Targets Illegal Dumping
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
Philipstown’s Town Board last week officially adopted the Putnam Pathways program, linked to its current rezoning effort, and confronted accounts of illegal dumping. In its Dec. 2 regular monthly meeting, the board also got an update on closure and repair of part of Indian Brook Road.
By a unanimous vote, the Town Board – supervisor and four town council members – unanimously signed onto Putnam Pathways, a planning resource program that comes with a lengthy compendium of comprehensive plans, including Philipstown’s, maps, templates, material from towns and villages, and similar land-use guides. The Dec. 2 vote followed a board decision in August to push ahead with Pathways and efforts to become a participating community in the Hudson Valley Greenway Compact. Such participation brings advantages in terms of state support for rezoning, more clout when seeking grants, and similar benefits. Officially known as “Putnam County Pathways: A Greenway Planning Program Linking Putnam’s Open Space, Historic, Cultural and Economic Resources,” Pathways is the county extension of the Greenway initiative.
“The board has considered this for a long period of time,” Supervisor Richard Shea said before the vote. Despite scattered complaints over the last several months that Pathways and heightened Greenway involvement would undermine local authority, “I personally can’t find anything in here that is offensive, that would violate home rule,” Shea said. He described Pathways as “a voluntary set of guidelines. In adopting this, I just don’t see any risk. I see a lot of upside. I don’t see any downside at all.” On a related development, the board also authorized Shea to sign a contract with the Greenway for a $10,000 matching grant. “This is really a worthy effort to promote planning and zoning here,” Shea said.
Illegal dumping on town roads
During the portion of the meeting devoted to departmental reports, the board heard of illicit trash-tossing on town property. “Over the last several months, the Highway Department has received various calls in reference to garbage dumping on town roads,” Highway Superintendent Roger Chirico wrote in a report read aloud by Councilwoman Betty Budney. Chirico said that the cast-offs included couches, toilet bowls, and household garbage, all of which the department had to remove. “Illegal dumping is very costly to the department and taxpayers,” Chirico stated. He warned residents that those caught violating the town law will face penalties and be reported to state authorities. A member of the audience, Lee Erickson, proposed the town approach trash-law violators as it would pesky animals. Set up “some kind of varmint camera” to catch the culprits, he suggested. “We’ll look into that, this is a good suggestion,” Shea replied. “There’s been an uptick in trash dumping lately, he noted. Chirico’s report also mentioned a different debris problem and asked citizens to help keep storm drains clear to promote adequate run-off.
Indian Brook Road
In more highway-related activity, Chirico reported that “due to unsafe conditions, Indian Brook Road has been closed to all traffic from mailbox 154 to mailbox 180 until further notice.” His report cited “years of deterioration of the existing retaining wall” and the need make immediate repairs. Otherwise, “the wall would collapse down the steep ravine into the falls,” he wrote. Photographs displayed at the meeting showed the department’s initial work, which involves construction of a new retaining wall. He said that the highway department applied for a state grant “to cover $100,000 of this project. However, due to New York State budget constraints, there is no guarantee that this money will be available.”
Shea assured that the town would find the funds for such contingencies. “Any project in this town that needs funding regarding roads, highways, or anything” similar in infrastructure, “this board is fully ready to fund,” he said. “As far as public safety is concerned, this board is not scrimping on the budget.”