Stony Point Supervisor Finn Assures “He’s Not Hiding Anything” at Board Meeting

In other news, law passes banning most signs on public property, residents express concerns over Champlain Power Express, July 23 named Penguin Rep Day and much more

BY SARA GILBERT

About 30 people were present at the Stony Point town board meeting on Tuesday, July 10 where several upset residents complained about projects, including the Champlain Hudson Power Express, and Supervisor Geoffrey Finn repeatedly said how he, and the board, are not hiding anything from the public on any topics, and are trying to be as transparent as possible.

The board discussed the National Development Council, which was hired to help the town with developing the Letchworth Village property.

“There may have been a bit of a misunderstanding at the last meeting,” said Finn. “We want to get businesses and people to come to our town and settle here. We want to clarify that we’re not trying to do anything behind your backs or hide anything from you.”

The town is looking for a family-oriented “recreation facility” to put in that location. But they wouldn’t disclose what company they are currently considering. At last meeting said they were speaking with a hotel that potentially would have 300 rooms.

At the last meeting, residents became frustrated when they wouldn’t give more information. But at this one, the residents were calmer and generally patient.

According to Daniel Marsh of National Development Council, “The supervisor came to me for help. We went out to try to find the kinds of things we could bring to Stony Point that would help the area. We’re looking for companies that would bring more value here. Once a company is chosen, they’ll have to go through the regular approval and get a vote. But we just need to get these people to the point where they are saying yes before we can go beyond that.”

At the last meeting Marsh indicated he has worked with town special counsel Dennis Lynch on economic development projects in the past.

The next issue on the agenda was the adoption of a new law, the Sign Law, which would ban the display of most signs on public property.

“We’ve been working on this for a long time, since last summer,” said Finn. He listed some of the minor word changes that were most recently done to the law. He assured residents that the law is not going to affect “For Sale” signs and said in past meetings that the town did not intend to be aggressive in enforcement toward harmless signage that is quickly remove.

Repeated failure to comply with the Sign Law may result in a fine of up to $350 or imprisonment of up to three days, he read.

Part of the reason Finn wants this law in place is “come election time we’re trying to avoid the chaos of all those signs on every street corner.”

Clarkstown put this law in place and according to Finn it has been a success. Haverstraw is also in the process of developing a similar law. The Sign Law passed with all approving it except Konopko. She thought it was too rigid.

During public comments Susan Filgueras, a director for the Stony Point Action Committee for the Environment organization, also known as SPACE, spoke to the board passionately about the Champlain Hudson Power Express.

SPACE is an incorporated, non-partisan, nonprofit local organization, whose purpose is to promote and advocate for greater public awareness, education and action when it comes to issues that will adversely affect the natural resources and the quality of life in the area.

The Champlain Hudson Power Express project calls for the construction of a high voltage power line buried underground along the Hudson River and coming from Canada. The lines will transport electricity generated by hydropower plants to New York City.

The plan is for the lines to cut through Stony Point and continue into the city. She expressed extreme concern about the project and the safety to the residents. Filgueras read a letter to the board and audience that she filed with the New York State Public Service Commission and in it was a letter back from the Army Corps of Engineers. She brought up many concerns.

The town does not have the proper fire equipment needed in order to have this type of installation put in, Filgueras said. “It has been related to me that an electrical fire spewing from manholes is exceptionally dangerous and our volunteer firefighters would need special training and special equipment. We do not have this!”

She asked questions about: manholes and where they will be placed, about the residents’ property affected by power lines, cooling equipment installations under Stony Point Park, the Waldron Cemetery, several New York State Superfund Hazardous waste sites and the impact on the lines crossing with United Water Desalinization Plant.

After Filgueras spoke, Supervisor Geoffrey Finn said, “You’re one 100 percent right, no one will disagree with you here.” But there wasn’t much said after that about what the next step in discussions and planning will be, just that there will be more talks in the future to assess details.

In addition to the safety questions Filgueras has, she’s also upset by the fact that the company is Canadian. “Instead of bringing jobs to our workers they’re bringing jobs to other countries.”

Rebecca Casscles, who owns one of the properties the power lines are expected to pass through, was present at the meeting as well. She owns 69 and 71 Beach Road and the latter is located where lines will be placed. She’s utterly distraught. “They haven’t told us anything about what’s going to happen,” Casscles said, hoping that her property won’t be uprooted.

Filgueras also commented on the 300-plus-unit condos being considered, to potentially be built on the waterfront. “There’s no safety and it’s really scary,” she complained.

Once public participation concluded, the meeting moved on to other business.

The Penguin Repertory Theater is celebrating their 35th year and asked the town if July 23 could be called Penguin Rep Day from here on. The board agreed and the audience applauded as Konopko announced the acceptance of the new designated day.

The board passed the renumbering of Chapter 165 to Chapter 40. The number change is purely for organizational means.

The board agreed to open a bid for repairing Elm Avenue and Tompkins Cove. Hurricane Irene caused damage to the area. A deadline of August 9 was set for a bid to repair the area and this way they can make a decision and choose the lowest bidder by the following meeting, August 14.

The Court Clerks Conference is being held in Albany from September 30 to October 3 and would cost about $2,198 for all the town’s clerks to attend. Authorization for attendance and payment for the conference was tabled until the July 24 meeting.

In addition, the acceptance of the Ambulance Audit was also tabled because there are a lot of unanswered questions in the audit, according to the board

“We need to sit down with the ambulance corp and discuss it directly with them,” said Finn. The board will discuss the audit at the next meeting.

Approval was given for the Golf Fund and Cap Project Funds interfund transfers.

The three items on the purchasing order request were held to be discussed at the next meeting.

“We’re not hiding anything from you,” said Finn, again. “We just received the information and need to look it over ourselves.”

The Police Department Report, by Chief Brian Moore, was accepted and he thanked the board for the equipment to help demonstrate safe driving and teach children and teenagers not to drink and drive and not to text and drive.

The Economic Development Committee Report, by Councilwoman Luanne Konopko, discussed the progress at the last meeting. More information will be posted on the website and there will be a television ad soon as well, all advertising the different sites of Stony Point and encouraging tourism.

“There’s a committee being developed now for the follow up event,” said Konopko. The next meeting will be held on Monday, July 16 at 7 p.m. at the RHO building.

The Supervisor’s Report included several summer announcements including Wayne Day, July 11-14 starting at 6 p.m. each day.

The pools and parks are open and doing really well, Finn said. “It’s heartwarming to see all the kids out at the pools and camps.”

The bands have started performing and North Rockland’s bringing the “best band” to play on July 27 from 7-9 p.m. at the town pool. The nationally awarded band is Flat Five.

Finn acknowledged that the parking near the RHO building needed work. “When there are more than one event going on at the building at a time, there isn’t enough parking,” he said. But he didn’t think they’d be able to tear up the grass and pave more spots this summer so they’re looking into a shuttle bus system for those days when more activities are going on.

“We want everyone to be as comfortable as possible,” Finn said.

The Ambulance Report, given by Cheryl Hubert, discussed the new facility the department is trying to build but they are experiencing delays. The first floor ought to be complete by July 27, she said.

Finn responded that he had been discussing the building with the fire inspector and “I’m assured that the building is safe and not in jeopardy, so I hope you enjoy your new building.”

At the end of the meeting the board adjourned for an executive session.