January 16, 2004

January Town Board meeting reflections

After nearly a day, the Town Board meeting last night seems to have had four main Dryden-related themes:

  • More interest in efficiency than public input
  • Sewer pump with problems
  • Storm water a growing issue
  • Recreation and trails as important services

The first one, of course, is the most troubling, though hopefully things will improve as the board settles in. On arrival, the rules of procedure attached to the agenda felt like a warning sign. The first speaker at citizen privilege, David Stotz, talked about road work on Hunt Hill Road and a citizens' committee that wanted to work with the town, to little response. (Hunt Hill Road and concerns over its widening have been a long-standing issue.)

David Stotz addresses the Town Board
David Stotz addresses the Town Board

Then, during the Highway Superintendent's briefing, the Board passed a list of road repairs, despite engineering estimations (based on aerial photography) still in progress.

Though Supervisor Steve Trumbull read the list to the audience, no one else had seen this list. County legislator Martha Robertson's request that they postpone voting on this list until the public had had a chance to see and comment on the list was rejected in favor of Highway Supervisor Jack Bush and Councilman Marty Christofferson's suggestion that they could pass it now and amend it later - and the board duly voted its approval, except for Councilman Hattery.

Efficiency seemed to be Christofferson's goal, rather than public comment, as he noted that "Once we start the meeting, our goal is to get through the business part of our meeting.

The sewer pump on Freese Road provided some unfortunate drama, as the Board tried to decide whether they could go ahead and replace the pump (for $27,000+), which stopped working New Year's Eve, or whether they had to put it out to public bid. Trucking the sewage didn't sound like an appealing option, especially as the Town needs its drivers on plows. A temporary used pump ($2000) is helping, though it needs to be checked once a day. Financing the replacement also provided some problems, as $10,000 that had been allocated for the pump was spent on the Varna sewer pump station last year (by unanimous vote).

Storm water looks to be a more and more important issue, as New York State is requiring counties and towns to develop more comprehensive plans for dealing with it. Debbie Gross, the environmental planner, seems likely to be carrying most of this burden for the next few years. She also reported on the availability of a much cheaper Geographic Information System (GIS) package, which would let the Town do more of its own data analysis. Tompkins County has an impressive GIS office and lots of data, and I'd love to see the Town in a better position to use it.

Finally, the Recreation Department report had lots of interesting content and mostly cheerful news, including an ice skating rink in the Village of Dryden where "night skating will be available once they get the bulbs in."

There was brief discussion of a lot of other issues, including vacancies on various boards, fire department contracts that aren't yet complete, and Mike Lane's description of the County Legislature's organizational meeting.

Further from town issues, Medicaid was an important issue in the County briefing. Martha Robertson noted that State Senator Randy Kuhl's recent proposal would only save $600,000 of $11,000,000 the county presently spends on Medicaid, and suggested that while it would help, it wouldn't help much. Mike Lane also noted that county legislators had met with state Assembly members while they were in town, and noted that different tax policies make a big difference in how the issue is perceived in New York City and outside of it.

Posted by simon at January 16, 2004 5:48 PM in , , ,
Note on photos