can buy its water directly from SCWA instead of using the village as a middleman and paying a higher usage rate.
  • Mayor Martin and Trustees will attend the City of Mechanicville’s annual Economic Summit, business meeting and dinner on October 3 at the Elks Club.