State tells Hillsdale: On Route 22 faster is better

HILLSDALE–Supervisor Peter Cipkowski announced this week that the state Department of Transportation has rejected the town’s request for reduced speed limits on sections of state Route 22.

The town had requested that from Schutts Road to Old Town Road, near the firehouse, the speed limit on Route 22 be lowered from 55 to 45 mph and from Old Town Road to the Copake town line that it be lowered to 30 mph. A request for lower speeds on sections of county Route 21 from Hunt Road to state Route 22 to 35 mph and from Hunt Road to the hamlet of Harlemville to 45 mph is still pending before the county.

The supervisor reported on the speed limit requests at the monthly Town Board meeting Tuesday, May 9.

Another traffic safety issue was addressed during the public comment portion of the meeting regarding limited visibility for motorists accessing Route 22 from Whipoorwill Road due to the location of a house at the intersection. Supervisor Cipkowski said that a petition with 75 signatures from residents of Whipoorwill, Wolf Hill, Pumpkin Hill and Sir William Road requesting access modification has been forwarded to the DOT.

Jeff Paige, a regular at town meetings, challenged the board to consider buying the property and tearing down the house as a cheaper solution. He added that any road modification would still leave the house too close to the road and would pose a safety issue for the occupants. A vigorous back and forth among board members and Mr. Paige followed.

Mr. Cipkowski said that the Town Board “is not interested in tearing down a house occupied by a family.” He, also, suggested that the property owners could meet with him.

Board member Steve Tiger, while acknowledging that conversations about buying property may occur at committee level meetings, said the issue had never [reached the level] of a town board meeting.

The discussion ended when board member Carmen Barbato advised the board to “wait for the experts.”

In other town business at the meeting:

• The Climate Smart Committee was awarded $13,332 from Grants Gateway toward installation of two charging stations for electric cars in the Town Hall parking lot. Hillsdale will be the first town in Columbia County to offer the service and will be the only charging station between Hudson and Great Barrington. The town is contributing $3,250 toward the project

• Hillsdale has a new fire truck, a 2017 Rosenbauer tanker with a 3,000-gallon capacity and a 1,500 gpm pump. Fire Company President Joe Hanselman, Jr. said that the truck “gets water and dumps water without the driver leaving the truck.” The truck cost $358,352 and the old truck it replaces is for sale

• Sign-up for the town’s summer youth program is “quite slow compared to past years,” board member Jill Sims-Elster reported. The program hosts 60 youth. Ms. Sims-Elster speculated that cheaper programs offered in Copake and Ancram may be the reason. Also Hillsdale has not found a location for a swimming program. Its usual site at Taconic Hills School District in unavailable due to renovations

• Little League baseball returns to Hillsdale this summer. The renovated ball field is ready, save for team benches. Games are scheduled in May and June

• Supervisor Cipkowski shared a letter from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s broadband advisor, Jeffrey Nordhaus, in which he states that the “town is mistaken” regarding the extent of broadband coverage. In the letter Nordhaus states that 98% of Hillsdale households will be covered and that existing Fairpoint customers will have access to fiber optic cable connections

• The Housing Committee hosts two focus group meetings Saturday May 13 at 10 a.m. at the firehouse and Monday May 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Mount Washington House. There were 262 responses to the housing survey. $75 gift certificates will be raffled off at both meetings

• The Tax Assessor will be available to meet with Hillsdale property owners on Thursday May 18 from 4 – 8 p.m. and Saturday, May 20 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Grievance Day is Thursday May 25, 4 – 8 p.m. Appointments are not required

• Saturday May 20 is also Clean Up Day. Unwanted bulk items can be dropped off at the Town Garage on Old Town Road from 9 a.m. – noon. No items using Freon, i.e. refrigerators and air conditioners, tires, televisions or paint cans will be accepted

• The Flea Market is set for Saturday May 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with 43 vendors at Hamlet Park. Admission is free. David Gallagher will appraise antiques from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. There will also be raffle prizes of a 3-hour private session with Mr. Gallagher and a chair. The rain date is Sunday, May 28.

The next Town Board meeting is Tuesday June 13 at 7 p.m.

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