Outgoing Valatie mayor makes sudden changes

VALATIE – The Village Board held a special meeting at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, March 30, just hours before newly elected board members took their oaths of office. The meeting included the appointment of a new, unelected member the board to fill a sudden vacancy.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the contract with Valatie Local Development Corporation (LDC), according to outgoing Mayor Gary Strevell, who lost the election March 19 election to challenger Diane Argyle. It was the last official meeting presided over by Mr. Strevell, and at the meeting Trustee and Deputy Mayor Jennifer Kolb resigned.

Mr. Strevell appointed Lisa Hill to fill Ms. Kolb’s seat on the board. Ms. Hill ran unsuccessfully for trustee on the Valatie Experience line with Mr. Strevell.

After the early morning meeting, Mr. Stevell said that Ms. Hill would be able to assist the new administration due to her background in finance. She has worked in the publishing industry as a cost estimator for book manufacturing, and has served as treasurer of VERA, the Valatie Economic Redevelopment Association.

Ms. Kolb said she was leaving the board due to recent events that would not allow her to do her job as trustee. She said in statement to the board, “Mayor Strevell and I tried to work with the Northern Columbia Little League Association to revitalize the community not just for now but for years to come. However, due to certain parties, our efforts were thwarted and many untruths were told.”

She was referring to several months of negotiations last fall and winter between the board and the Little League to have the league upgrade the fields and add a concession stand at Callan Park on New Street. In return the league sought the authority to determine when other organizations could use the fields.

The village fire company, located across the street from the park, strongly opposed the plan and negotiations ended a few months ago, when the Little League withdraw its application. Ms. Kolb said in her statement that “this led to Callan Park not getting a much needed renovation for the youth of our community.”

At Saturday’s meeting the board also approved a contract with VRI, the company that manages the wastewater treatment plant, for $109,000 a year. And Mr. Strevell and the two trustees who attended the meeting Saturday–Ms. Kolb and Amy Frienberg-Trufas–approved the purchase by the village of two stoves for the senior center on Williams Street for $2,154.

The board also approved buying two sheds for a total of $6,095. One will be places at the Valatie Community Theater, a building that the village owns, for storage; the other will be on Main Street for the storage of the watering cart.

Before any of these decisions were reached in open session, the board went into executive session for an hour and a half with the village attorney, Bill Better, mayor-elect Argyle and trustee-elect Frank Bevens to discuss the LDC. Jason Nastke, the president of LDC, attended the meeting but was not asked to join the executive session. Mr. Nastke, a former village mayor, left before the board opened the meeting again to the public.

The LDC bought the US Hotel on Main Street last year. The board planned review a contract with the LDC which administered the 1986, 2000, and 2003 revolving loan programs. Though Mr. Strevell said at the start of the meeting that the LDC loan contract was “one of the issues I wanted to clear-up,” the board decided not to make a decision about the contract with the LDC until the new administration takes office.

The new mayor and trustee were sworn in later that day at the Martin H. Glynn School building, which now serves as the village and town hall for some official business.

After the meeting Mr. Strevell said of the new board, “I hope the meetings are as open as I ran them.” He also said that he was sad to see Ms. Kolb leave the board but he said he and his board had left the village in “a very good position.”

Trustee Frienberg-Trufas echoed his sentiments, adding, “It’s been a pleasure and an honor to work with Gary.” Mr. Strevell appointed Ms. Frienberg-Trufas deputy mayor after Ms. Kolb resigned.

The next Village Board meeting will be the organization meeting Tuesday, April 9 at 7 p.m., with the regular meeting starting at 7:30 p.m. Though the village hall has not yet officially moved to the Glynn School on Church Street, board meetings are being held there.


To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .


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