HILLSDALE–Town Supervisor Art Baer presided over his 156th and final board meeting Tuesday, December 15. The first business report was a presentation by Christopher Cornwall and Lou Bach, representatives from the engineering consulting firm of Greenman-Pedersen Inc. (GPI) updating the sidewalks and sewer plans.
Cornwall and Bach offered that amenities like benches and landscaping could be added to the sidewalks project. They are soliciting feedback from the board and public regarding design and layout options, which the town will make available on its website. Options include three brick patterns and up to four low-growth shrubs species that are resistant to salt and are tolerant of Hillsdale soil in the impacted area from White Hill Lane to Route 22. A pedestrian crossing signal will be added at Route 22.
Bach described the sidewalk surface as “exposed aggregate,” which looks like rock. The bricks will replace the existing grass strips that serve as a buffer between the sidewalk and road. Bricks will replace the grass strips only on the north side of Route 23.
Monument Park can have up to four benches and Veterans Park could also get benches and landscaping. All amenities are limited to the state’s public right-of-way. The board anticipates that a decision on the design and layout can be approved at the January 9, 2016 meeting.
Mr. Baer announced that new lighting cannot be added to the sidewalks project at this time because a grant for it was not approved by the state. However a conduit and pole boxes will be constructed so that new lights can be added in the future.
Regarding the storm water drainage project, Cornwall confirmed that the state Department of Transportation is underwriting the full cost of replacing 11 metal frames and added that if there is damage, like the frames collapsing during DOT’s work, then the state will replace the entire system.
The proposed schedule for both projects is March–May for the sewer work followed by the sidewalks, with a projected completion date by Labor Day. Mr. Baer said he does not anticipate any street closures due to the work.
At the public comment portion of the meeting, town Supervisor-elect Peter Cipkowski expressed gratitude to Mr. Baer for his “common sense, pragmatic” legislation and “comprehensive” thinking. He cited the sidewalks-sewer projects and the revenue producing 300-acre Roeliff Jansen Park as examples.
Mr. Baer described his 12 years’ service as “very challenging and rewarding” and described the various problems he addressed as town supervisor from something as simple as a resident calling to have a dead raccoon removed from the driveway to the tragedy of a fatal accident involving a town vehicle and the difficulty of exercising eminent domain for the greater good.
The outgoing supervisor recalled that he and fellow public servant, Town Board member August Sena, celebrated with beers the passing of the sidewalks funding referendum. In his comments Mr. Sena echoed Mr. Baer’s comments saying, “It’s been worthwhile. But it’s time to step down.”
In other business the board approved the appointment of Barbara Barrantes to the Zoning Board of Appeals. She is an 11-year Hillsdale resident and retired attorney with 35 years experience in financial regulatory law. Ms. Barrantes has worked for the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and is a graduate of New York University Law School. She replaces Howard Van Lenten.