GERMANTOWN—Supervisor Roy Brown (R) presided over his final Town Board meeting December 16, but he has not left public service.
Mr. Brown declined last year to run for another two-year term as supervisor, but on December 10 he stood for election for a six-year term as a commissioner of the Germantown Fire District. The vote in his favor was a resounding 83 to 10 for his opponent, Amy Corneau.
Mr. Brown joined the fire service in 1975 as a member of the Stuyvesant Falls Fire Company. In 2008 he joined the Germantown Fire Department, which elected him company vice president for 2013 and company president for 2014.
“Some people thought that being an commissioner and a company officer might be a conflict of interest,” said Mr. Brown, “but the Board of Commissioners looked into it and were told it would not be a conflict.” The Fire District is in charge of district elections, while the fire company elects its company officers and line officers.
The commissioners hold “just one meeting a month,” Mr. Brown noted, in contrast to the numerous meetings on the town and county level that require a supervisor’s presence.
At its December meeting, the Town Board approved the Highway Department’s spending up to $7,000 for the repair of a John Deere tractor. “It’s nothing we can fix, we definitely need the tractor and it doesn’t pay to put out for a new one,” said Highway Superintendent Richard Jennings before the unanimous vote.
Most of the meeting consisted of a PowerPoint presentation by Mr. Brown on the town’s accomplishments during his eight years as supervisor, followed by thanks from many to Mr. Brown and to Councilwoman Joan Snyder and town clerk Charlene Diehl, who had also declined to run again.
During the public comment period, Kay Abraham, chair of the Germantown Democratic Committee, began by thanking Ms. Snyder and Ms. Diehl for their service, “which has been longer than Roy’s and mine.” As for Mr. Brown, she noted that “the business of the town became the focus of the board and the supervisor” during his tenure. The tone of Town Board meetings, as set by Mr. Brown, became more open and more progressive, she said.
The new zoning law emerged, slowly but smoothly, from the “sturdy Comprehensive Plan,” she continued. Mr. Brown “worked with the Economic Development Committee, made good appointments, kept municipal taxes down and achieved a civil and cooperative and welcoming tone on the board.”
“It was a team effort,” said Mr. Brown.
As for the project to extend sidewalks in the hamlet, which was first funded before Mr. Brown was supervisor and for which planning continues eight years later, Ms. Abraham acknowledged, “You had hoped to have the sidewalks in, or at least started before you left office. I hope you’ll put your initials into the first square.”
Raymond (Randy) Staats, supervisor of the Town of Clermont, also attended to thank Mr. Brown for his eight years of service and for his assistance when to Mr. Staats was first elected six years ago.
The best part of being supervisor, Mr. Brown said after the meeting, was “watching the town progress during tight fiscal times. We were able to accomplish that and keep the tax levy low overall, by using various federal and state grants.”
And the worst part? “Politics,” he said firmly. “The political-ness of trying to do the right thing for everybody, and the way people from different parties viewed how decisions benefitted them, or not.”
In other business, the board:
•Agreed that Councilman Donald Westmore should research with Ellen Jouret-Epstein of the Columbia Land Conservancy the potential for the board to appoint a Conservation Advisory Council. Such councils are nonpartisan bodies that assist, advise and provide information to the Town Boards and the Planning Board, said Ms. Jouret-Epstein. It is not meant to add a required review that would impede decision-making.
The idea came up after resident interest in a December 7 town meeting at which representatives of the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Hudson River Estuary Program presented three studies requested by the Town Board. The studies, on habitat, water resources and climate, are available on the town’s website, germantown.org.
•Learned that Central House Hotel received the Business of the Year award at the December 12 open house held by 12526.biz, the town’s business association. Patricia Hinkein, of Patricia A. Hinkein Realty in Germantown, was given special thanks.
•Heard that the information kiosks have not been stolen or damaged by vandals but have been taken in for the winter. The Economic Development Committee will research ways to protect the kiosks from the elements by next winter.
•Confirmed the year-end meeting for December 30 and the annual reorganization meeting for Monday, January 6 at 7 p.m.
The full board and about 40 residents attended the meeting.