VALATIE – Representatives from Delaware Engineering P.C., an Albany firm that deals with water and sewer plant issues, attended Tuesday night’s Village Board meeting again this month. The board started the process at last month’s meeting of finding funding for a $2.3-million sewer treatment upgrade project.
Also this week, the board approved adding a county meals program for seniors to the schedule at the senior center. The program recently shut down its operations in Chatham.
Mary Beth Bianconi, a senior project manager with Delaware Engineering, was at the January 11 meeting to complete the state Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) with the board. The questions on the form that the board signed off on at the meeting had to do with environmental impact. Ms. Bianconi said the scope of the proposed project will stay inside the current boundaries of the village’s waste treatment plant and not change its physical appearance much.
What may change at the plant after the project is completed is a smell village residents have complained about. “A purpose of doing this is to decrease the odor at the plant,” Ms. Bianconi said, reading from the SEQR review. She said the company also plans to address energy use at the plant with these upgrades.
The village is planning to go ahead with a $200,000 project to purchase a machine called a channel grinder, which would help with the flow of the waste system. Mayor Gary Strevell said that officials would discuss the loans needed to cover that project at the February meeting, and Ms. Bianconi said they would also have to order the grinder itself.
As for the major upgrades, Mr. Strevell said, “The $2.3 million is a larger future project should the funding become available.”
Ms. Bianconi said that the village has met state requirements for hardship funding, which would make the project eligible for loans at little or no interest and possibly for grants and other outside funds. She stressed the importance of having all the paperwork ready to hand the state when the application is due on March 1, so that when funds become available the village has met the criteria for receiving the money.
RCAP Solutions is conducting an income survey as part of the application by the village for funds, and representatives will be going door to door in the coming weeks to collect information. Ms. Bianconi stressed again how important that information will be to help find funding for the project.
The board has not discussed the details of the $2.3 million in upgrades, though that cost does include the $200,000 channel grinder project. Ms. Bianconi talked about needed upgrades to a system that is 35 to 40 years old.
The board also discussed looking at upgrading the lights in village buildings. Engineers with the project, which is sponsored by National Grid, conducted a walk-through of village buildings in December and recently sent the results to the board. Unfortunately the costs of changing lighting fixtures would not yield the savings over time that the board had hoped for. But the utility did find that the village would save money by changing to more efficient light fixtures at the sewer plant.
The board also went back and forth over the cost for upgrading the firehouse. National Grid will pay $3700 to upgrade the firehouse, and asked village to pay about $2,000. The company says the savings on the light bill could be $40 a month. The village would see a benefit from the upgrades in three years.
“I was hoping for bigger numbers,” said Trustee Jennifer Furey, who had initially contacted National Grid. The board tabled a decision on the changes until next month.
The village has added the Columbia County Office of Aging Nutrition Program for the Elderly to the Valatie Senior Center’s schedule. The program is a donation-based lunch program that will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays for county residents 60 years old and older. The program has closed its Chatham operation due to lack of attendance and has been looking for a new home, Mr. Strevell said. “Seniors going to the Chatham program are welcome,” he said.
The board, along with members of the village Planning and Zoning Boards will meet February 9 to discuss a village zoning map. Information about the meeting will be available at the village office.
As the board met this week, up the road in Kinderhook the Ichabod Crane School Board was hosting a public forum about the prospect of closing the elementary schools in Valatie and Kinderhook. When asked about possibility of this happening, Mr. Strevell said that the village has no legal standing to oppose the district’s decision, but looking at enrollment numbers it’s not surprising they are talking about closing a space. He also said the board would meet with the school administration and hopefully find some use for the building in the future.
The next board meeting will be Tuesday, February 8 at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall.