Broadband expansion targeted for Roxbury

By Patricia Adams
At its regularly monthly meeting Monday night, Roxbury town board members and residents heard encouraging updates on a number of funding and restoration projects. 
MTC President Glen Faulkner reported on efforts to expand broadband Internet access to some 550 residents in the township who aren’t currently “wired.”

Faulkner explained that MTC had previously applied for federal funding to expand access to more than 2,500 underserved residents living in local townships. When that application was denied, the company turned to a New York State grant pool, which has some $25 million to provide internet access for residents currently out of reach. The deadline for the application is July 16, said

Faulkner, and what is needed is simply a letter of support from the municipality seeking the funds and a survey of the residents currently “out of range” to see if they would be interested in such services. 

MTC is applying for $2 million in grants and would supply the other $2 million needed to expand its services throughout the area.

The MARK Project and Western Catskills would do the legwork to find out how many “unwired” residents would like to go online. Since MTC would be building a fiber optic network, they could bundle broadband access with cable television and cable phone services to customers who wanted them. In addition to Roxbury, other towns included in this grant are in Middletown, Andes, Halcott Center, Conesville, and Gilboa. MARK Project Executive Director Peg Ellsworth explained that our area, the Southern Tier has some priority in this granting process, and awards should be announced by mid-September.

In other community development news, Ellsworth noted that MARK will apply for a $400,000 community block grant for owner-occupied home repair. The application process requires a public hearing, which is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Monday July 9, immediately preceding the next regular town board meeting. The grant, if awarded, would be available to income-eligible residents throughout the township.

MARK is also at work on a consolidated funding application to the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, to help restore the town’s 19th-century train depot and create a “gateway” center with advanced technology to enhance visitors’ experience of the historic depot. Ellsworth explained that Main Street grant monies had already been approved to start on the restoration. That grant will reimburse up to $40,000 with 65 percent of project costs coming from the grant, and a 35 percent cost match from the recipient.

Further restoration work on the South Barn of Kirkside Parks was awarded to Beaverdam Builders through a competitive bidding process. Of the three bids submitted, one was incomplete and had computation errors, and of the two complete bids, Beaverdam was the lowest, at $139, 619.36.
The town board unanimously approved resolutions and letters of support for all of these projects, and accepted the bid from Beaverdam, which will be able commence work immediately.

Ellsworth added that Main Street Revitalization grants are still available for repair of rental properties with two or more units. It is also a 65/35 percent match, with the grant reimbursing 65m percent of the cost. Only half of the rental units rehabilitated must be made available at low- or moderate-income rental rates. The contact for information on those grants is the MARK Project at 586-3500.

On the FEMA front, the town has finally received some $149,000 in flood damage relief; but the state has not yet provided any of the state or local funding promised. In other flood relief related news, Attorney Kevin Young reported that Delaware County is pressing the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for flood mitigation funds for the area. Such funding would be used to relocate properties in danger of future flooding, improve and enlarge culverts as needed and work to reduce hazards and conditions along stream banks that are prone to flooding. 

The town received no bids on the 2003 Chevy 3500 truck it hopes to sell. It was decided to put it out to bid again without a minimum bid required. Town attorney Kevin Young assured the board that they were still allowed to reject any bids they deemed too low. 

The town board will try to set up a meeting with the town’s assessor Bob Breglio, the state Office of Real Property Tax Services and town board members to discuss the next stages of planning a town-wide property revaluation, which has not been done since 1978. That meeting is tentatively planned for Wednesday, July 11 at 7 p.m.

The town board also approved a $40 Site Plan visit fee (this is in addition to the Site Plan application fee) on behalf of the town’s planning board.

Resident Cherie Serrie asked whether any action steps had been taken on properties that were cited for needing cleanup. Supervisor Tom Hynes indicated that one site had been cleaned up and that another property owner had been served and had an appearance date in court. 

The date of the next town board meeting will be Monday, July 9 at 7:30 p.m., with a brief public hearing immediate preceding at 7:15 p.m. to let residents learn and ask questions about the application for Owner-Occupied Home Repair grants.