Chatham, needing better court, eyes waterfront

CHATHAM – The Town Board appointed a committee last week to look into building a new courthouse and recreation center at Crellin Park. Currently the town court is housed at the Tracy Memorial in the Village of Chatham and the Recreation Program had to tear down a small building near the pond last summer, leaving the program without an indoor space.

Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt said at the regular board meeting October 27, that in the 2014 budget now under discussion the board already has $24,000 in rent for use of the Tracy Memorial building courtroom facilities. But he said the judges and clerks have come to him saying the space inappropriate place for the court because of security concerns and the limited handicap accessibility. “It sort of appears we have outgrown of our space there,” he said of the Tracy.

The supervisor said the board could take the rent plus money in the town clerk’s budget and apply those funds to borrowing the amount needed to pay for a new building. The committee will meet two Thursdays, November 7 and November 21, at 6 p.m. to discuss a feasibility study and look at the needs of both the court and the Recreation Program.

At last Thursday’s meeting the board also reviewed a proposed new law that would limit the time garbage cans could be left at the roadside to 72 hours. Board member Maria Lull repeated an objection she raised previously, saying that the problem is that private haulers are not picking up the trash on schedule.

“This only regulates the landowners,” said Town Attorney Tal Rappleyea.

The board will continue to review the law.

Several town residents attended the meeting to complain about the delay in construction on the White Mills Bridge. They were concerned that construction had started on another bridge in the town but not the one in their community.

Supervisor DeGroodt said that construction on the White Mills Bridge was being mostly funded by the state and the holdup had been in the Department of Transportation. But the $1.3 million construction project would be starting soon, he said. “If it was up to us, we would have done it five years ago,” Mr. DeGroodt told the 14 residents who came to ask about the bridge at the meeting.

The board also discussed a resolution that asks the governor to look at advancing renewable energy in the state and keeping a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state. Board members Lull and Henry Swartz both questioned whether the town should make the fracking moratorium part of the resolution, which Board member Bob Balcom had brought to the board.

Mr. Swartz said he supported the state looking into renewable energy but he didn’t want to hurt local well diggers who use hydraulic fracturing to dig. He asked to defer voting on the resolution until he had more information. “We are not in that area,” he said of fracking in the state. “It has nothing to do with us.”

Ms. Lull said that she did not support the moratorium. “It sounds like politics to me,” she said of the resolution.

Mr. Balcom said that fracking may happen near the county and affect the town when companies are looking to store equipment and waste.

Mr. Rappleyea said the resolution mentions the moratorium but focuses on requesting that the state have a better energy policy.

The board took no action on the resolution.

The next meeting will be a public hearing on town’s 2014 budget is set for November 6 at 6 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

 

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