Chatham car-chargers could plug town into more grants

CHATHAM–The Town Board has approved hiring PlugIn Stations Online to supply and install an Electric Vehicle Charging Station in the municipal parking lot on Main Street in the Village of Chatham.

At the March 15 board meeting Councilwoman Landra Haber explained that the state would reimburse 77% of the cost for the station, which is about $16,000. The rest of the project costs will be covered by a $2,500 intensive grant from NYSERDA (the state Energy Research and Development Authority) and in-kind services from the town Highway Department.

Ms. Haber said there is still some work to be done with the power company NYSEG about metering the electricity used to charge vehicles, but she hopes to have the charging station operating by spring.

The parking lot is jointly owned by the town and the village. The town has an agreement with the village to put the charging station there. The Town of Ghent is also moving forward with a plan to put a charging station at the other end of Main Street.

Putting in the charging station moves the Town of Chatham closer to becoming a Clean Energy Community, a four-step process set by the state that will lead to the town becoming eligible to apply for a $80,000 grant to upgrade the heating system in the Highway Department garage. Highway Superintendent Joe Rickert said that the current system “is on its way out.” The board has not yet applied for the grant.

The board is looking to receive funding from the state for a major project to install a traffic light on the Albany Turnpike Bridge in East Chatham. Supervisor Maria Lull said that she, Mr. Rickert and a representative from the town’s engineering firm went to the state Department of Transportation to plead their case about funding needed to make crossing at the bridge safer. “It’s looking good, folks,” Ms. Lull said of the prospects of $175,000 through a federal and state program for the work.

“They do like our project,” said Mr. Rickert of the plan to put two lights on the one-lane bridge to help with bad sightlines at the crossing.

He said that dealing with the state on funding would slow the progress of the project, but the town is “looking at still getting it done this year.”

The bridge runs over railroad tracks that are owned by CSX. The railroad company paid to have the bridge replaced in 2013. The Town Board has been working to fix the limited sightlines and other traffic issues on the bridge since the crossing was reopened. The state approved the traffic light plan earlier this winter and the board does have some funds through the office of state Senator Kathy Marchione (R-43rd) to do the project.

Mr. Rickert had several issues that he needed to discuss with the board at last Thursday’s meeting, including replacing four town pick-up trucks. He said that trucks would cost $65,000 each but that he might be able to sell the current trucks for about $20,000. He told the board he had “zero funds in equipment replacement,” but there would be an unused fund balance in the Highway Department budget that they could use. Supervisor Lull asked him for schedule to present to the board for replacing the trucks.

Mr. Ricket told the board that during one of the recent storms his crew worked 29 hours straight. He warned the board that there would be a lot clean-up this spring. He said the series of storms caused “a tremendous amount of damage.”

“My highway crew has done an amazing job,” he told the board.

Also at the meeting:

•The board discussed the zoning law update. The board will meet again with Town Planner Nan Stolzenburg Thursday, March 29 at 6 p.m. to review changes made by the committee reviewing the zoning

• The board set a date for a public hearing on the proposed Timbering Law for the town. The board agreed that a timbering law should be part of the new zoning law so, though they will hold the public hearing April 19 at 6 p.m., the board will not pass the law until they approve the new zoning law in a few months

• The town has received a Draft Maintenance Plan for the Hudson Greenway project called the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail (AHET). The construction of the trail will be paid for by the state, but municipalities along the trail are being asked to provide mowing and other general maintenance on their parts of the trail. The board talked about budgeting for the maintenance in the 2019 budget. “It’s an unfunded mandate,” Councilman John Wapner said of the maintenance costs.

Mr. Rickett said that though the trail is “a nice thing to see,” it was still a cost to the town. The Hudson Greenway, which is managing the trail plan, is hosting another open house and meeting about the AHET at the Ichabod Crane High School on Wednesday, March 28 starting at 5:30 p.m.

• Town Justice James Borgia-Forster told the board at the meeting that Village of Chatham Police Chief Peter Volkmann is planning to put two officers on duty during court night at the Tracy Memorial/Village Hall. The judge said that Chief Volkmann said there had been some incidents during court and that the building can get very crowded. “It’s going to have an effect on the budget for this year,” Judge Borgia-Forster said of paying for the second officer.

“I think we have to be proactive,” said Supervisor Lull. “We don’t have any choice, it’s the times we live in,” she said of having more police at court

• A representative from Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company met with Ms. Lull about work planned for April through June on the pipeline off of County Route 13. Ms. Lull had a letter for the company to landowners along the existing right-of-way of the gas pipeline. Jim Hartman, the right-of-way agent in the area, can answer questions about the work at 800-781-4152.

The next board meeting will be Thursday, April 19 at 6 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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