BY CHERYL SLAVIN
Community activist Susan Filgueras, who has taken the lead in public opposition to the Champlain Hudson Power Express, informed the Stony Point Town Board and the public at Tuesday’s board meeting that the State Historic Preservation Office, through its spokesman Brian Yates, has indicated that it “has no problem” with the CHPE power line running 200 feet beneath the historic Waldron Cemetery.
Filgueras said she did have a problem with it and plans to gather folks together to fight it. “I have a moral, spiritual, religious and ethical problem with this. Those people who are in the ground resting should not disturbed,” she said.
In her opinion the state is not taking into consideration the equipment above ground that will be needed to install the line. The dredging technology used, however, is touted as being able to go underground for half a mile at a time, so it is not clear that Filgueras is correct when she says above ground equipment will disturb the gravesite.
Filgueras also noted that the Sons of the American Revolution have taken the lead in applying for the cemetery’s federal historic status, and that Waldron has already qualified for state historic status. Filgueras encouraged the board, and every concerned member of the public, to continue to write letters and send emails to the PSC and the SHPO to prevent the incursion of CHPE through Stony Point’s land.
Stony Pointers received some uplifting news at Tuesday night’s board meeting when Michael VerSchneider, director of Habitat for Humanity Rockland, announced the start of Habitat’s “Brush with Kindness” program in the community. Better known for its work building houses for the homeless or nearly homeless, Habitat also reaches out within communities to help with smaller but no less important projects on homes already standing.
Through Brush with Kindness the organization finds disabled, elderly or low income residents who need some exterior home maintenance and rallies volunteers to help them. Habitat for Humanity first connected with Stony Point several weeks ago through meetings of Stony Point’s Community Reconstruction Zone committee.
“We are actively seeking eligible families for our program,” VerSchneider explained. “So if you know anyone who might need this kind of assistance, or you do yourself, please contact us.” He also stated that Habitat is always looking for more volunteers, and encouraged the public to join the organization.
Councilman Tom Basile spoke highly of Habitat, noting that he had had a wonderful experience while volunteering to build a house. All of the board members expressed their gratitude, with Supervisor Geoff Finn noting that this sort of help was especially meaningful post-Hurricane Sandy. VerSchneider remained in the back of the room after he spoke to register people interested in helping or being helped. Anyone interested can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845-354-5635.
The RHO handicapped accessible bathrooms are still in line to be built, but the Board has run into another snag in the plans. The lowest bid for the construction came in at $169,000 but the town only has $127,000 in Community Development Block Grant money set aside for the work. Finn noted that the Board is not prepared to pay the additional $50,000 from town funds.
However, the new CDBG grant of up to $100,000 should become available in May. This money is currently slated to be used to install bathrooms at Kirkbride, but Finn proposed the possibility of using some of that money to make up the difference for RHO.
Councilman Jim White also inquired whether the construction costs could be lowered to meet the budget by scaling down the project, which Finn agreed would be “Plan B.” The board then tabled the discussion until next month, at which time it will know how much the new CDBG will be, and make a decision accordingly.
The board also discussed the demolition of five or six houses on Beach Road that were irretrievably damaged during Hurricane Sandy. Several Beach Road homeowners have recently torn down and are replacing their Sandy destroyed homes. However, there are a few who do not have the means to do so, whether it is from insurance or FEMA problems.
Therefore the town intends to use FEMA money to take down the structures itself in order to remove the public nuisance and safety hazards. Special Town Counsel Don Feerick stated that he will provide the board by the next meeting with a step by step guide to ensure that every legal procedure is followed. The homeowners will be given notice, and there will be a public hearing as well.
The board tabled its discussion of the proposed electronic communication and social media policy for town employees after Feerick noted that the current proposal does not contain any language expressly stating that town employees would have no expectation of privacy if using town computers for personal use, language that is fairly common in most employer policies, as well as no guidelines for discipline if the policy is breached.
Special counsel will prepare a complete supplement with proposed changes and additions in time for the next meeting.