Road repairs top Hillsdale Town Board agenda

HILLSDALE–The northbound lane State Route 22 just south of County Route 7D has been temporarily closed while the state Department of Transportation is repairing two bridges in the area. Traffic is reduced to one lane with a temporary light at either end. The work site was one of the topics discussed at the Town Board meeting August 9.

Contacted after the meeting DOT Regional Office Spokesperson Gina DiSarro said the project on a bridge over the Roeliff Jansen Kill is expected to be finished by this November, when traffic will return to normal.

Highway repairs have also led to the complete shutdown in Hillsdale of County Route 21 a quarter-mile mile from its intersection with Route 22. Traffic is being directed to a detour of approximately 15 miles through Spencertown.

Also on the meeting agenda was a report from Harlem Valley Rail Trail Chairman Dick Hermans, who said that the organization has received three bids for work on the 1.54-mile section connecting Anthony Street extension to Black Grocery Road. The project budget is $750,000, half of which was raised through “tremendous community support.”

Ultimately the group hopes to raise enough money to fund a project connecting Orphan Farm Road to Black Grocery Road via a tunnel under Route 22. “When all is complete people can bicycle to Hillsdale without using Route 22,” Mr. Hermans said. He estimated that project would cost $3 million, adding that trails now cost “almost a million dollars per mile.”

The town Highway Department will be “oil and stoning” several roads, August 22 -26, including Mitchell Street, Fern Hill, Meadow Lane, Tribrook, portions of Harlemville Road to the Taconic Parkway and one mile from Wolf Hill, along with County 21 to Tenbrock Lane. Highway Supervisor Richard Briggs said that residents along those roads are “looking forward” to the upgrade from dirt to pavement.

In other business at the meeting:

• Tom Carty reported that the Housing Committee would seek a $3,500 grant from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation to underwrite information workshops that explain affordable, workforce and senior housing concepts and to update a 2010 report on available rental properties in Hillsdale. Grants will be awarded in September

• Town Supervisor Peter Cipkowski announced that the Sidewalks Project has stalled, with work not likely to begin before Spring 2017, because the DOT has discovered that damage to drain pipes along Route 23 is more extensive than originally budgeted. On a positive note Mr. Cipkowski announced that Governor Andrew Cuomo is “fully on board” with Broadband For All and that Columbia County is one of six targeted areas to receive universal access to broadband service by 2017

• Board members and the public engaged in a lively discussion about signs at the Veterans Memorial and Cullen Square, which some consider “sacred space,” Mr. Cipkowski said. Consensus supported no signage at Veterans Memorial. But there was a range of opinion regarding Cullen Square on whether to allow signs for town approved events and non-profit organizations or, if signs are banned at Cullen Square, too, whether to offer the Town Hall grounds as a substitute

• The meeting also saw a discussion about the challenge of attracting new recruits for volunteer fire departments after Supervisor Cipkowski reported on a recent meeting with area town supervisors, mayors and fire chiefs. He noted that in the past volunteer firefighting was something passed on “from father to son.” Two problem areas identified were the demands of training, two nights a week for three and one-half months, and the increase in non-fire service calls, which include lifting people off floors and putting them in ambulances. The lack of interest has not impacted Hillsdale

• Town Clerk Kathi Doolan said that notices went out last week to Hillsdale dog owners advising them that it’s time to renew dog licenses.

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