Artist floats big idea in Chatham

CHATHAM—Local artist Melissa Sarris has asked Village Board members for permission to float “environmental sculptures” on Old Pond. She discussed her proposal with trustees at the Water and Sewer meeting Thursday, June 25.

   The board also discussed the possible purchase of a sludge processing machine for the village, which would process sewage. Trustee George Grant and village employees visited the community of Bainbridge in Chenango County, to see the sludge machine at work. Mr. Grant said that it was a fairly new technology, but that it would be “smaller, more efficient then a sludge processor.” The new machine would cost between $150,000 and $160,000. No decision of whether or not to purchase the equipment was made at the meeting.

   Mayor Paul Boehme reported that crews will be blacktopping roads in the village as part of the ongoing road and storm sewer upgrade project. Work will continue on Hudson Avenue as well at the sites where new village drainage from Thomas Street to Austerlitz Street tie into the new state system. The crews from A. Colarusso and Son, the main contractor on the project, will also be finishing up sidewalk work. Mr. Boehme said this blacktopping is “everything up to the final coat.” Work is still scheduled to end this fall.

   The board will discuss a proposal to allow businesses on Main Street to have signs that project out from local buildings rather than hang parallel against the front wall. Until at least the 1960s, small signs hung out over the sidewalks of Main Street, creating a different and, proponent say, a more helpful way for motorists and pedestrians to see what businesses are in the village.

   A draft proposal that would permit such signs was given to board members at the previous meeting, and the mayor said the proposed law has “plain, simple language” and is “right to the point.”

But Trustee Patrick Wemitt worried about the size of the signs, saying the that the proposal would only permit signs of “pretty small dimensions.”

    The board plans to revisit the proposal at its July 9 meeting.      

   The board adopted a motion to support Ms. Sarris’ plan to place two or three wooden structures made from small branches and twigs in Old Pond this August. In her proposal Ms. Sarris said, “The reasons for this could be aesthetic, surprise or even wonder.” She said that the ecosystem of the pond would not be affected, since the sculptures would be made of natural materials. She also offered to fix the dock near Shore Road for better access to the pond.

“Let her float her sticks; she’ll fix the dock,” said Mr. Grant.

   About half the pond, which borders the Chatham school campus, lies within the village.

   Ms. Sarris was not sure exactly when the sculptures will be complete and ready for launch, but she hoping for mid-August and plans to let them float for 7 to 10 days. “It sounds really easy but it’s not,” she said.

   The board will meet only once in July and once in August. Both meetings will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Tracy Memorial on the second Thursday of the month. 

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