Village Board of Trustees Meeting December 12, 2007

The Village Board of Trustees met on December 12, 2007 at 7:30pm.

The meeting began, as usual, with the Mayoral report.

Mayor Stebbins expressed his gratitude for everyone’s hard work this past year.  While there has been progress made with many village issues, (financial and litigation issues, renegotiation of service contracts & infrastructure issues) there are still issues facing the Village such as evaluation and protection of our lakes, understaffing in the Police and DPW departments as well as the Village Office, guiderails and walls in need of repair, and street-lighting issues.

Following the Mayoral report, Trustee Darby gave a financial update.  As chief budget officer, Trustee Darby has undertaken a thorough review of the Village budgeting process in an effort to improve the system.  As a result, all department heads have been asked to submit reports detailing if they are on track with their budgets and if not why.  There has been an increase in litigation expenses for the Village due to several suits in the last year. The Village, however,  has been reimbursed by their insurance company for legal expenses from the Regna/Lindsay litigation.

During his monthly police report, Acting Police Chief Ken Sanford reported the following information for the month of November:

Criminal Complaints – 0
Non Criminal Complaints – 51
Summonses – 12 (8 of which were for speeding)
Property Damage Complaints – 2
Fire Alarms – 4 (all false)
Burglar Alarms – 10 (all false)
Animal related calls – 4
Medical Calls – 2 

11,678 non-tagged vehicles passed through the front gate.  In addition, there were a number of complaints with regard to delivery trucks blocking the roadways and as a result all delivery trucks will now be required check-in with the gate before making their deliveries so that roadway conditions can be properly assessed and dealt with in the safest possible manner.

Acting DPW Superintendent Jeff Voss had nothing out of the ordinary to report.

Advisory Committee and Board Reports were given.

Environmental Advisory Committee: On behalf of the EAC, Sally Spooner reported that after meeting with several county and state organizations, it is the recommendation of the Committee that the Village hire the appropriate consultant to properly evaluate the lakes and create a management plan.  This evaluation would include collection of water samples over a year’s time, which would be used to create a model of our watershed and this in turn would be used to create the management plan.  The committee recommends having all three lakes assessed at the same time, as they are connected and directly effect one another.  The rough estimate given to the committee for these services is $50,000, which includes the collection and testing of samples, creation of a watershed model as well as the development of the management plan.  The Committee is seeking official permission from the BOT to put out a request for proposals.  Mayor Stebbins responded that while he is extremely supportive of this initiative, the price tag might be a little high, considering the infrastructure costs currently facing the Village.  Trustee Worthy suggested that there will never be a less expensive time to move forward on this than now and suggested the committee put out the request for proposals so that they might hear some presentations and gather more information.  The Board voted unanimously in favor of this action. David Morton expressed his extreme concern over results from private tests that he and his wife had done on samples from the Wee Wah.  Resulting reports claim the existence of cyanobacteria  in the water in August.  Mr. Morton fears that this potentially toxic strain on algae could be a very serious public health issue for the Village. Ms. Spooner responded that the consultant will be able to help the Village to better identify these types of issues and manage them properly.

Ed Stroz reported on behalf of the Website Advisory Committee. The committee recommends that the Board adopt specific policies with regard to how content should be posted to the Website, and how to respect the privacy of email addresses of the visitors to the Website who communicate with the Village by email.  Because content that appears on the Village Website is ultimately accountable to the elected officials of the Village, the committee recommends that all material be reviewed and authorized by the Webmaster before posting. Once authorized, the Webmaster can utilize the help of the volunteer Web-Manager in posting and updating material as needed. In addition, the committee recommends that email addresses gathered from email correspondence with the Village Website not be used for any other purposes, such as sending campaign emails, unless clearly authorized by the sender.   

Emergency and Disaster Advisory Committee: Dennis Miller reported for the EADC.  The committees revised mission statement has not yet been approved by the Board, however the committee has been working on developing a risk management plan, which involves indentifying risks that face our community, evaluating the scope of these risks as well as their potential impacts.

