Walking trail gets thumbs up, parking’s on hold

CHATHAM – The Village Board has adopted a resolution supporting the Harlem Valley Rail Trail’s plans to extend the multi-use trail into the village, mostly along Route 66/Hudson Avenue. The non-profit Rail Trail group has sought the support of local municipalities to bolster its application for a state grant that would help pay for the design of the 11-mile section of the trail from Philmont to Chatham, a section the group is calling the Northwest 11.

At the Thursday July 12 regular meeting the board put off a decision on a plan to pave the dirt parking area between the stores on the east side of Main Street and the train tracks. Former Mayor Paul Boehme worked out a proposed lease with CSX, the company that owns the train tracks and the land, to use that space for parking. But the lease was not signed by the board, and while storeowners and tenants of the Main Street buildings park there now, they have no permits or approval from CSX to use those spaces.

Mr. Boehme worried that CSX might eventually eliminate all public use of that land, and he thought that could be prevented if the board leased the land, paved the property and sold permits to park there. The board has also discussed having delivery trucks use the lane near the tracks to reduce truck traffic on Main Street.

After a new mayor, Tom Curran, was elected last year, the new board considered commissioning a traffic study that would address parking issues in the village. But Trustee Lael Locke, now the senior member of the board, brought a 1999 traffic study to the meeting Thursday night and board members discussed paying a specialist $700 to review parking options in the village.

“We have this study and we all know where the parking is,” said Trustee Lenore Packet. Other board members suggested talking to local business owner Rich Kraham about signs for parking in the village, since he has worked in that field in other areas of the state.

The board also talked about the proposal to spend $155,000 to pave the parking lot behind Main Street. CSX has said that before that could happen the village would have to pay for tests to determine whether the soil is polluted. The rail company also says the village would have to pay for paving the site.

“I’m really opposed to speeding $155,000 we don’t have,” said Mayor Curran.

Village Clerk Barbara Fischer said that not all the village parking spaces that require permits have been taken.

“To me, it’s kind of a lose-lose situation,” said Trustee Locke of conducting soil tests. She believes CSX knows there is some ground contamination at that property.

Trustee Joanne DelRossi suggested looking into the permit fees for the spaces the village currently has. She also said that even though the village will have a lease with CSX to use the land, the railroad company could still make a no-parking rule if CSX determines it’s unsafe to have cars there.

The board does not plan to go forward with the $700 traffic study but made no final decision on the paving of the parking lot.

As for the Rail Trail, which would follow the old Harlem Valley Line rail beds, board members were excited about having the handicap accessible trail, which might end at the Kinderhook Bank parking lot in the village. The bank building was the former station.

Trustee Packet said she supported the trail so that people, especially kids, have a way safe way to get between Chatham and Ghent.

The board met in executive session with their special counsel about the agreement the board and Price Chopper are making over use of village water and sewer for their new Price Chopper building on Route 66. A lawyer for the Hampshire Company, which owns the building that now houses the Price Chopper supermarket, also met with the board behind closed doors.

The next regular board meeting is Thursday, August 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Tracy Memorial in Chatham.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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