ELDRED, NY — Despite the unprecedented time and the uncertainty of budgets and funding, the Highland Town Board moved through its agenda with due diligence. The October 13 meeting began with a …
ELDRED, NY — Despite the unprecedented time and the uncertainty of budgets and funding, the Highland Town Board moved through its agenda with due diligence. The October 13 meeting began with a moment of silence to honor the passing of town residents Isabel Strenglein and Jay Warren and monthly reports from Yulan and Highland Lake Fire Departments, American Legion Ambulance and the town constable. The board approved a request from Eldred Entertainment LLC / Elm Tree Development LLC (DBA Eldred Preserve) to write a letter of support waiving the 30-day filing period to the State Liquor Authority for an on-premise liquor license.
Town supervisor Jeff Haas reported that the highway salt shed was expected to be completed by October 16, allowing for its immediate use. He promoted the board’s preparation of the 2021 budget saying, “We’ve been working diligently.” A final budget workshop was scheduled for October 19. The public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, October 29 at 7 p.m.
Board member Fred Bosch said that the Highland Senior Center was opening up for small groups to play cards and regular meetings remain postponed. Board member Kaitlin Haas reported that the summer youth program had ended for the year and that next year’s agenda will continue with building trails in Hickock Park.
Board member Jim Hanson commented on increased usage of state lands saying, “[It] looks like many people are using state land and leaving their garbage. We were lucky to get some volunteers to clean up behind them.”
Hanson did not mention that it was he, along with George Fountain and Norm Sutherland Jr., who did the cleanup. Haas interjected with a related concern: “Bears are very active lately; seems that the mother bears have kicked out the year-and-a-half-old cubs. They’ve found garbage picking along the Yulan Barryville Road, very prosperous right now.”
Reminding residents that the town has no personnel to dispatch, he hoped that people would put out their garbage in the early morning, and secure it.
Code revisions are being reviewed with the help of a consulting firm, The Laberge Group. It was suggested by Hanson and Bosch that changes that the board generally agrees with can be voted on by the end of the year. Issues that need more research and discussion are short-term rental policies and code provisions objected to by the National Park Service; these will be deferred.
Work on the closed bridge on Eldred-Yulan Road was expected to be completed by October 16. This would relieve the complicated arrangements made by first responders to get to emergency calls on opposite sides of the bridge. A county hazard mitigation team has been formed to head off possible problems arising from future disaster declarations; it was attended by the code enforcement officer Dave Preston.
Grant funding is an issue of concern, primarily because funds flowing from the federal to the state level have been impeded. There are several bills due, including salt and sand purchases, a generator and a fire alarm system for the new town shop. All have been approved or are in the application process. Deputy supervisor James Gutekunst assured the board that, although waiting for disbursals, “from the cash flow standpoint, we are pretty solid.” A related issue is the Highland River Access, which has been in the works for several years. Highway superintendent Tom Ebers reported that the ramp is almost done and Hanson said that grant money will be available after plans have been completed. Sullivan Renaissance volunteer Karol Sundholm met with Sullivan Renaissance leadership and reported that the organization was impressed by the town’s ongoing efforts. As always, volunteers are needed.
Constable Michael Walton and the board addressed the issue of a Halloween curfew. Since there will be no trunk-or-treat and Saturday nights have been low key, the board felt that regular patrols on Friday and Saturday nights would be adequate.
The meeting was recessed until the October 19 budget workshop and the board convened in executive session to discuss a personnel issue and financial reports.