Board of Architectural Review: Chiu -Yen Hemple gave a report on the performance of the BAR since the formation of the current Board in August.  In this 5 month period, 21 applications have come before the Board and all have been dealt with as expeditiously as possible.  Eleven of these applications have been approved, 2 of them in only one session and 6 in just two sessions.  In general, the process has become more efficient and open.  The Board has asked that the building inspector give reviews on each project before the BAR makes their comments, which has been an extremely helpful addition to the process.  In addition, the BAR has created an official Building Permit Package, which contains all necessary paperwork for applicants as well as an explanation of the process and an explanation of how items are added to their agenda.

Finance Advisory Committee: Trustee Darby announced that Alan Barnett has agreed to co-chair the FAC along with himself.

Village Engineer, Rich Messer, gave a brief report and summary of current projects in the Village.  There were 10 projects referenced in his report and they are as follows:

  1. Digitizing of Village Maps – This is currently being completed.  12 of the 14 maps have been copied and returned.  
  2.  Wee Wah Dam – A visual inspection has been completed and a report will be generated by the end of the week ending 12/15.  The next step will be to work with the Mayor to generate a Request for Proposals.
  3. Map Digitization GPS – This work is beginning and in the coming weeks they will begin picking up manholes and gathering other such information.
  4. Yanuzzi wall – Options for upgrade are being considered
  5. Gruterich Wall – This wall has a buldge and has been leaking.  Options are being explored while the Village works out a payment arrangement with the Gruterichs.
  6. Venting issue at the Waste Water Treatment Plant – There is a venting issue in the waste water treatment  plant which has caused some damage in the building.  Village Engineers are assessing the problem and preparing a report with suggestions on how to correct it.  This report is expected by week’s end.
  7. Sewer Plant Damage – There has been some damage to the Sewer  Plant building, which is currently being assessed.  A report will be generated.
  8. Infrastructure Management – Together with Mayor Stebbins and Trustee Shaw, Engineers will develop plans for capital improvements to Village infrastructure.  Issues will be prioritized according to budgetary constraints.
  9. BAR meetings –Technical Issues are being addressed as they arrive.
  10. Planning Board Meetings – Technical Issues are being addressed as they arrive.

Public Comments: During the public comment period Peter Regna thanked the Board for having appointed John Ledwith as Tax Assessor and went on to inquire about the Board’s intentions for re-assessments in a “down market”.  Mayor Stebbins replied that while there are many questions regarding assessments that still have not been addressed, homes will be assessed at the end of the year based on their current value irregardless of “up” or “down” markets.

David Morton inquired as to how he would go about challenging the Village Code in an effort to have certain areas reviewed  and rewritten.  Mayor Stebbins replied that there are provisions in the code for this process. 

Meg Vaught reported that she had attended the December 11 Town Planning Board meeting, at which developers for Tuxedo Reserve were given Preliminary Conditional Approval for Phase One of the development, Northridge.  She went on to inquire if the Board planned to appoint a Trustee Liason to this important project as it moves forward.  The Board responded by discussing which of them might have time to attend meetings and educate themselves on the issue, however, no determinations were made.

Sally Sonne requested information about recycling procedures with the new service on Wednesdays. She was informed that cans and bottles should be rinsed and placed loose in a bin, while paper and cardboard should be bound together with either tape or string.  These items should be left curbside by 7am on the morning of pick-up.  

Nancy Hayes commended the Board for their efforts in re-establishing a recycling program in the Village.

Mary Graetzer inquired as to the status of the hiring of a new full time police officer.  Acting Police Chief Ken Sanford responded that he is searching for the correct candidate for the job and in the meantime, the Village has 2 full time officers who are on duty 9-5 Monday through Friday.  David Du Pont commended the Board for their decision to hire another officer. He continued on to say that it makes a tremendous difference in emergency response time for both the Ambulance and Fire Department.

Following the Public Comment Period, there was a brief Public Hearing on Local Law No. 1, the Fence Law.  No comments were made.  The board resolved to adopt the law.

