Middletown talks trash and flood maps
By Pauline Liu
The Middletown Town Board tackled a cornucopia of topics, when it met last Tuesday night, including new flood maps, trash concerns, as well as whether the public should be given a chance to speak at the beginning or end of the meeting.
About 30 people were in attendance as Middletown Code Enforcement Officer Pat Davis presented a 15-minute-long public hearing about the newly-updated flood maps and new flood law.
Davis explained that the previous set of maps dated from 1993. Since the town participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, it is being asked to update the current flood law as well as its Flood Insurance Rate Maps to identify the areas with the greatest risk of flooding.
Davis is also the code enforcement officer for the villages of Margaretville and Fleischmanns. He explained that once the draft flood law and proposed flood maps are approved, they will be sent to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
After the hearing, Supervisor Marge Miller was given a chance to address the town board. Arkville Water District Commissioner Terry Johnson suggested that the public comments be left until the end of the meeting.
Fairview Library Board President Ingrid van der Leeden stood up to ask the town board to provide the funding to the library that had been allocated in the town’s 2012 budget. Middletown resident Blanca Calderon asked the town board to have Hog Mountain Road repaired and reopened to traffic. (Both issues are discussed in further detail in other articles.) Supervisor Marge Miller acknowledged that the town has received a number of letters from residents who urged the town to reopen the road.
Attila Wenger of Halcottsville stood up and wanted to talk trash. He explained that he’s upset that the Middletown transfer station is not accepting certain types of refuse.
“I’m discouraged about the transfer station,” he said. “It can’t take construction debris in large scale. I cannot dispose of an old television, big doormats or a blown up soccer ball. I keep getting these rude comments from our garbage operators. I had a shingle blow off my roof and they refused to take it. This is basic, basic stuff.”
Out of town hauling
Since the transfer station will not accept some of his garbage, Wenger complained that he is sometimes forced to take it to Walton or New York City. Calderon, who spoke earlier about Hog Mountain Road, also chimed in. “I take my garbage and dump it on Long Island every two weeks,” she said.
As for the town board’s response, town board member Brian Sweeney explained there have been some policy changes at the transfer station. “You can take electronics there, now,” he said. Supervisor Miller said more changes could be in the works. “One of the things that I am looking into is reviewing the policies at the transfer station,” said Miller. “It’s a public service with an emphasis on service, “ she added.
In other news, MARK Project’s Executive Director Peg Ellsworth gave an update. She explained that since the flood, 51 businesses have been assisted through the MARK Project. The organization also helped 56 displaced families find homes. “We’re still getting calls,” she said. “There’s still a need out there.”
The MARK Project is also launching a new program to assist local businesses with up to $25,000 in funding, however, the program also requires that business owners provide 20 percent of the project cost in matching funds. The MARK Project will be at the Arkville Firehall on Saturday, March 24 at 9 a.m. for anyone interested in applying.
The town board also unanimously passed Local Law No. 1 of 2012, which states that the town code enforcement officer or building inspector must be a resident of Delaware County. The new law paves the way for Billy Allison of Roxbury to become the town’s deputy code enforcement officer following Mike Boice’s resignation. The current law states that the deputy must live in the town limits. Allison is a certified New York State building inspector who is the building rehabilitation specialist for the MARK Project. He is also the code enforcement officer for the Town of Halcott.
The town board also unanimously adopted the new flood maps and new flood law. The measure, which was listed as Local Law No.2 of 2012, keeps the town eligible for flood insurance.
Supervisor Miller also explained to the town board that she has written a letter to thank Kingdon Gould for agreeing to extend his $1 million interest-free loan to Middletown. Gould offered the loan in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene last August. Miller said the loan was supposed to be paid back by April 11, but she did not specify the length of the extension.
Arkville Water District Commissioner Johnson discussed the continuing repairs to the hamlet’s system following the flood as well has his talks with FEMA.
“One will involve the raising of the well head another six feet,” he said. That work will be done at the pump house at the end of Pavilion Road at the estimated cost of $6,000. Johnson explained that another pump house at Pavilion Road and Route 28 was destroyed by the flood and will not be replaced. The reimbursement money that the water district will receive from FEMA will be used for other projects.
As the meeting drew to a close, the Fairview Library’s van der Leeden spoke again to ask the town board for its decision. That set off more decision about whether the public should be given a chance to speak at the end of the meeting.
“I think we should have public comment at the end,” said Jake Rosa, explaining that he thought the public should have that right. “ I found the comments repetitive,” said Miller.
“We’re here for town business. I know that we’re not required to give public comment at all. I like it at the beginning,” she added.
Rosa and Town Clerk Patty Kelly both said that they feel the public should be permitted to comment at the end of the meeting, since they might have questions about issues that were discussed by the town board. The meeting ended with no decision on the subject.