Deadline looms for village sewer project

KINDERHOOK– The Village Board plans to renegotiate the intermunicipal agreement approved by the Valatie Village Board for hooking-up 35 properties in Kinderhook to the Valatie sewer system. Mayor Carol Weaver said at the board’s regular meeting June 13 that she would contact the Village Board’s lawyer, Robert Fitzsimmons, and the mayor of Valatie to try to work out a new agreement.

The board will meet again Friday June 22 to finally decide whether to accept the agreement and move forward with hook-ups. The press for action stems from a time limit about expire on funds for a related project: a sidewalk link between the two villages. The sidewalk project must start this construction season if the two villages are to take advantage of federal and state grant money. The new sewer lines would run under the sidewalk and the lines are part of the sidewalk link designs that have been sent of the state for approval.

Jim Dunham, the project manager on the sidewalk link, said that the village needed to have a decision by July at the latest to get the project started on time. Both the Valatie and Kinderhook boards have expressed concerns at meetings in June about losing funding for that project if delays continue.

But the Kinderhook Board is spilt over whether to go forward with hooking-up 35 properties in the business district to the Valatie sewer, and Kinderhook village residents must have the opportunity to vote to approve borrowing money for the project.

Rich Phillips, a board member who voted in favor of the project, said he would not agree to having a community vote without the municipal agreement in place. “We’ve had five contracts so far and I don’t see us getting any closer,” Mr. Phillips said of the agreement that the Valatie board approved after meeting with Kinderhook board members on June 4.

The agreement that Valatie approved removed wording about total sewer costs, said board member Brain Murphy, who also voted in favor of the sewer connection when board voted in March. He said the contract has “taken away some of the continuity of what some of the costs should be,”

Mr. Murphy worried the new agreement took out many of the protections the Kinderhook Board wanted for the 35 property owners who would have to pay the sewer rates and a yearly fee to cover construction costs for the project.

Kinderhook officials do not want the property in the proposed sewer district to pay any fees for major sewer upgrades to Valatie, which is about to improve its sewage treatment plant. Valatie received a $3.5-million loan for work on the plant, and work should start this summer.

The Kinderhook Board has received several grants help pay for its sewer hook-ups, as well as private donations. Signs have started to show up around the village in support of the sewer. But Village of Kinderhook Zoning Enforcement Office Glenn Smith said the signs were not permitted in the village codes until 30 days before the vote, and the Village Board has not yet set a date for the vote. He said that villagers with signs on their property must take them down and he was taking down the signs placed on village-owned property.

The total cost of the project has gone up since it was discussed at the last meeting in May. Mayor Weaver said costs are estimated at $837,790. The village has over $500,000 in grants and donations, so the board would borrow about $340,000.

Several residents came to the meeting to speak against the sewer connection. “There is no guarantee what the cost will be,” said one resident, pointing out that the costs are already estimated to be higher than what was originally budgeted for.

Mayor Weaver said the board will met to discuss the issue this Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the Village Hall on Route 9.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

 

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