Troopers move a step closer to Chatham barracks

CHATHAM–At their meeting last week the Town Board entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the state police so that the troopers can start surveying land next to the Town Hall on Route 295 for a new barracks.

Captain Michael Jankowiak of Troop K and a state police representative from Albany came to the Town Board meeting last month to ask for three acres of town-owned land to build a barracks that would cover all of Northern Columbia County. According to Captain Jankowiak, the troopers would close their barracks in New Lebanon and make a new Chatham barracks their “home.”

At the May 17 meeting Town Attorney Sal Ferlazzo said signing the MOU did not mean that town had agreed to give the troopers the land. “It’s not a hard contract,” he said, but he did say “it’s a step in the right direction.” The troopers are asking the town to donate the land. The state would cover any legal and filing fees associated with the handover of the property. In the MOU the state asks the town for “full and free access” to survey the property within no less than 120 days. Mr. Ferlazzo said he thought they would start the process sooner.

The board agreed to the MOU but did not discuss donating the land.

Also at the meeting, the board passed a motion authorizing an agreement with Stonykill Disc Golf Club, which would keep open the disc golf course on town land in exchange for proof of insurance and waivers from volunteers holding the town harmless if something happens at the site. The newly formed Stonykill Disc Golf Club will maintain the property, something volunteers were already doing although not as a formal group.

Mr. Ferlazzo said that he and the group had worked out several issues the board had with people using the land without any formal agreement. The board had drafted a motion to vote on in April to close the disc golf course located behind Town Hall. The board wanted the residents who used the site to sign an agreement like the one they have with other organizations that use town property.

Mr. Ferlazzo said that since the meeting last month, the Stonykill Disc Golf Club was formed with Eugene Gierka as president. “We have an entity to go to when we have an issue,” he told the board of the club.

He also told the board that there is now “consensus and happiness on the disc golf course.”

The club will continue to mow the course and maintain the equipment shed at the site. The sport involves throwing flying discs or Frisbees at metal baskets around a course.

The board also passed a motion updating and expanding town rules and regulations for Crellin Community Park, Stonykill Disc Golf Course and all town facilities.

“Prior to this we only had a page and half for Crellin Park,” said town Supervisor Maria Lull of the rules. She said this new set of rules and regulations were considerably expanded.

Also at the meeting:

• The board established a Fund Balance Policy created by the town’s Citizen’s Finance and Planning Committee. “This Fund Balance Policy is to guide the Town Board in funding adequate reserves to provide the capacity to: ensure sufficient cash flow for daily financial requirements; guard against significant economic downturns; protect against unforeseen expenditures related to emergencies; maintain investment grade bond ratings; and, provide a framework to help guide budgetary decisions,” the motion reads. Councilman Bob Balcom, a member of the committee, said this was recommended by the state and that other municipalities are working on policies like this one. He said Chatham was the first in the county to pass a Fund Balance Policy. “We’re even ahead of Columbia County,” he said

• The board signed an agreement with state Department of Transportation to cover the cost of the traffic light for the Albany Turnpike Bridge in East Chatham. Councilman John Wapner raised concerns about the agreement, saying his issue was “about the accounting of this and what we get back.”

The agreement says the town will spend money that will be reimbursed. Ms. Lull said that the project needed to go forward but the town was “putting our necks out.” Mr. Balcom said of the accounting and reimbursement from the state on the project, “The answer is you hire a really good accounting firm and they keep track of it”

• The board will host a special meeting June 6 at 6 p.m. at the Tri-Village Fire Company for a public information presentation by Town Planner Nan Stolzenburg on the town’s updated zoning law.

The next board meeting is June 21 at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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