BY CHERYL SLAVIN
Questions were raised and answered at Tuesday night’s Stony Point Board meeting about the progress of several public works projects that the town has undertaken: the Stony Point Dog Park, the Stony Point Skate Park, and the restoration of the Pyngyp Schoolhouse.
Resident Joanne Babcock, whose home and that of her in-laws will closely border the property where the dog park will be constructed, asked about noise, smell, hours of operation, capacity, and other issues that had the potential to adversely impact the quality of life on her property. She noted that the borders as she understood them would be within 100 feet of her property.
Councilman Tom Basile, who sits on the dog park committee, assured her that the proximity to her home and others near the park had been considered by the committee, and that in fact the plans had recently been revised to keep the park closer to 200 feet from her home and that of her in-laws. He also noted that there will trees, shrubs, landscaping and privacy fencing to protect the interests of homeowners in the area, as well as provide a safe and attractive environment for the dogs and their owners.
Later in the meeting Basile explained to the board and the public that a revised budget had been submitted to the Dormitory Authority (DASNY), the agency that would ultimately decide whether to approve a $75,000 state grant initially secured by Senator Bill Larkin for the dog park.
Back in April, when the town found out about the grant, the board had voted to reallocate the $15,000 dog park seed money to fund the skate park project instead. Basile now explained that the total projected budget of the dog park exceeded the grant by $2000, and DASNY required assurance from the town that it would provide the $2000 if needed. He also explain that the budget projection was conservatively high, and that in fact the park might not even need the $2000, or cost $75,000. Nonetheless, in order to fulfil the state’s requirement that every budget item be accounted for financially prior to grant approval, the town needed to send a signed Supervisor’s letter asserting that if necessary, the $2000 shortfall would be covered.
The board passed a resolution agreeing to fulfil this condition by a vote of 4 to 1. Supervisor Geoff Finn voted against the resolution because he believed that the dog park budget should not surpass $75,000. Basile is hopeful that work on the park will begin before the end of the summer.
In his Supervisor’s report Finn also noted that the town’s special counsel has been working with the Police Athletic League counsel to draft a design Request for Proposal (RFP) for the skate park. The RFP will invite design firms to submit proposals for the park, a crucial step in preparing a projected budget for construction.
The board also noted that work on the Pyngyp Schoolhouse restoration is almost completed. Larkin had secured a $50,000 DASNY grant for that project last fall, and Councilman Karl Javanes stated that the board hopes to see that money by the end of the state’s current legislative term, around the second week of June.
The board also voted to approve the proposed Cablevision franchise contract, having been satisfied that the contract is identical or nearly so to that which the other towns have signed. The contract will include revenues from DVR service in the gross receipts on which the five percent fee will be calculated, an annual sum of about $300,000. Resident George Potanovic Jr. asked whether some of that money could be earmarked to provide equipment for broadcasting or livestreaming town meetings, to which Finn replied that it is not “found money,” but revenue the town relies on yearly to keep taxes down.
Resident Susan Filgueras, as well as Potanovic, challenged the board to respond to possible environmental dangers posed by the recent explosion and oil spill from Indian Point, as well as recent brush fires directly caused by a CSX maintenance train. Filgueras pointed out that even though none of the fires reached Stony Point, they very well may do so in the future. She wanted to know what was going to be done to make sure that CSX conducts maintenance safely. Potanovic noted that oil from the spill very quickly reached Stony Point’s shores, and queried whether enough had been done to hold Entergy accountable for the clean up as well as prevention of future accidents.
The board’s only response was that the volunteer fire departments are well equipped and trained to handle fire emergencies, and that the board members were aware of the oil washing ashore. Although Councilman Jim Monaghan commended Potanovic, SPACE and Riverkeeper for their involvement in monitoring the situation, neither he nor any board member offered any official response to Potanovic’s suggestion that there be a coordinated response team established to handle environmental threats.