Chatham board balks at consultant’s fee

CHATHAM—The Town Board has voted 3 to 2 against hiring a planner to work on the update of the town’s Comprehensive Plan for “an amount not to exceed $42,000.” At the online meeting Thursday, March 18 the board discussed working with the planner on an hourly rate instead.

Also at the meeting Town Supervisor Donal Collins reported that the town could see about $419,000 in funds from the federal American Rescue Plan. He said he had been to round table meetings with Congressman Antonio Delgado (D-19th) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D) about the funds. Mr. Collins said that the town and Village of Chatham would be getting some relief and it is “fantastic” news. He is waiting on more information on how the funds can be used.

And Supervisor Collins also announced that Town Assessor Daniel Horst is resigning in July. In his letter of resignation Mr. Horst said he was taking an assessor position in the Town of Kinderhook. He said in his letter that over the years he has been asked to run for Town Board by residents but he could not as assessor. He wrote that taking the new position means he can “run for office in Chatham.” The board said they will be looking for a replacement that Mr. Horst can train before he leaves.

In another matter, the board had a discussion about a bill for the park plan from Barton and Loguidice, an engineering firm the town works with. The cost of the company’s work on the Parks and Recreation Master Plan Update had increased from the original amount of $7,500 to $11,000, according to Councilman Kevin Weldon, and the company was asking for a payment on one last piece of the work for $722.

But Mr. Weldon said he was told the firm would do this final piece of work at no cost and an email reply to Mr. Weldon’s concern over the bill said that it was up to the board to pay what they wanted. The board approved paying them half of the bill.

As for the planner, Councilwoman Abi Mesick, the co-chair of the Comprehensive Plan Update Review Committee, said early in the meeting that the committee had interviewed six candidates and they were presenting Michael Allen of Regrowth Planning to the board.

‘What price tag do you think is reasonable?’

Councilwoman Abi Mesick

Town of Chatham

Councilman Vance Pitkin voiced concerns, saying he wasn’t sure this would sit well with the taxpayers. Mr. Pitkin also asked how the board got to this point, saying he remembered discussing a survey about the Comprehensive Plan update the committee was working on but he didn’t remember talking about “scrapping the plan” and hiring a planner.

Ms. Mesick stressed the committee was not scrapping the current Comprehensive Plan, but she said that they would get a “superior product” working with Mr. Allen and that he plans to do the work in one year. Ms. Mesick also said that doing the plan was not cheap, pointing out that the town spent $60,000 on the 2009 Comprehensive Plan and it took 3 years.

She also mentioned several times that the board had paid for the park plan at a cost of $11,000, and that this Comprehensive Plan would include the whole town.

Board members asked about hiring the planner on an hourly basis and start with a survey. “We don’t know what we don’t know,” said Mr. Pitkin.

Councilman John Wapner agreed that he was concerned about the process that got the board to this point. Councilman Weldon said he thought it would be good to get a survey out about the Comprehensive Plan and then figure out if they need a planner. He said of working on the park plan, a committee did as much as they could do before they reached out to Barton and Loguidice to finish it.

After the board voted down the motion to hire Mr. Allen—with Mr. Pitkin, Mr. Wapner and Mr. Weldon voting against, and Ms. Mesick and Mr. Collins voting for—Ms. Mesick asked the board to look at the proposal and decide what they would move forward with. She asked,“What price tag do you think is reasonable?”

Mr. Wapner said he would be comfortable with a survey. He said that he wouldn’t discuss a budget until he knows what the task for the planner is.

At the end of the meeting Ms. Mesick said she was glad the board had gotten to a point that they could find a way to move forward.

Also at the meeting:

• Highway Supervisor Jeffrey Antalek said that the town is not paving dirt roads. He said he had heard the misinformation circulating in the town and that the town has no plans to do that work

• The board discussed proposals for LED lights in the town’s lighting districts. The proposal information is online with the meetings agenda. The districts they discussed are East Chatham, North Chatham and Kinderhook Lake

• The board reappointed Attorney Tal Rappleyea as town attorney after putting out a request for proposals and receiving only two responses

• Local Law #1 of 2021 was adopted. The law amends the zoning law “to transfer jurisdiction over and review of special use permits from Zoning Board of Appeals to the Planning Board.”

The next board meeting will be the workshop session Thursday, April 1 at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are held online. To find the link to attend the meeting go to

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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