Lowdown on April 3 Clarkstown Town Board Workshop/Meeting

BY MARIA MIRAKAJ BROWNSELL

Community centers, senior housing and more

Clarkstown’s Town Board Workshop meeting was especially crowded this past Tuesday. Immediately following the workshop meeting was a special town board meeting that was only called together a few days prior.

Police Chief Michael Sullivan warned residents to be careful at ATM machines, as criminal are using more sophisticated technology to steal their information. They have found pinpoint size cameras hidden on the machines to record pin numbers as they are typed, and other types of recording devices to copy the swipe from the cards.

Pascack, Central Nyack, and Congers Community Centers have ADA and other improvements being proposed to have done. Ed Lettre and Drezen Cackovic of DCAK went through different problems that the centers have, what improvements should be made, and approximate costs. Central Nyack has issues with water penetration causing mold and mildew from a leaking window and roof damage. Congers has structural problems like the rotting of the steel deck, and leaks in the roof. While completing these maintenance issues and so many others, certain ADA improvements are going to be completed. There will be modifications with handrails, water fountains, inaccessible plumbing, grab bars, mirrors, and doorknobs.

The town board members had many questions about this project and why there isn’t more ADA compliance being completed as part of the project. Councilman Frank Borelli asked about the bottom line cost of this project. He said that Lettre and Cackovic need to get more information available for the board with an actual total and readable data. Councilman George Hoehmann asked about the overall needs about the project. “There are no power access doors. We need to take a slight step back and we are missing,” said Hoehmann.

The men could not provide the answers to the questions, but responded that the work needed to be done either way. Councilwoman Shirley Lasker agreed with the men and said that the project can’t wait, that there are safety liabilities, and the water damage will become worse if untreated. Supervisor Alexander Gromack talked about doing the bare minimums to keep the building functioning.

The next topic of interest was senior and volunteer housing projects, a committee headed by Councilwoman Stephanie Hausner and local architect and Rockland Business Association board member Jan Degenshein has been looking into the issue. There is an increase in the senior population, while there is a decrease in the young adult population in Clarkstown. A main part of that problem is affordability of homes for young people, especially those with lower incomes who are volunteers within the town.

Senior Accessory Housing is a proposed solution that would benefit both ends of the age spectrum. Many seniors don’t want to leave their homes, but with fixed incomes and limited mobility, that can be difficult. The plan is to put small affordable apartments, about 400 square feet, into the existing homes that can be rented out to volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers. This way the volunteers can stay in their town and continue to volunteer, while the senior has the comfort knowing that someone else is in the home if there was an emergency situation. Both the seniors and the volunteers would need to submit applications and the town would play “matchmaker” to pair the individuals together.

Qualifications for the seniors include owning their own home for at least twenty years or more, are at least 60 years old, be in a R-15, R-22 or R-40 zoned area.

Town Traffic Consultant John Sarna talked about removing the no left and no right turn signs at Snake Hill Road by the Palisades Center. Many concerned residents voiced concerns over the danger that may arise from this. Supervisior Gromack explained that they want to remove the signs and see what happens. The signs can always be put back if needed.

Michael Allen of Behan Planning spoke about putting apartments over stores in New City and other possible zoning changing in the area.

Wayne Ballard of the Clarkstown Highway Department made a presentation about specific roads in Clarkstown that need to be resurfaced. He explained how the cost of the project has to do with the cost of concrete which is directly connected to the cost of oil. The budget for the project is $120,000 but he would need an additional $120,000, for a total of $240,000.

Curbs and sidewalks are in addition to this and so is the proposed purchase of three new highway trucks. The trucks from 1991 and 1992 will be replaced with new, more effective, plow trucks.

Almost three hours later, everyone got their comments out and the special town board meeting began. The resolutions were all approved unanimously by the board.

Michael Hull of Bardonia questioned the board on the open meetings law in regards to the last three agenda items not being on the website. The board explained that this was a special, originally unscheduled meeting and that those items were not available to share sooner.

Stephen Levine of Congers talked about how Ed Lettre and Dresen Cackovic spoke about the improvement of the Community Center with “outrageous prices that made no sense.” Many residents in the audience chimed in, agreeing that there was something wrong there. Levine also spoke about the open meetings law and about the legality of a special meeting popping up this way.

Tom Nimick of Congers commended the town board on their deliberation during the workshop. “There was more deliberation tonight at this workshop than I have ever seen here before,” he said. He also talked about the board moves through resolutions without any discussions. “You vote very quickly, without any deliberation visible to the public.”