Also considering whether to elect or appoint highway job
Philipstown is hopeful about pooling federal aid with Putnam County to fix Garrison’s Landing water problems that include a new mystery — a total lack of water twice in half a month, Town Board members reported last week at their formal monthly meeting at Town Hall.
Supervisor John Van Tassel said March 3 that when he conferred with Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell about using some of the county’s $19 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for upgrading the Garrison Landing Water District, she replied that it sounded like “the perfect project” for town-county collaboration.
The town engineer estimated that the overhaul would cost $860,000, far more than Philipstown can pay on its own, Van Tassel noted. “Let’s see what happens. I’m confident we’ll get some assistance,” he said. Fixing the water system, which “is bleeding the town dry,” would free up money to tackle other needs, he said.
The Garrison’s Landing system has had ongoing shortages, but Councilor Robert Flaherty reported that something new is amiss. “Over the last two weeks we ran out of water twice,” an unusual occurrence, he said. “There’s something strange going on there,” whether a hidden leak or malfunction or someone’s deliberate rerouting of water. He said the town is investigating.
Carl Frisenda, the superintendent of the Highway Department, plans to resign on March 31 for health reasons, and his departure raised the question of whether to keep the job as a partisan, elective office or make it an appointment.
Board members praised Frisenda, who was elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019. “If we needed anything,” Van Tassel said, the usual practice was to “call Carl, and it’s there.” He said Adam Hotaling, the deputy superintendent, would take over for the near future. “They’re a well-oiled machine,” at the Highway Department, Van Tassel said. “I don’t think there’ll be any drop in service.”
In recent months, Town Board members had questioned Putnam County’s intentions regarding a Philipstown-based senior aide/outreach worker job, vacant since spring 2020 when the COVID-19 crisis began. Philipstown supplied $15,000 annually, about half the salary for the post, but in December the Town Board postponed further payments until resolution of the uncertainty.
The county operates a senior citizen center at the Butterfield complex in Cold Spring.
Michael Cunningham, director of the Office for Senior Resources, provided an update March 3. Putnam is “getting close” to filling the job,” he told the board, “but we’re not quite there yet.”
Cunningham said that the county had made job offers to candidates from Philipstown and elsewhere but had no takers. Meanwhile, services remain available; for example, one employee splits time between Cold Spring and Putnam Valley, he said. “We’ve had this gap, but we haven’t skipped a beat. But we still want to fill it fulltime.”
Councilor Jason Angell said that “it’s important to have a local person” focused not only on services but outreach, identifying seniors not receiving attention.
Van Tassel said the town would help publicize the opening. “I’m confident we can fill it,” he said. The town’s budget includes $15,000 for 2022 “and I’m in favor of authorizing it to go to the county,” he added.
Before its meeting, the Town Board held a public hearing on incorporating state environmental-conservation construction standards into town law. Six residents spoke in favor. The Stretch code calls for better insulation, windows and lighting; accommodations for electric vehicles and similar adaptations in new construction.
According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), structures built to Stretch standards are 10 to 12 percent more energy efficient, reducing pollution and utility bills.
To proceed, the board must pass a resolution adopting the code and obtain state approval.
While the meeting dealt with local matters, as usual, Van Tassel opened it by commenting on the global crisis, contrasting “the freedoms we take for granted in the United States” with the horrors in Ukraine following the Russian invasion.
“Just the thought of somebody coming in and taking your home, your street, your neighborhood — this bully is attempting to do this,” he said of the Russian leader Vladimir Putin. “I’d just like to note that there’s terrible suffering going on.” He led the board and audience in a moment of silence in recognition of the Ukrainians.