Valatie’s sidewalk flaws spark talk of new walk law

VALATIE–The Village Board discussed changing the village code on maintaining sidewalks and who is responsible for repairing them at their March 12 board meeting. According to Mayor Diane Argyle, the current code says the responsibility for the repairing sidewalks lies with the property owner but she also said that property owners don’t own the sidewalks; the sidewalks are owned by the municipality.

Jenn Kolb, who owns a business on Main Street and is a former village trustee, asked what the village plans to do about the sidewalk in front of her property. A section of the sidewalk has sunk and for several months has had safety cones around it so that pedestrians won’t trip. Ms. Kolb said she told the village about the sunken sidewalk in the fall.

She also said that because of the sidewalk, water has been leaking into her basement and the basement wall has deteriorated from the water damage.

Mayor Argyle said that she and the village engineer had visited Ms. Kolb’s property. As for the issues with her building, Mayor Argyle said the village attorney would contact Ms. Kolb. At the meeting, Ms. Kolb told the board that she was frustrated with the village, since officials did not deal with the sidewalk earlier and now, “my foundation is at stake.”

Mayor Argyle said it took time to get the report on the property from the village engineer and that she had “called the state and asked them what’s going on.” Main Street in the village is a state route as is Route 9/Kinderhook Street. The state handles the maintenance of those roads. The mayor said the issue with Ms. Kolb’s building is now with the insurance company the village uses and the village attorney.

As for the sidewalk, though the code talks about the property owners maintaining the sidewalk in front of their homes or businesses, Ms. Kolb said, “The sidewalk is not my property.”

Section 101-1 of the village codes reads, “All residential, commercial and industrial premises within the Village of Valatie, whether improved or vacant, shall be maintained in conformity with the provisions of this chapter so as to assure the desirable character of the property.”

Another sections of the code says, “Steps, walks, driveways, parking spaces and similar paved areas shall be maintained so as to afford safe passage under normal use and weather conditions. Any holes or other hazards that may exist shall be filled and necessary repairs or replacement carried out.”

Several board members said the wording needed to be clarified. Mayor Argyle said that the code needed to make it clear what the village was responsible for.

“There is a lot of issue with the code,” said Trustee Frank Bevens.

“We want to start from scratch now,” Mayor Argyle said, referring to the code.

There are sidewalks in the village that need repairs and in other parts of the village, residents have replaced sidewalks with asphalt instead of cement. The mayor said that in other municipalities in the county residents must replace their own sidewalks if the walks do not allow safe passage. But there is no standard in the Valatie code as to how the sidewalks should be replaced or with what materials.

Mayor Argyle said that in the Village of Kinderhook, the municipality replaces sidewalks.

“I agree that this is a lousy code and we’ll discuss it,” she said.

Changes in the zoning code would require a public hearing. A new law would need to be drafted and reviewed the by the village attorney.

Also at the meeting:

• The board received a Certificate of Appreciation and a commemorative coin from American Legion Post # 47. Tom Burrall, the commander of Post 47, presented the mayor with the certificate and coin thanking the village for the support of the post over the years. This year is the 100th anniversary of the American Legion and of the Valatie post

• The villages of Kinderhook and Valatie received a joint grant from the state to do a study on recreational use of the Kinderhook Creek. Part of the project includes two public workshops. The first workshop, which was held on March 27 at the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building, was organized by the engineering firm Barton & Loguidice and featured presentations of the firm’s in-progress survey of the creek. There was also group discussion about the recreational uses at the creek in three main areas: Pachaquack and River Street parks and a section Route 9 between the two villages. The second public workshop will be held in Kinderhook on April 11 at 7 p.m. in Van Buren Hall, on 6 Chatham Street. The public is encouraged to attend.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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