In Chatham, the plan for lift is going down

CHATHAM—The Chatham Town Board has tabled signing a lease with the Village of Chatham for renting space in the Tracy Memorial Village Hall for the town court. The proposed lease is for one year, starting August 1, for a monthly rent of $1,650.

At the Town Board meeting Thursday, July 16, held online, board members were concerned about signing a lease for a space that is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The courtroom the town has leased for years on the second floor of the village hall has no elevator or lift. Town Supervisor Donal Collins said he and Councilman Vance Pitkin spoke with Village Mayor John Howe and were told that the Village Board did not want to install a lift in the historic building.

Councilwoman Abi Mesick asked about any language in the lease in case the town needed to break it. “We really need to figure out a way for this court to have an ADA compliant home,” she told the board.

The second floor courtroom at the Tracy Memorial Village Hall in Chatham, above, is an impressive room, but not for people with a disability that prevents them from climbing the long stairway that leads there. Parry Teasdale file photo

Councilman John Wapner asked about Covid-19 safety precautions in the Tracy Memorial building, which is owned by the village. Councilman Pitkin said the state court system has issued a plan for local courts to follow. “They’re pretty proactive,” he said.

Supervisor Collins said he would go back to the village with the board’s concerns.

At the Village Board meeting Monday, July 13, Mayor Howe said that town Judge James Borgia-Forster, who is also the village judge, had asked about a temporary lift in the building. Mayor Howe said the judge felt there would grant money for a lift. He also said the village had been discussing the issue for a long time before he joined the board.

The mayor said there were plans to upgrade the Tracy Memorial that dealt with ADA compliance. He also said there is state grant money the village had received for those upgrades. But that money, he warned, could be held up due to the pandemic.

The Village Board discussed whether a temporary lift would be ADA compliant, to which Mayor Howe said, “We were pretty sure it wasn’t.” Trustees talked about the possibility that a temporary lift would have to be removed if the village moves forward with other renovations.

Mr. Pitkin, who attended the online village meeting, said that it was no secret the town is looking for a new home for the court.

Mayor Howe said that he would meet with the town again to put to rest this issue of a temporary lift.

Also at the Town Board meeting:

• The Town Board signed a contract with the Chatham Reds, a not-for profit-group that operates a traveling baseball program for kids 7 to 14. The group will use the baseball field at Crellin Park

• Councilman Pitkin discussed the board fund a mailing about the broadband survey. About 75 people have taken the survey online asking about internet service in the town. He also said state Senator Daphne Jordan (R-43rd) has offered to help send an email about the survey and write a letter on the town’s behalf

• The board reviewed a proposal from PS21, the performance space next to Crellin Park, to use land in the park that is a planned trail between the two properties for an outdoor music event. Councilman Kevin Weldon said that the event was supposed to be part of the town sponsored Park Day, which was canceled due to the pandemic. Supervisor Collins thanked PS21 for the organization’s “continuing generosity” in letting the town host a Planning Board meeting at the outdoor performance space July 14

• Councilman Weldon reported on a request from EV WATTS to collect data on the use of the electric car charging station the town insulted in the municipal parking lot next to the Tracy Memorial. He said having the data could be helpful to other municipalities that are thinking of putting in a charging station.

The next board meeting on August 6 will include a report on the town finances, according to Supervisor Collins. The board also plans to host a public hearing on proposed regulations of short-term rentals. Supervisor Collins said that if there are no major changes to the regulations the board “would be voting after the public hearing” on the proposed local law.

The August 6 meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. Information on how to attend the online meeting will be on the town’s website, www.chathamnewyork.us

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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