Shandaken Board mulls mid-year spending requests

By Jay Braman Jr.
The Shandaken Town Board heard a plan last week from a group of Phoenicia parents asking for some town support to install a large piece of playground equipment in the Phoenicia Park behind the post office.
The $12,000 “Star Climber,” according to the group’s spokesperson, Heather Roberts, would be a great addition to what many consider an under equipped park.
At first Councilman Rob Stanley motioned to just pay for the Star Climber outright, using money from the town’s Good Neighbor Fund, an account with over $500,000 in it supplied by the City of New York for local capital projects.
Such good will failed to get support, especially after it was noted that another group of residents had asked the town for Good Neighbor money earlier this year to build a skate board park and received a chilly reception. They were told that a petition was needed to show that there was sufficient town support for such a plan before the town board would even consider tapping the fund. Many wondered what the actual protocol was to apply for Good Neighbor funds since there was such a difference between the response to the skateboard plan and the star climber plan.
Eventually it was agreed that the board would wait a month to mull over the star climber plan after Mike Ricciardella warned that spending $12,000 for the Phoenicia Park may open the floodgates for requests to put money into all the other parks in town.
“Pretty soon it will be $48,000,” Ricciardella said.
More spending requests followed. Supervisor Peter DiSclafani said that after $9,000 in upgrades have been made to the ambulance squad’s headquarters on Ava Maria Drive in Phoenicia they now want to have an addition built that would not only provide heated, indoor parking for their new Fly Car, but would also have an upstairs added on the entire building.
DiSclafani said the upstairs spaces would be used as “classrooms.”
With no real proposal in hand yet it was difficult to figure out how much it would cost, but DiSclafani said they could prepare a scaled back version of the project as well.
Councilman Vincent Bernstein put the brakes on the plan, saying that everyone was aware when the budget was being prepared last fall that this year was going to be a tough one.
“This doesn’t sound like belt tightening to me…this 2009,” he said.
A plan will be prepared and the actual cost will be determined before the board considers the matter further.
Things became surly when DiSclafani said that he found a way to save over $30,000 on the town’s insurance premiums. Now paying $105,000 a year, he said he has been given a quote for an even better insurance package for around $70,000. Instead of being congratulated for finding such a savings, DiSclafani was lambasted by frequent DiSclafani critic Joan Lawrence-Bauer, who said that expenses like that should be put out to bid instead of just having the supervisor make a couple of calls about it.
DiSclafani, who told Lawrence-Bauer to not yell at him, agreed to hold off on taking the new quote. Instead the board will advertise for bids and open them next month.