Valatie eyes selling cell phone tower cash cow

VALATIE–The Village Board once again discussed selling the leases to cell phone towers in the village at the October 18 meeting. Mayor Diane Argyle wants to sell the leases for a one-time payment to cover several roadwork and construction projects that need to be done. She thinks the village can get a payment of $600,000 for the towers.

Some of the members of the board worry that losing the $50,000-a-year in rent on the towers would leave a hole in the village budget that would be a problem in years to come.

Mayor Argyle warned her board that the Town of Kinderhook plans to increase the cost of providing Highway Department services by $70,000. The village dissolved its Highway Department several years ago and contracts with the town for that work. The current contract is for $84,000, according the Mayor Argyle, but Kinderhook Town Supervisor Pat Grattan has told her that based on mileage, the cost going forward will be $150,000. The current two-year contract the village has with the town is up in May of next year.

The mayor mentioned the increase for Highway Department services along with work that needs to be done on Upper Main Street and other roads in the village, and said that the fire company is talking about a needing a new fire truck. “We’re short of cash,” she said.

She also stressed that the village needs to get out of the “endless cycle” of taking out loans to pay for projects. She said that by 2024 some of the village’s major loans would be retired.

Trustee Frank Bevens said that he was not confident money from the cell towers would remain in the budget until the loans are paid off in eight years. And he said without the rent from the cell towers “you are in a bigger hole.”

Trustee Angelo Nero agreed. Trustees Phil Bickerton and Dave Williams suggested looking at bids to see how much money the village could get for the tower leases.

The board tabled further discussion for next month’s meeting.

Board members also discussed approving applications that request permission to use space in the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building, which the town and village jointly own and use for their offices. Earlier this fall, Supervisor Grattan created a committee to review applications from organizations that want to use the buildings before both boards are asked to approve the uses.

There was some discussion at Town Board meetings about coming up with rules for the use of the gym and the open classrooms in the former school building.

Lisa Willson, who owns a for-profit preschool, applied to use the building for events throughout the school year. The Town Board approved her application for her Thanksgiving and Christmas events but said they needed to review their policy for any 2017 events.

Ms. Willson said that as a resident of the village she wanted to see the building used more. “Our kids need a place to go,” she said, pointing out that gym is not used during the day. She also said, “The people who live here pay for this building.” She asked that the building committee meetings be open to the public and that a member of the community should be on the committee.

Also at the meeting:

• The mayor announced that starting November 1 there is no parking on Main Street from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.

• Mayor Argyle also said that the street next to the Valatie Community Theatre, off of Main Street, will be open to one-way traffic soon

• The board approved paying for masonry work on the stone walls in the community parking lot on Main Street and along Church Street for about $1,500.

The next Village Board meeting will be Tuesday, November 15 at 7 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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