Hillsdale can’t find a place in the sun

(This is an edited summary from Town Supervisor Peter Cipkowski of business at the regular August meeting of the Hillsdale Town Board.)

HILLSDALE—Highway Department issues dominated the August 13 meeting. Supervisor Peter Cipkowski suggested that a committee, consisting of Highway Superintendent Richard Briggs and Climate Smart Committee Chair and Councilmember Tom Carty, review a request from Hillsdale businessman Steve Bluestein to lease town garage property for installation of solar panels on a 17.5-acre parcel on Old Town Road. The panels would support Mr. Bluestein’s Roe Jan Brewery, scheduled to open later this year.

At a previous town meeting, Mr. Bluestein asked about the feasibility of using extra land at the town’s wastewater treatment plant for the solar panels. But that was denied due to town plans to expand the wastewater treatment plant in the near future. Mr. Bluestein’s effort to run his business on solar energy is hampered by the building’s designation as an historical edifice, which makes solar panels incongruous.

Also, the building is located on a “postage stamp size” lot and cannot accommodate the panels. Read more…

ICC mulls what to do with vacant board seat

KINDERHOOK–Ichabod Crane school board member Dan Cohn announced at the August 20 meeting that he was resigning from the board at the conclusion of the meeting. His term will not end until June 2020, so the board discussed whether to appoint a new board member for the next 10 months or function with eight members.

The board could also decide to hold a special election to fill the seat.

Mr. Cohn said because of the demands of his job he could not find the time to attend all the extra meetings needed as the board searches for a new superintendent and starts a major capital improvement project in the district. Read more…

Poll law changes, but is it better?

CRARYVILLE—The Taconic Hills Board of Education has changed the way district residents register to vote in annual budget votes and other school district elections, but what, exactly, that means is not yet clear.

At the June 19 Board of Education meeting the board adopted, by a six-to-one vote (two members absent), a resolution stating that the district will switch to a system of poll registration and “will no longer provide for personal registration of voters” for school district votes.

Initial indications that something was up with voter registration in this school district came prior to the May 21 budget vote this year, when residents who were registered to vote were denied absentee ballots for the election because district officials deemed they had not produced adequate proof of residency. Read more…

Valatie law would put brakes on sidewalk bike riders

VALATIE–The Village Board reviewed a proposed law last week to regulate the use of bicycles and wheeled devices, like skate boards and roller blades, on Main Street.

Village Attorney Rob Fitzsimmons said at the August 13 meeting that he looked at the laws other municipalities have to keep bike riders off the sidewalks. There is no state law about riding bikes on sidewalks; the state leaves the regulation of bike riding on sidewalks to individual municipalities.

At the last few Village Board meetings, Randall Schmitt, a Main Street resident and president of VERA (Valatie Economic Redevelopment Association) has talked about bicyclists riding down the street. At an earlier meeting Mr. Schmitt said he was hit by one rider. At a meeting in July, Lisa Hill, a business owner on Main Street, was quoted in the minutes saying that bike riders on Main Street are “a huge problem.” Both Mr. Schmitt and Ms. Hill said they had called sheriff’s deputies about this issue, mostly about kids riding bikes. Read more…

Veterans’ Services moves to G’port with help of private fund

HUDSON–The Columbia County Veterans’ Services Department is hoping to move its administrative offices in September from the center of Hudson to Fairview Avenue in Greenport, where it already is preparing a day room for veterans and their families.

The department’s executive director, Gary Flaherty, recounted August 16 that events leading up to the move began last year, when the department received a grant from the PFC Dwyer Fund, which helps people transition from military to civilian life. Columbia County’s share of the fund has included a $100,000 lump sum to start programs plus on-going quarterly booster grants, which for 2019-20 will be $25,000 each quarter.

With this award, the Veterans’ Services Department rented space at 389 Fairview Avenue, between the new Shoprite and the Walmart-Lowes complex, (on the west–Shoprite–side), for a recreation room, where veterans and their families can unwind. The military calls such spaces “day rooms.” Since signing the contract for it about two months ago, the Department has been preparing it. Mr. Flaherty said he found a pool table, which is “something impossible to get anymore,” and plans to buy it for the room. Read more…