Stony Point Town Board votes to spend $7,000 per year to post meeting videos on website; hears from public about Spectra gas line and CHPE

Correction – The headline states that the annual cost of the video initiative is $7,000 per year. The correct number is $5,500 annually.  The first year expense of the  initiative is higher, about $6,650, due to an additional fee charged for set-up costs.

BY CHERYL SLAVIN

In an effort to increase public outreach and improve transparency in government, the Stony Point Town Board addressed two different proposals, one from Rockland Web Design and the other from Community Electronic Informational Signage, at its regular meeting Tuesday night. The board also heard from the public on the continuing concerns about the Spectra gas line and the Champlain Hudson Power Express.

The town has already contracted with Rockland Web Design to completely overhaul the current website in order to make it more accessible and informative. The additional proposal would be to have the company digitally record every town meeting and post it on the website.

It would cost $1,149 to start up, with an additional $225 for each meeting recorded. The intent, according to Supervisor Geoff Finn, would be to make the content of the meetings available to people who cannot otherwise attend, as well as to produce an archive which could be easily accessed.

Councilman Jim White spoke in favor of the idea, stating that doing so would “extend the reach of local government.” Councilman Tom Basile was also supportive, noting that it was important to “leverage new technology in order to increase public awareness and government transparency.” Councilman Jim Monaghan, however, spoke against, asserting that the approximately $7,000 could be better used elsewhere, that people interested in the proceedings could get the minutes from the website, and that it was questionable how many people would really use the service. Councilman Karl Javanes agreed with Monaghan. Ultimately, the resolution to go forward with the digital recording passed by a vote of 3 to 2.

The board also heard a presentation from Marcie Kretzmer of CEIS on a proposal to erect an electronic bulletin board within the town. As Kretzmer explained, the 7 foot by 16 foot electronic signage would come at no cost to taxpayers; costs would be covered by sale of advertising space.

As part of the deal the town would have the use, free of charge, of one of the seven advertising slots to post public service announcements about upcoming events, news and other official business. Kretzmer’s company would erect the sign and establish landscaping around it as part of the beautification efforts of the town. The board did not vote on whether to move ahead with this idea, but all of the members appeared to favor it, and agreed to look into it further.

In response to communications he has received from parents and residents who have been participating in Little League activities at Veterans Memorial Park, Councilman Basile stated that there has been an increased need for parking spaces during times of peak use, but that a significant portion of the parking area is covered with construction debris as well as household refuse such as brush and tree limbs. He urged the various department heads associated with the use of the park to come up with a plan to either remove the materials or at the very least consolidate the pile in order to make the area safer as well as more available for parking.

Finn responded that there has been some conversation among the departments, as well as some outreach to the Rockland Solid Waste Management Authority, as to how to dispose of the debris. They are still working on the question of where to dispose of waste materials currently as well as in the future. Basile would like to see a response within 30 days of the meeting.

Having heard that afternoon that the CSEA had voted approval of the memorandum of agreement, the board passed the resolution approving the new contract. The new terms are a 2 ½ percent increase for three years. Councilman White once again commended all the parties involved in the negotiations for their professionalism and dedication.

During public input resident Susan Filgueras, who has been leading the protest against the proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express, addressed the recently issued Final Environmental Impact Statement by the US Department of Energy. She strongly urged the Board to take greater action in opposing the construction of the power line over land through Stony Point, asserting that failure to do so would result in irreparable harm to the Waldron Cemetery, the Stony Point Battlefield, and to the Stony Point economy overall.

She also spoke out again against the proposed Spectra Energy pipeline, which she fears would irreparably harm her well along with those of her neighbors. Resident Anita Babcock also addressed her concerns about the impact of the pipeline on her wells, her home, and her property.

Assemblyman James Skoufis attended the meeting and announced that he had secured about $7,000 in state grants to support various civic organizations in the community, including both senior citizen groups, the Wayne Hose Company, and the ambulance corps.