VALATIE–The Town Board held its annual organization meeting and swearing in of newly elected and reelected town officials this week. Several residents in the audience asked the board to create committees to deal with issues in the town, including speeding on Route 203, the opioid crisis and economic development.
County Court Judge Jonathan Nichols attended the January 8 meeting to swear in newly elected Councilwoman Sally Hogan as well as reelected Town Justice Lisa Mills, Highway Superintendent John Ruchel and Supervisor Pat Grattan, who said he is serving his ninth term. Patsy Leader, who was reelected to her seat on the board, was not at the meeting.
Mr. Grattan then honored former board member Paul Voltz for his four years of service. Mr. Voltz did not run for reelection last November. And Mr. Grattan gave a plaque to Peter Haemmerlein, who is resigning as chair of the town Planning Board, for his years of service on that board.
During the organization meeting, Mr. Grattan announced that there were openings on the Planning Board, the Zoning Board Appeals and Board of Assessment Review. He said that residents interested in serving on any of those boards should send a letter of interest to the Town Clerk.
There are also two openings on the Undeveloped Land Oversight Committee, a committee looking at how to use 15 acres off of Park Place. Mr. Grattan said members of that committee should be residents of the Park Place neighborhood.
There is one vacancy on the Trails Committee, which is made up of town residents and the mayors of the Villages of Kinderhook and Valatie. Mr. Grattan also said the Historic Kinderhook Committee is looking for new members.
The Town Board is also reviewing the terms of members of the Recreation Committee. Mr. Grattan said he would reach out to the chair of that committee to see if there is any record of how long the members have served.
The Town Board held its regular meeting right after the organizational meeting, where residents asked that more town committees be created.
Bernadette Powis sent a letter to the board, which her husband, William Mancini, read during the public comment section of the meeting, asking for the Town Board to create an opioid sub-committee. She said that the Hannaford supermarket in Valatie had recently announced that it will participate in the state Department of Environmental Conservation program to take back unused pharmaceuticals, and that Hannaford is working with the county’s Department of Health to install a syringe drop-box outside the store.
“While these initiatives are a good first steps, there is much more that needs to be accomplished to adequately tackle the opioid crisis in our town. Therefore, I urge that Town Board to take the next step and create a standing Opioid Crisis Sub-Committee composed of a diverse group of community residents to collectively widen engagement, track the extent of our local crisis, disseminate information regarding available local and regional resources, propose a set of locally based strategies to assist those residents with opioid addictions use, their families and the entire Kinderhook community,” Ms. Powis wrote in her letter. She also wrote that she would be happy to serve on the sub-committee.
The board did not comment on Ms. Powis’ letter, though Ms. Hogan, later in the meeting, repeated the information about the DEC pharmaceutical take-back program and syringe drop-box program at the supermarket.
Resident Ed Simonsen urged the board the create a committee to consider traffic safety on state Route 203. He said that in the two decades he has lived on the road there have been several accidents that caused property damage and some fatalities. He said that that state plans to pave the road soon, which he worried would make a “road that people can go even faster on.” In December a four-year-old was killed in a car accident on the road in Kinderhook.
Mr. Grattan said that the state Department of Transportation called him recently and asked to meet about the road. He said that he would post the time and date of the meeting on the town website. He also said that Valatie Village Mayor Diane Argyle would be at the meeting and that members of the public could attend.
“They don’t really support reducing speed limits. I can’t figure that out,” Mr. Grattan said. He said the board has requested speed reductions on Route 203 and other state routes in the town before and “they turned us down on everything.” The speed limit on state Route 9 was reduced from 55 mph to 50 mph last year at the north end of town.
Resident Matthew Nelson, a member of the Ichabod Crane School Board, asked Mr. Grattan to reach out to the school district’s transportation director about the time of the meeting.
Mr. Nelson also had a committee suggestion for the board. He asked the Town Board to create an Economic Development Committee. Mr. Nelson said the town was missing economic opportunities.
Also at the meeting, the board approved Local Law #1 of 2018 to make permanent a property tax exemption for Cold War veterans. The board held a public hearing before the organizational meeting. Members of the public expressed their support for law. Mr. Grattan that about 30 residents currently receive the exemption.
The next board meeting will be Monday, February 5 at 7 p.m. in the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email