Sunday, July 15, 2007

New Blog

A bit late on this blog – the last few weeks have been verrrry engaging; but, now an update on Town affairs.

First, a commercial from our sponsors:

The Town of East Fishkill is looking for volunteers to serve on our Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Comprehensive Master Plan Review Board. Those interested should submit a resume’ to the Town Supervisor’s Office. For more information, please call 221-4303.

O.k., now to blog:

Town Engineer:
Our new Town Engineer, Scott Bryant, has been overseeing, coordinating, and developing projects from the Hamlet Wastewater Project to the state-mandated MS-4 Program to the Town Recreation Center, down to the sidewalk restoration project in front of St. Columba. Scott is also working to resolve several stormwater and flooding issues and working with our attorney to determine if there need to be additional guidelines and requirements in our planning process to ensure proper stormwater remediation. What I really like is that he is also looking forward to implement reviews and standards for future potential stormwater issues (instead of only accounting for present flows), looking at a town-wide water system, and the possible future expansion of one of our wastewater systems.

Brettview Water:
Speaking of water systems, I am very unhappy with the performance of our latest well-driller (we did appear to find an underground stream of water approximately at the 20 ft. depth – that will most likely prove seasonal). All of which is a moot point since the Dutchess County Dept. of Health has stated that they will not allow any further drilling for water at the Brettview site. That leaves us with only two options (the County Waterline is not an option because of the high cost of the water, $3 + per thousand gallons and the very difficult terms of the contract): purchase Rand Water – which is now supplying Brettview – and install the filters and have control over the operation, and / or develop a new water source not far outside the Brettview area. We are currently evaluating both possibilities to bring to the public for their consideration.

Presidential Way Water:
A gentleman recently e-mailed me and asked why Presidential Way could not get water from the Wappinger well fields behind them? Wow, what an excellent idea! Although the initial plan was to get water from Brettview – this was an option that I had not considered. I have e-mailed Wappinger Supervisor Joseph Ruggerio regarding system capacity and such and I will have our engineer contact Wappinger’s engineer next week regarding this possibility. We always welcome suggestions from the public.

Rt. 376 / Lake Walton Rd. / Robinson Ln. turning lanes:
Shortly after taking office I made an application to D.O.T. to install turning lanes at this very difficult intersection. After hearing nothing from them for several months I contacted Assemblyman Molinaro’s office regarding that application. I soon received a call from the acting director of D.O.T. Region 8 and was told that they (D.O.T.) would do the entire project and it was going to be put on the “front burner.” I recently attended a meeting and found that the “front burner” means a starting date of the year 2010 – boy, I am glad it is not on the “back burner.” Sometimes we all get frustrated with the pace of government.

Philips Road:
The new section of Philips Road is now open for public use. It has always been our intent at some future date to open both roads to allow more options to access Beekman Rd. In fact, the county recently verbally notified us that they would be opening the new intersection on Beekman Rd. by St. Denis Church, thus forcing us to open our intersection at the old / new Philips Rd. In a letter that I then faxed to the county’s lead engineer of the project, we agreed to open that portion of the road with the understanding that the Town of East Fishkill recognizes that the old Philips Road is, and will remain, the main road and thoroughfare for our residents to traverse.

Hillside Lake:
I have sent out letters to several companies that perform design and oversight for projects such as the Hillside Lake remediation project. The original proposal was for a full dredge operation (then estimated at $3 million dollars – likely much higher now) of the twenty-six acre lake. ‘ problem is that with hundreds of houses around the lake it is difficult to remove that much material without impacting the residents for some time (one gentleman from DEC estimated one truck leaving the site every five minutes, everyday, for a full year). We are now considering recontouring / reconfiguring the lake and possibly building islands as another option. We will be bringing both of these options to the Hillside Lake property owners for their consideration.

Grant Writer:
Our new grant writer, Michael Hagerty, has made one grant application for trees and is working on another for funding the sidewalk restoration project. One proposal that Michael told me about that is really exciting is funding for hamlet / village planning in which we would receive funding to hire a planner to perform a study and make recommendations to make our Hopewell Hamlet more “user friendly” and restore / instill some character. These grants come out in the October cycle. He is also looking for grants for our new Town Recreation Facility as well as open-space funding. Michael has a lot of experience with grant applications and administration and it is good to have him on board.

Senior and Workforce Housing Committee:
We have had several meetings to date. We have had discussions with many involved in the field and we have a set of draft legislation enabling this type of housing. This week we will meet with the Town Planner and Town Attorney to set a timeline to refer these proposed laws to the Planning Board and the Town Board for their review.

Open Space Preservation Committee:
We have had a few meetings of this new committee – we generally meet in the evening on the second Monday of the month. Rebecca Thornton from the Dutchess Land Conservancy gave a presentation in June and our Grant Writer stopped in for a chat last week and at that meeting Vice-Chairman, Carmine DelGaudio, gave a report on the excellent D.E.P. properties in the Town. Seeing as we are new to this, we are still feeling our way around. Marge Jackson is our Chairwoman and she is doing a terrific job. We are presently working on public outreach (that reminds me – I have to contact our Webmaster to put a webpage on our Town website for the Open Space Committee) and we will have a booth at Community Day. One of our first challenges is to assemble an inventory of vacant land to consider for preservation. Delbert Lee is going to check with the county to see if maps are available. There is a lot of work to do, but I must say that this committee is very dedicated and enthusiastic.

Master Plan revision:
Because the Town adopted a Master Plan some years ago we have a document to build on. Due to the fact that we will be revisiting hamlet development, introducing open space preservation and senior and workforce housing, it would be wise to review the old document and incorporate these new initiatives.

There is so much more to report on. For example, Dutchess County Soil and Water and I will be exploring the Fishkill Creek down by the Lake City area in the next few days. I just attended an excellent workshop by the county on flooding and stream maintenance – this is not only a local issue, it is a regional problem. The Shenandoah Waterline is being built, we hope to adopt Wetland Protection and other laws in the next few months, the Hamlet Wastewater Project is moving along, and we will have the new Little Switzerland Water Tank online as soon as the Dept. of Health signs off, and we recently interviewed a Stormwater Management Specialist (who knew that there was any such thing?) who will provide us with oversight and training.

Recently someone chastised me for making too many changes too quickly. You know, I wish that I could have taken office and just eased into it. Unfortunately, we were facing a chronic deficit, out-of-control development, major impacts to our infrastructure, and an incredible drain on our resources. I am really happy with the team I have assembled. Our Town Attorney, Town Comptroller, and Town Engineer all have the best interests of our Town at heart and each one of them understands that we are spending taxpayer’s money. We are constantly looking at ways to do things more efficiently, eliminate waste, and serve the public better. Although we are incredibly busy taking care of issues that need to be addressed immediately, we are quickly reaching a point where we can be pro-active in addressing the needs of our community.

Finally, I would also like to recognize our Town employees. In each of our departments I have found that our staff goes out of their way to serve our constituents. We have a lot of hardworking “unsung heroes” working for the Town of East Fishkill and without them we would be lost. As in any organization – we are only as good as the people that make it up and I think that the Town of East Fishkill is an excellent organization.

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