Valatie ponders dusting off its courtroom gavel

VALATIE–The Village Board discussed reinstating the village court at the regular meeting Tuesday night. Mayor Diane Argyle brought up the issue in the context of parking complaints. She said the village would have a better way to deal with parking tickets if it had its own court again.

The village dissolved the court in 2010. At the time, the then Mayor Gary Strevell said it would save the village $20,000 a year in salaries and expenses. Parking tickets and other violations in the village are now handled by Kinderhook Town Court.

Board member Dave Williams said at the February 10 meeting that having a village judge in the village rule on zoning issues would also be helpful. Having a court, Mr. Williams said, “would give us some leverage.”

But Village Attorney Rob Fitzsimmons said that prosecuting zoning issues in the village court might not cover the costs of having the court. “You are never going to break even on that,” he said.

Mayor Argyle asked Mr. Fitzsimmons about putting a referendum on the March ballot asking village residents whether or not they want the court back. But board member Angelo Nero said that the board needed more information before it could hold a referendum on reestablishing a court. He stressed the board needed to know costs of setting up and maintaining the court.

The board will deal with one parking issue in the coming months. Mr. Fitzsimmons is drafting a local law to authorize no-parking on Main Street on either side of the intersection with Church Street. In all, about three parking spots would be eliminated on the north side of Main Street. The board will review the proposed law at the next meeting and hold a public hearing in April. The board hopes the signs will improve sight lines at the intersection.

Tuesday’s meeting also saw the board once again discuss the parking lot on Main Street next to what was the American Legion Hall. The parking lot is owned by the village, which put it out to bid in the fall. Gunther Fishgold, the owner of the Tierra Farms and the Valatie Bar and Grille, submitted a bid but the board tabled the sale and decided instead to hold a public hearing on the fate of the lot. At Tuesday’s meeting Mr. Fishgold said there was a parking issue on Main Street and that he would be willing to lease the parking lot from the village. He said he would upgrade the lot and allow public parking there. Mr. Fishgold’s company bought the American Legion Hall and plans to turn it into a clothing store.

Mr. Fitzsimmons said he would look into the possibility of Mr. Fishgold leasing the parking lot.

Tierra Farms is also planning to organize a farmers market in the village. The board discussed locations and times with Mr. Fishgold and James Manning, who is organizing the market for the company. No time or date was set.

Also at the meeting:

  • The board tabled a decision on whether to accept a motion from the Ichabod Crane school board allowing the village to keep a portrait of Martin H. Glynn. The school district loaned the portrait to the village to hang in the municipal building. Mayor Argyle said that there is no proof the school district owns the painting and the village is researching the history of the portrait, which has a note on the frame saying it was dedicated to the building when it was a school
  • The board passed a motion to sign a non-binding letter of intent enter a contract with Viridian Energy. The village engineer suggested the board put out a request for proposals for energy companies to bid on a contract with the village for municipal electrical service. Board member Dave Williams stressed that signing the letter of intent did not lock the village into accepting the Viridian proposal and that the board could look at proposals from other companies
  • The board discussed meeting with the town about the use of the Martin H. Glynn Municipal building, which is open to community groups that apply to use classrooms and the gym. “I think it’s gotten a little bit out of hand,” said board member Frank Bevens of number of groups that use the building. The Kinderhook Town Board added hours to the part-time maintenance person to make sure doors are locked after people leave the building. Mayor Argyle said the village was not notified about the increase in hours even though the two boards share the building.

The next Village Board meeting will be Tuesday, March 10 at 7 p.m. at the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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