Blooming Grove’s Board Wraps Up a Year of Infrastructure Upgrades
& Plans More for the Coming Year
By Edie Johnson
This past year, with all members of Blooming Grove’s Town Board new at the job, they nevertheless dove headlong into infrastructure issues that have plagued the town for years. Officials inherited an attractive but aging Town Hall. In addition to road repairs, a failing HVAC system and a well with excessive salt infiltration from both groundwater and road salt runoff that required a series of tests and reworking of the well for both the Town Hall and Senior Center. Along with repairs just appropriated for the leaking massive skylight, work on the comprehensive plan and Natural Heritage Project to protect open space, and a failing HVAC system being redesigned, they have either accomplished or are midway through solving most of the above problems. Issues with successfully negotiating a contract with the police union have plagued the town throughout the last few administrations and continue, and the lack of contract has prevented some successful new hirings. Meetings with the union are frequent and ongoing, and while everyone seems to want the process to be transparent, there are strict confidentiality restrictions that prevent sharing by any of the parties as to what the remaining negotiating issues are.
Possible Glass Recyclable Solution
New on the table this week was a possible plan for the glass recycling problem. Interstate Waste has proposed an idea that will make glass easier to dispose of during the coming months. They are working on a recycling dumpster that could be placed at the Town’s Highway Garage for resident drop-off. A minimal fee would result from a charge per dropoff of $330. IWS has shared that where other towns have used this idea the dumpsters have lasted 2-3 months. With the cost divided by 3 months and then divided among all of the residents, it would be very minimal. For now, as of January 1, glass may no longer be included in single-stream recycling, but for now can either be temporarily tossed in with regular trash, or brought to one of the county’s recycling facilities in Newburgh or New Hampton. The Town Board will continue to review the IWS proposal, but Supervisor Rob Jeroloman said there really needs to be some guidance on this from the County for a long-term plan. Glass can no longer be included in regular recycling because it will be considered trash anyway (and increase ‘tipping’ fees) if it has a contaminant count of 5% or more. Councilwoman Sonia Ayala and resident Bonnie Rum wanted to know how the county determines whether there is 5% of contaminants. The supervisor said he had inquired about that but had not really received a response as of yet. Will we go back to putting recycle products in bins on 3 different weeks as was done in the ’90’s or is the contamination issue so great that glass, which picks up contaminants easily, will continue to be unrecyclable. Will new products solve the problem, or will the pressure to turn trash into biofuel and the money to be made in those markets win out despite environmental concerns.
If the glass recyclables container is approved to be used at the Highway Department, it will be on a trial basis, and will likely only continue if glass dropped off is clean.
New Planning Board Chair Appointed
Ralph Maffei, who has chaired Blooming Grove’s Planning Board for decades has decided to retire as Chair. He will keep a seat on the board. A new Planning Chairman, Mike Malick was recommended by the current planning board and officially appointed this week.
Communications System in Serious Need of Upgrades
The town’s communication system dates back to the early 1990’s and has overlay upon overlay of products from Frontier, Warwick Valley Communications and Spectrum (which is currently the only cable company provider in that part of town). Supervisor Jeroloman said that the complications caused by so many providers and outdated cable as well as products is not only cumbersome, inefficient and costly, it can be dangerous. For instance, there is a fax machine that when used causes a fire alarm to go into “standby” mode. If no one remembered to reset the alarm and a fire occurred, it could be a real hazard.
Keith Studt of ITC Communications, a New Windsor group, gave a lengthy and very technical description of both the problems caused by the outdated system, and the advantages of upgrades that ITC could provide. ITC was presented as a leading Managed Technology Service Provider that has been in the industry for 29 years, with an A+ Better Business Bureau rating.
A few of the advantages he described are:
Upgrades could be made on the Cloud and would be immediate.
Audio and video conferencing could be included.
Equipment could be either leased or purchased.
Better equipment life expectancy.
Many hardware problems could be solved by software solutions.
Backup systems are provided in both Boston and Colorado
$2,000 in cost savings from lack of multiple providers would go a long
way toward paying for the improvements.
Impressive technical contributions by Councilman Tom DeVinko, the supervisor, and residents who have dealt with communication company challenges themselves highlighted the problems and alternatives. With Spectrum receiving a lot of bad publicity recently, some wondered what would happen if New York asked them to leave the area. Jeroloman said the state would have to authorize a company to replace them. In addition there are other companies now slightly out of our area but growing, and that they may for a somewhat higher cost provide even more reliability and better service, under the guidance of ITC.
ITC will continue to meet with and problem-solve with the board to develop a communications strategy for the coming year.