Chatham readies borrowing for road gear, bridge and park

CHATHAM–The town moved a step closer this month to borrowing more than $1 million to pay for approximately $1.2 million in spending for the Highway Department and for projects at Crellin Park and the White Mills Bridge. The need to fund the projects led to the decision last fall by the Town Board to exceed the 2% tax levy cap.

The town will issue bonds to raise the funds, with the Town Board expecting to pay off the debt in five years. The board finalized the decision to issue the bonds at its March 21 meeting; the action starts a 60-day period during which Chatham residents may file petitions calling for a townwide referendum on the borrowing.

Also at the March 21 meeting the board accepted bids totaling over $700,000 for highway equipment that will be funded by the bonds. The Highway Department purchases include replacements for old equipment that isn’t worth repairing, according to Highway Superintendent Joe Rickert.

The board has budgeted approximately $150,000 for a renovation of the pavilion at Crellin Park, which Town Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt and Recreation Director Shari Franks have said would not pass inspection in the coming year.

Ms. Franks has submitted tentative specifications to the board for the structure she’d like to see built, and the board will send them out for bid in the coming months.

“We can always decide not to go with any of the bids,” Ms. Franks said at the meeting.

There is $250,000 allocated for repair of the White Mills Bridge, which is funded in large part by the federal government. The town is responsible for only about 5% of the total cost of the project, Mr. DeGroodt said at the meeting.

The town is also grappling with another bridge, the span on Albany Turnpike Road owned by CSX, which owns the rail lines. CSX has agreed to repair the bridge, which had its maximum weight capacity downgraded from 20 tons to 4 tons by the state Department of Transportation last year.

Though a deal has been struck, there is discrepancy in how the repairs are being done, which Mr. DeGroodt said at the meeting is now in the hands of the town’s lawyers.

At the meeting Mr. DeGroodt sought legal advice in finalizing a short assessment form for a state Environmental Quality Review, or SEQR, regarding a potential music festival proposed for Chatham this summer. With the SEQR form complete, and a public hearing on the matter closed, the board voted to approve plans to hold the festival, called the “Destination Moon and Music Festival.”

The festival’s Facebook page describes the event as an “ immersive artistic experience with a minimal ecological footprint.”

“We have partnered with the non-profit organization Solaqua Power & Art and Sundog Solar to produce an event that will integrate music and the arts with sustainable energy,” the site reads.

The board adopted Local Law #1 for the year, adjusting the public assembly law to allow such an event.

 

 

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