Chatham wants roof over kids

CHATHAM–Picking up where they left off at a workshop meeting early this month Chatham Town Board members last week continued to hash out plans to provide shelter and bathroom facilities for children who will attend the expanded recreation program this summer.

Last year the town had to demolish its crumbling Crellin Park beach pavilion, which provided shade and toilets for children in the summer recreation program. This year the program will not only have its regular contingent of youngsters from the town but also 140 kids from Kinderhook, so the need for facilities is more acute.

Town Recreation Director Shari Franks told the board at its monthly meeting Thursday, February 20, that she was still collecting information about options for replacing the pavilion and the cost of temporary, portable toilets. Questioned by the board about specifics, she said she didn’t know what additional information board members wanted.

Councilmen Henry Swartz Jr. and Bob Balcom said the board had already provided specifications for a building by the pond, and Mr. Balcom said the town could begin work this year by pouring the concrete slab that would be the foundation.

Board members told Ms. Franks the town has $120,000 set aside for a building at the park, where the town maintains the swimming pond and other recreation facilities. At the board’s workshop meeting two weeks earlier, when board members had brought up those reserve funds, Ms. Franks had said that the money was not adequate for a structure that complies with federal requirements.

“We’re only talking about a shell,” board member Maria Lull said at last week’s meeting. “Keep it pretty simple,” she advised Ms. Franks, saying the main concern was to provide a place for children to get out of direct sunlight.

Ms. Lull said the structure should be 60 x 100 feet.

One of the remaining questions is where to place the building. Ms. Franks said the town has appointed a Recreation Committee that could offer advice, but it has never met.

“Now is a good time” for a first meeting, said town Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt.

Ms. Lull, a member of the committee along with Ms. Franks and board member Jean Rohde, said the committee would schedule a meeting this week.

In other business last week the board:
•Adopted a resolution unanimously approving new federal and state “urban boundary areas,” which now include a section of state Route 203 in the town along the east side of Kinderhook Lake. Town Attorney Tal Rappelyea advised the board that the boundaries are redrawn every decade following the census. Inclusion within these urban boundaries allows municipalities to seek some federal funding, although no funds are currently appropriated for that purpose.
To become eligible when there is money, municipalities must vote now to approve the maps. Otherwise, the maps are redrawn and the municipalities are excluded. Other areas of the county, including a long stretch of Route 9, fall within the urban boundaries designation for the first time, Mr. Rappelyea said
•Heard from Supervisor DeGroodt that town roads are in “excellent shape” after the recent series of winter storms. Citing the report from town Highway Superintendent Joe Rickert, who was not at the meeting, Mr. DeGroodt said the town has an adequate supply of road salt.
Labor costs for plowing town roads have not exceeded anticipated overtime expenditures. “We’re spending budgeted money,” Mr. DeGroodt said
•Heard from Ms. Franks that the Recreation Department is hoping to expand its gardening program to start growing herbs inside at the Real Foods co-op and move them in the spring to the Community Garden at Crellin Park. The goal is to sell some of the herbs at the farmers market. The department has applied for a $3,600 grant to fund the project
•Learned that repairs to the White Mills Road bridge will take until July 11, 2014. Mr. DeGroodt said by that date work on the bridge should reach “substantial completion.” He said work would begin early in March depending on weather
•Heard Mr. Swartz report that the committee proposing revisions to the town zoning law has been working on regulations governing home occupations. He requested the latest real property tax maps. Mr. Balcom cautioned that the maps are out of date
•Received a report from Jeff Lick and Aven Kerr of the Citizens Finance Committee, which is developing spreadsheets, graphs and charts designed to make town budgets and finances clearer to the public. Ms. Lull praised the project so far. “It puts things in perspective,” she said
Ms. Kerr told the board, “The real audience for this is people who ask questions”
•Returned to a discussion of County Waste Management, a trash hauler. Customers have complained of  delays in garbage pickup and some residents are upset because their neighbors leave their trashcans by the side of the road. Ms. Lull said she had spoken to a member of state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s staff about the collection delays, some of which reportedly lasted two weeks. She encouraged residents to file written complaints with the Office of the Attorney General. She said a complaint form would be posted on the town website
Mr. Balcom said the board would need to adopt an ordinance if the town is to require removal of the cans from the roadside. Asked to prepare a draft ordinance, Mr. Rappelyea said he would check whether he had previously submitted one to the board.
Mr. DeGroodt said that removal of the cans was not the only options, suggesting that an enclosure for cans would work “fine.”
The next regular meeting of the Town Board is Thursday, March 20, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

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