KINDERHOOK–The Village Board moved one step closer last week to connecting the business district to Valatie’s sewer system, as a divided board voted to meet with an attorney about borrowing as much as $300,000 to cover part of the $700,000 project.
The village has been awarded about $354,000 in state and federal grants and has promises of $70,000 in private donations to support building a sewer line under the main streets in the Kinderhook business district that will empty into the sewer plant on Route 9 in neighboring Valatie.
At the special meeting on the sewer funding Wednesday, March 28 Mayor Carol Weaver said the board is debating how much to borrow by issuing bonds. The two amounts currently under discussion are $300,000 and $243,000. The board does not yet know the total cost of the project, and the lower number may not be an option once the plans are complete.
If the village borrows $300,000, all village residents would pay $21 a year for the life of a 20-year bond for the construction costs. Businesses that receive sewer service would pay $142 per “unit” each year for the life of the bond. Property owners in the business district, both business and residential, on Hudson, Broad and Chatham streets and Albany Avenue would also pay for sewer use at a rate of $8.05 per 1,000 gallons of water used. The sewer use rate is not affected by the bond repayment.
One of the concerns facing the village is a government requirement attached funds from the Capital Region Economic Development Council, a $280,000 grant that says the village must guarantee that the project will result in the creation of 37 jobs in the business district.
Robert Fitzsimmons, the village lawyer, said he talked to Kenneth Flood, the Commissioner of the county Planning and Economic Development Department, who said he’s never seen the state ask for grant money back unless there was fraud. “They are going to work with you to try and make this project work,” Mr. Fitzsimmons said of the state.
Mayor Weaver said she has talked to the owner of the Dutch Inn, Al Roberts, about jobs in his building. “When he’s able to flush a toilet, the inn will open,” she told the board. Mr. Roberts has agreed in writing to contribute $50,000 to the sewer line construction project.
As the board discussed talking to an attorney about issuing bonds, it became clear that the vote to borrow to pay for the project would lead to a split decision. “I don’t think any of those businesses went out of business because of the lack of sewer,” Trustee Robert Puckett said of the stores and restaurants that have closed on the main streets of the village. Mr. Puckett worried about spending the money on the sewer when there were other projects in the village that need attention.
Trustee Dale Leiser worried about the job creation part of the grant. “Al Roberts himself can’t guarantee 37 jobs,” he said. He and Mr. Puckett voted against the motion.
“I think it’s a chance we won’t get again,” said Trustee Rich Phillips of hooking up to the Valatie sewer. Mayor Weaver echoed that sentiment, saying that it was something that would have to happen down the road and the board should move ahead with now while the grant money is available. Trustee Brian Murphy also voted for borrowing the money, making it the vote 3-to-2 in favor of proceeding.
The board also plans to move forward with the required environmental review of the sewer project.
Mr. Fitzsimmons said officials are still working out the intermunicipal agreement with Valatie for sewer service.
The board voted last week to retain Clark Engineering to work on the plans for placing the sewer line beneath the sidewalk that will link the villages of Kinderhook and Valatie. Construction of the sidewalk, which is separate from the sewer project, should get under way this summer.
The village hall room was crowded with residents at the meeting waiting to hear the board’s decision. Paul Calcagno, a local developer who managed LaBella’s Pizza, which has a restaurant in the village, said that the pizzeria did close several years ago because of the lack of sewer. Mr. Calcagno has offered the village $10,000 toward the project, along with Mr. Roberts’ $50,000 and another $10,000 from Barry Herbold of Empire State Appraisal Consultants.
Other business owners worried the board was not properly projecting the real cost of the project. And if the jobs are not created and the state asks for its money back, they worried that they would be stuck with paying more.
“We have to have a lot of faith,” said the owner of the Kinderhook Corner Market.
The board plans to hold public hearings and other meetings about the project. Mayor Weaver said the Monday after the meeting that the board needed to make final decisions in the next few months.
The next regular meeting is Wednesday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the village hall.