The NYS Uniform Fire Prevention & Building Code Resolution was discussed.  Village Attorney, Rick Golden, has reviewed the resolution and feels that there is a lack of clarity in the law.  In his opinion, local law is not required to accomplish certain minimum standards.  Because the administrative and enforcement section of the code has been amended by New York State, the Building Inspector can reaffirm the Village Building Code in terms of complying with these minimum standards.

A resolution was made and adopted to amend the current Garbage contract so that the actual price reflects the bid price of $12,719.95 per month.

A public discussion about the Wee Wah Beach Club took place.

Various proposals for change at the site were received by the Board on the morning of the BOT meeting, however,  no presentations were given.  David McFadden asked the Board to please consider his proposal and contact him with any questions.  When asked if he was prepared to discuss his proposal with the Board and answer questions, he declined.

Alexa Yanuzzi inquired as to whether or not the water in the lake is actually safe for swimming.   In addition, she inquired as to Village’s liability in leasing the space to an entity if there is a potential public health issue.  The Mayor responded that testing done by the Village in the month of August shows that the water is not unsafe for swimming, however the Village does have pre-emptive rights to shut down the Beach Club based on any information received on an ongoing basis.

Trustee Darby commented that the agreement in question is not actually a lease, but rather a nonexclusive license agreement for use of the swimming area.  The Village has the right to make changes to this agreement and can change rules and regulations at any time. 

David McFadden inquired as to the Board’s process for reviewing proposals and was told that after reading all proposals, new terms would be established on which to renegotiate a Beach Club lease.  This response angered many audience members who accused the Mayor of not wanting to see change on the property.  In his response to these accusations, the Mayor explained that he had asked for proposals from the community in an effort to work together with residents and was open to their suggestions.  When soliciting these proposals he was very clear about the parameters of what must be included, specifically a cost analysis and a management plan.  While one of the proposals does address the management issue by suggesting that the Village create a Recreation Department to run the Beach, none of them address the issue of financing. However,  the Board will carefully review all of the proposals and if they have addressed key issues in need of change the renegotiation process with the Beach Club will be very different.  Trustee Hanson commented that while he was in agreement that the Village should not be in charge of running the day to day operations at the beach, he did feel that residents should be given more time to present their ideas and clearer guidelines under which to present them.  Trustee Shaw agreed with these comments, stating that she believes the Club can be run by a third party.

The Trustees discussed the possibility of setting another, special meeting at which residents who have submitted proposals can formally present and discuss their ideas with the Board.  In addition, Board members would like to hear from representatives of the Beach Club at this time.  After MUCH further debate and discussion, a special meeting was set for January 10, 2008.  Any additional proposals to be reviewed by the Board must be submitted to the Village Office no later that January 7, 2008. 

The Wee Wah Dam engineering contract proposal was discussed.  As reported at last month’s meeting, initial engineering analysis of the Wee Wah Dam has shown that leaking water is coming from a gap between stop logs and NOT underneath the dam.  In order to fix this, marine contractors will need to be hired to insert  temporary stop logs in front of the leaky ones.  Once these temporary logs are in place, engineers will be able to repair the leaky logs and also take a dry look at the base of the dam.  This will allow them to better assess the dam’s bulge as well as any smaller leaks that might exist.  It is crucial that this be addressed before winter sets in.  The Village is in receipt of one bid from O’Brian and Gere, but would like to consider a second bid from Weston and Sampson as well.  The Board discussed  granting Mayor Stebbins and Trustee Shaw permission  to enter into a contract, not to exceed $19,000, but no action was taken.

A new local law, which redefines the responsibilities of the Board of Architectural Review and the Planning Board was discussed.  BAR Chairman Chiu Yen Hemple explained the reason for the new legislation, which will redefine site plan responsibilities between the two boards.  Currently, applications for new construction on raw land must be seen first by the Planning Board, however, if there is an existing structure on the property, the applicant comes straight to the BAR instead.  As a result of this “Wrinkle” in the code, the BAR is forced to take on Planning Board responsibilities for those properties with existing structures.  Therefore, the proposed local law will more clearly define Board responsibility by stating that ALL new construction on raw land, regardless of pre existing structures, will  be seen by the Planning Board first.  A public hearing was set for January 16, 2008.

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