Village adopts new sidewalk maintenance law

The Village Board of Trustees passed a new sidewalk maintenance law at its Nov. 19 meeting requiring homeowners to keep sidewalks adjacent to their properties in “a safe condition” or face up to a $50 fine.

The new law, Local Law No. 2 of 2013, was proposed by Mayor Ernest Martin several months 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.

A public hearing was held prior to adoption with no one from the public speaking out on the law.

The law was drafted from language adopted by other municipalities, requiring sidewalks be left “unobstructed at all times, with their surface in a safe and passable condition free from dirt, weeds, briers, debris, rubbish, encumbrances or obstructions of any kind of character.”

Homeowners or house occupants are also required to keep sidewalks clear of snow and ice with 24 hours after snow ceases to fall, and keep them “covered with ashes, sand or suitable material so as to enable persons thereon to walk safely.”

If a sidewalk becomes damaged, under the new law the property owner is responsible for making sidewalk repair or replacement within 90 days with possible exceptions made during winter months. Those who fail to repair their sidewalk within that 90-day time period could face a fine of $50 for each day the work remains incomplete.

In other business Nov. 19, the Village Board agreed to hire Birchwood Archaeological Services to perform an archaeological survey in an area behind The Stillwater Area Community Center at a cost of $3,342. The work is required by the New York State Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation before the village can proceed with its “force main” sewer project. The land could have historical significance and contain buried artifacts.

Village Trustees also heard the following reports/updates on November 19:

  • Trustee Ellen Vomacka reported that the village has given the go-ahead to hire a contractor to begin a long-discussed project to make 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 project will cost $3,200 and involve removing the existing overhead garage door and wall block to make ready for installation of a larger overhead door, installing a steel beam to support the roof, purchasing and hanging the new door and removing debris.
  • She also reported that she has completed working with the village fire department to rewrite some of the department bylaws in areas where the “wording was very vague.” The new bylaws will now be typed, reviewed by the fire company, and sent to the Village Board for approval.
  • Trustee Vomacka, as part of a village rezoning study committee, also made a recommendation to the Village Board to extend the existing business district to the village line in hopes of clearing up some zoning matters and possibly drawing more business to Stillwater. After several minutes of discussion, the matter was put aside at the request of village attorney James Peluso so the issue could be addressed in executive session.
  • Trustee Timothy Campbell said the village received two bids from dealers for the village to purchase a new utility truck for the Department of Public Works. The truck specifications were “identically equipped” to obtain fair bidding, he said. Orange Motors submitted the winning bid at $41,862 for a new 2014 Ford F-450 truck, which was approved for purchase by the board. The runner-up bid came from Armory Dodge at $44,398.
  • Trustee Judith Wood-Shaw, as leader of the Emergency Management team, requested the village consider purchasing a back up generator for Village Hall in case of a serious power outage. She explained that as part of the emergency plan, Town Hall would become the “command center” and Village Hall would be a back-up location for other services such as court. Mayor Martin advised Wood-Shaw to investigate the cost of contracting with Generac to provide generator services to meet that need.
  • Wood-Shaw also reported that the “gold party” at the October Senior Time event raised $356 for the Stillwater Food Pantry. She also thanked Donna Bove for donating a new Christmas tree and lights for the Dec. 14 Festival of Trees that will be held at The Stillwater Area Community Center. Participants made holiday ornaments for the tree at the November Senior Time.
  • Trustee John Basile reported that the village is still awaiting results of the latest round of water testing after receiving notice from the New York State Department of Health this fall regarding higher than acceptable levels of lead, copper and 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. Since then, the village has installed an Aeromax aeration system that is being piloted at the Dick Lynch water holding tank to hopefully correct the situation.
  • Basile also reported he expects the village’s ongoing water project to be completed by the end of the year. The work at Barbolt Court has also been completed.
  • The Fire Department issued reports for both September and October. In September, the department responded to five alarms and conducted four drills during the month, with 38 members attending. The department also participated in the Uncle Sam Parade in Troy, the Warrior Walk and held a Tag Day. In October, the department responded to six alarms and conducted three drills during the month, with 27 members attending. The department also did its annual house-to-house checks, fire suppression for fireworks, and built and ran a haunted house for Halloween.
  • The fire department also requested that repairs be made to the sign in front of the firehouse as “half the letters are missing.” Mayor Martin said he’s asked three sign companies for estimates to do the work but cannot find one willing to take on the project. He authorized the fire department to look for a vendor, get estimates for the work and bring that information back to the Village Board for a decision.
  • Department of Public Works crews were busy in mid-October to mid-November clearing leaves, sweeping streets, working at the pump station, repairing hydrants, finishing up the Barbolt Court project, and preparing the salt trucks and plows for winter.
  • Code Enforcement Officer Lawrence Allen issued a building permit for a new septic system on Ferry Lane, and a building permit for a new garage on Newland Road.
  • The Village Board took action on three matters related to water billings. The board approved a request from an owner on Clinton Court to reduce his EDU rating from 2 to 1, effective in 2014. The board ruled the address has a one-family home with an in-law apartment not being used. The board rejected a request from the owner of the Lilac Mobile Home Park to be billed monthly instead of quarterly for water usage because it would involve too much bookkeeping on the part of the village and set a precedent for others. On the third matter, the board agreed to send a “return-receipt” notice to a homeowner on Dick Lynch Road to pay an outstanding water usage bill or have the water shut off to the residence.