Philmont board tackles flurry of snow issues

PHILMONT—Snow was the main topic of discussion at the Monday, February 9 meeting of the Village Board. “Everybody’s feeling the pain of the snow,” said Police Chief Vernon Doyle.

“We try to be respectful with regard to ticketing,” said Chief Doyle, referring to summonses given to business and property owners who have failed to shovel their sidewalks. Subsequent enforcement—or lack of it—of the tickets has been an issue of contention in the past. After snowstorms, property owners have 24 hours to shovel their sidewalks. “It hasn’t stopped snowing long enough to give people 24 hours,” said the chief.

Resident Edward Alexander noted that the “village sets the guidelines” for how roads should be plowed, but trucks from the state often disregard these established plow lines, throwing snow onto sidewalks that have already been shoveled. Mr. Alexander and his neighbor, Michael Simmons, also read a complaint against one Department of Public Works employee who, they claim, directed plowed snow onto their yards and their already-shoveled driveways. Recounting his presentation of the complaint later, Mr. Alexander said that the board planned to rectify the situation.

During the public comment segment, Philmont Fire Company member Brian Ostrander—the son of Trustee Larry Ostrander—asked who was responsible for keeping the “over 100 fire hydrants” in Philmont clear.

Town Attorney Ken Fitzsimmons said, “If it’s on your property, it’s your responsibility.”

Mr. Ostrander the younger said that he had been clearing hydrants on his own time to the extent he was able. But he said that the conditions while he cleared these fire hydrants were dangerous, and he wondered if he would be covered by the Fire Department’s insurance, should he be injured while doing this work. Mr. Fitzsimmons said that he would be covered, just as he would be while fulfilling any Fire Department directive. The younger Mr. Ostrander also asked if the board would consider installing markers on the hydrants so that they could be found more easily when they are buried under snow.

Another issue raised was whether tenants or landlords are responsible for clearing the snow around fire hydrants on their properties. Mr. Doyle said, “At the end of the day, even if you’re a renter, if it’s your property and your life at risk, you’d think somebody would want to clear it.”

But several members of the audience said that they knew of instances where tenants refused, claiming that it was not their responsibility. The question was not settled conclusively.

Chief Doyle said that the Sheriff’s Office has put out a notice that inmates will be working specifically on clearing fire hydrants of snow. At one point, Trustee Brian Johnson asked, “Are we done with the snow?” The question drew a hearty “Yes” from the audience.

In other business this week:

  • The Ostranders, elder and younger, brought up the fact that 16 members of the Philmont Fire Company have attempted to sign up for an Emergency Responders Class at the Churchtown Firehouse, but “Columbia County refuses to sponsor” these firefighters. “For the life of me, I cannot understand why the county will not sponsor” the attendance of Philmont firefighters at the class, said the elder Mr. Ostrander. “We need those response times”
  • Village Trustee Ostrander said there will be a community input session February 24 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the library. It is an open house where residents can suggest uses for grant money for the Summit Reservoir project. Representative from the engineering firm working on the plan will be present
  • Trustee Douglas Cropper said that there will be a meeting about the Pine Haven Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility February 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the County Office Building, 401 State Street, Hudson. “This may be people’s last chance to have a say on the Pine Haven situation,” said Mr. Cropper. THe county is planning to sell that facility to a private entity.
  • The board adopted a bond resolution authorizing the acquisition of the new fire truck, which is valued at $449,502.

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