The Town of Haverstraw held its January 2019 meeting on January 14. The agenda contained 29 different items ranging from accepting police activity reports to allotting money for various town and repair projects. There was one part of the agenda that was not simply “town business.” This was the swearing in of two new Haverstraw police officers, Christopher Widman and William Lonergan.
Widman, a Garnerville native, transferred from being an officer in New York City after 3.5 years. “I wanted to work where I grew up,” he said. Did he feel there would be differences in being a police officer in Rockland as opposed to NYC? “Not really. In both places, my job is to protect and serve the local community.”
Lonergan on the other hand is coming from the Rockland County Corrections Department after 4.5 years. “It’s the next step in my law enforcement career,” he said. “I grew up in Rockland and wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.” He took the test, has a lot of friends in the department and feels this is a great opportunity for him though he did enjoy his time with Corrections.
For Lonergan, there are differences between the two jobs. First, “It will be nice to be outdoors,” he said. Second, it will enable him to interact more with the community: “I will get to meet interesting people and serve the community.”
When asked about their goals, both Widmer and Lonergan said their careers are just starting and they want to take things one day at a time and retire healthy and happy.
Unlike big cities like New York where they constantly have new officers joining the force, small towns don’t have that kind of turnover. “Adding new officers depends on staffing and retirements,” said Haverstraw Police Chief Murphy, a 31-year veteran. “Sometimes we have two, sometimes we have had as much as six new officers being hired.” Haverstraw Police Department is constantly interviewing and going through the process. Recently Officer Dave Kryger retired.
The Town of Haverstraw and the Village of Haverstraw used to be separate departments. In 2006, the village realized they couldn’t afford to maintain the PD, so the town and village departments merged into the Town Department. There are 66 officers in the department. As far as future hiring, this is a civil service job. There is a civil service list and 15 people are currently in the bracket.
After the swearing in of the officers and a 5-minute recess, the board got down to business. Town budgets contain a lot of different programs and projects that benefit the community. Part of these funds come from the community development funds. As with most of the money spent by municipalities, public hearings are held to give the residents a say in how this gets spent.
Howard Phillips, Haverstraw Town Supervisor, announced the public hearing 2019 community development funds. “This is a public hearing we do every year where the community development office posts a legal notice and they did so through the Journal News. It’s an opportunity for the public to speak on how we spend or utilize our community development funds to do so.” He asked if anyone wanted to speak on this issue, and no one spoke. The motion passed unanimously.
Every time we turn around, new sports are coming on to the scene. Extreme biking, skateboarding, snowboarding and the like. One not-so-new one that’s becoming popular is called pickleball, which is a paddle sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. Two or four players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, similar to a Wiffle Ball, over a net. The sport shares features of other racquet sports, the dimensions and layout of a badminton court and a net and rules somewhat similar to tennis, with several modifications. Pickleball was invented in the mid-1960s as a children’s backyard pastime.
One of the next things on the agenda was a public hearing on the addition of pickleball courts at Bowline Point Park near the volleyball court. “What we’re trying to do is offer all kinds of recreation to our residents,” Phillips stated. “We’ve had a number of residents—I hate to call them senior citizens, so we’ll call them aged residents—who are very interested in this rapidly growing sport. We’re hoping it takes off and we have a number of residents down there, but we are willing to experiment on it.” No one in the gallery offered any comment.
Attracting new businesses to a community has many benefits. New jobs, more tax dollars from the business and the employees coming into the community’s treasury. Many towns use pilot programs to attract new businesses. These programs give some tax breaks for a period of time, but there are payments made in lieu of these taxes. “It’s quite common for the town to use different pilot programs available to us,” said Phillips. “That means payment in lieu of taxes or renegotiating an agreement on the assessment so that we can get the business to come in. It lasts for a period of time, and when that expires then they go back to the normal total value of the property.”
When computers first came out, there was about an 18 to 24-month period before what you had became obsolete. Now it’s about six months before that happens. The town has been using Windows 2008 server and are looking to purchase a Windows 2016 server software, according to Michael Gamboli, Finance Officer for the town. According to Gamboli, the current company they have is out of Vermont, and the support is pretty much non-existent anymore. “We are in the process of moving our new servers from Windows 2008 server to Windows 2016, which basically gives us an upgrade in software. Clarkstown is currently using this community pass right now they like the software a lot, so that’s why we are moving to it.”
Winters in the north and other areas that experience snowfall wreak havoc with the roads. By the spring, there are potholes, cracks and other hazards that drivers have to dodge in order not to destroy their vehicles. New York State Project 8762.30.301 grants money to the town for resurfacing roads in the unincorporated area of the town. It lists all local roads trying to do within this grant we’ve been going after very aggressively. Last year we did 26 roads. This year we have 20 roads of which some will be included in the grant. They’ve taken a pounding over, I’m going to say the last 4 or 5 winters, so we have been doing this very aggressively and really does look nice,” Phillips reported.
Another area of improvement is the street lights in the town. “We were eligible to pay O&R to convert the rest of those over,” Gamboli said. “Basically this saves us 60% of the kilowatt usage a year—from the vapor sodium lights to the LEDs, which we estimate will save us 15 grand a year.” Gamboli figures that they are going to probably get 60% of the street lights done in one year and they’ll go aggressively after the remainder the following year. They will also be doing 426 street lights at a cost of $169.03 per fixture with O&R’s at a total cost of $72,006.78.
Mother Nature can be pleasant and she can be vicious. Animals in nature can cause many problems for humans. Apparently there is a woodchuck problem in the town of Haverstraw, which is going to require an agreement with Thomas J. Maglaras and Carl Lindsley at a $600 initial set-up cost and $105 per wood chuck caught at Bowline Park. Phillips had some fun with this piece by reciting, “How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?” The motion passed. “I’m laughing about it, but it is a serious problem, especially at our closed landfill, since the woodchucks burrow into the land” Phillips explained. “If they burrow through the liner of the closed landfill, which has been closed now for a number of years, it could cost a few hundred thousand dollars. So that’s one of the reasons we do that. We do it down at Bowline because of the kids running around, and the holes that are created by the woodchucks are dangerous. Kids can actually break a leg running around down at bowline, so it is an important thing that we do.
Another nature problem is Canadian geese. $5,000 is being allocated the Maglaras and Lindsley to control the population of Canadian geese. “Since they have started back and with the effort we’ve done with the border collies, it was getting to the point that at Bowline, the kids couldn’t run around. There was geese feces all over. The kids would run around in the summertime in bare fee. But it is completely reversed. They’re doing an excellent job.
Other money resolutions passed to spend on town activities and safety included $357 for the 2019 season so we can have people perform in the park without infringing upon any copyrights. A proforma resolution with state homeland security program grant will go from 2016 to 2017 in amount of $14,856. The purchase of KBS software for the Town of Haverstraw at cost of $45,000 is for financial software for accounting records, authorizing the supervisor to enter into agreement with KOC for the use of KOC Hall for the Senior Citizens Club at a rate of $7,200 per year. There was also an award of a bid for bus transportation for Haverstraw senior citizens, which will go to the West Point Tours, Trailways and Veils Gate at a cost of $13,060.
Finally, they authorized retention of Richard A. Comi DBA, the Center for Municipal Solutions Consultants, to review a proposal for a cell phone tower at the Thiells-Mt. Ivy Road property.
“We want to have this analyzed and really have this reviewed to do. It’s good to have a professional come in so we know where the coverage is, whether the coverage is needed, and how high this proposed cell tower is. We will enter into an agreement with them as per the terms that are spelled out in the contract,” Phillips said.