Stimulus money for Cochecton

By LINDA DROLLINGER
Posted 3/18/21

LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — At the start of the March 10 Cochecton Town Board meeting, supervisor Gary Maas announced that some funding from the COVID-19 stimulus bill passed by the U.S. House of …

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Stimulus money for Cochecton

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LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — At the start of the March 10 Cochecton Town Board meeting, supervisor Gary Maas announced that some funding from the COVID-19 stimulus bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier that day has been earmarked for the Town of Cochecton.

Exactly how much money Cochecton will get had yet to be determined; Maas received two preliminary estimates, one for $243,000 and the other for $140,000. Saying he thought the lower figure was probably more reliable, Maas added that approximately $14 million has been earmarked for Sullivan County as a whole, a figure he thought unlikely to change. “And it’s unrestricted,” said Maas. “That means it can be used for anything we need.”

“The town is in pretty good fiscal shape,” said Maas, noting that an annual audit had just been completed by accounting firm Cooper Arias LLP. “We have a shortfall of $38,000, resulting from a loss this year of usual state funding for highway improvements (CHIPS).” 

“We might get some of that CHIPS money anyway,” said highway superintendent Kevin Esselman.

“In that case,” said Maas, “We can apply stimulus money to some of our big projects: a new roof for the old town hall and repairs to water and sewer plant housing.”

But Esselman had other ideas for the money. On his list for replacement of faulty and aging heavy equipment were a stainless steel dump truck body and a new street sweeper. Between them, those two purchases would more than exhaust the lower funding estimate.

Acknowledging the highway department’s needs as legitimate, the board tabled Esselman’s request, pending further study of available options. 

“Let’s put the old town hall roof out to bid,” said Maas. “I think we should go for a metal roof that will outlast all of us.” The board agreed, but Cochecton Historic Preservation Society member Larry Richardson noted that the old town hall has been designated a historic building, which puts some limits on renovations.

“Is it on a state or federal registry?” asked code enforcement officer Jim Crowley.

“I’ll check,” said Richardson. “In any case, I think tin roofs are permissible for most historic buildings.” 

Moving on to other business, youth commission (YC) chair Sue Rodriguez announced that longtime YC board member Paddy McCarthy has stepped down, citing increased work responsibilities. Valerie DeVrieze was introduced to the board as a potential replacement for him; the board approved.

Rodriguez said the YC, which currently serves 53 children from ages 0 through 18+, continued programs during COVID-19 by sending customized age-appropriate creativity projects to children at home. 

Maas—who is part of a 26-member advisory committee studying options for restoration, replacement, or abandonment of the closed Skinners Falls-Milanville Bridge—reported that the first meeting of the committee concluded with the opinion that a study should be conducted prior to making any recommendation. In Maas’s opinion, the committee’s decision should be based on four criteria: cost, bridge lifespan and bridge height and weight limitations. An average of 379 vehicles per day crossed the one-lane bridge in 2017. Prior to the posting of a four-ton weight limitation and installation of a “headache bar,” an average of 900 vehicles crossed the Skinners Falls-Milanville Bridge each day.  

A moment of silence was observed in memory of Richard Schulman and Durwood Powell. Schulman served as town justice from 1976 to 1980, as town board councilperson from 2010 to 2012, and on the zoning board for several years. Powell worked in the highway department for more than 35 years. Said Maas, “Both men distinguished themselves through exemplary service to their community.”

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