Published October 26, 2005 in Trumansburg Free Press (Trumansburg, NY)

Village Board Meeting

by Bill Chaisson

A precursor stage to the Main Street sidewalk construction has begun, and a large portion of the village meeting on Monday night was given over to discussion of the cascade of events that will occur through the winter and spring. Sue Henninger, the project assistant for the Main Street Project, reported that if plans, specifications and estimates (PS&Es) are completed according to schedule, they will be returned the Department of Transportation (DOT) for final review. The DOT has four weeks to complete this task and will then grant C&S Companies, the engineering firm in charge of the design work, permission to advertise for bids. C&S will then print 20 sets of plans for contractors to examine over at least a four-week period. Plans will also then be available at the village hall and library for interested Trumansburgers to view. Construction is scheduled to start in April 2006 and continue to completion in October.

The excavations in the sidewalk that are now underway in the lower village will seal off and fill “vaults”—disused coal shutes—that are still present in front of some 19th century buildings. In conjunction with this work, NYSEG is also replacing gas lines. According to “clerk of the works” Doug Austic, when the gas & electric company found out that the new paving would be brick, they revised their initial plan to put in 600-800 feet of pipe and will now attempt to stretch their budget and replace everything between Elm Street and the post office. The utility did not relish the thought of digging and then re-laying brick in the future.

Henniger also brought up a request by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that the catch basins in three storm drains be cleaned at regular intervals during the Main Street construction period. In response to questioning by Trustee (and water commissioner) John Hrubos, Bruce Vann, head of the village Department of Public Works, noted that a street cleaner with a vaccum hose could be used to clean the basins. Vann thought that the apparatus could be borrowed through the inter-municipal equipment program. Hrubos promised to resolve the issue and all agreed that the DEC’s request was reasonable.
C&S Companies’ most recent estimate for the entire cost of the Main Street Project, including the water main replacement component, is $980,000.  Mayor John Levine noted that this is greater than previous estimates, but Main Street Project coordinator Scott Sears noted that previous estimates had not included the water main replacement costs. The board of trustees decided to include the “first alternate add-on” in the set of plans that will be presented to bidding contractors. The “add-on” includes street light replacement.

The current estimate for the project means that approximately $400,000 of the cost will be bonded out for the life of the sidewalk, which is formally estimated to be 10 years. Trustee Mary Bouchard objected to the “10-year lifetime”, stating that the sources she had consulted gave sidewalks a 15-year lifetime. Mayor Levine noted that the 10-year $400,000 “mortgage” would raise taxes for each village household by 2%. Using his own tax bill as an example, he said this would cost his family an additional $15 per year.
Trustee Bouchard, in her capacity as youth commissioner, announced the results of a visit from Steve Lauzun of Parkitects Inc., a Lansing skate park designer. The farmer’s market site was judged to be too small, but the pull-off on Route 96—opposite junction with Route 227—was found to be suitable. Bouchard pointed out that the existing traffic noise in the area was certainly greater than any noise generated by skaters.

The final site examined was the location of the old village water tower. At a recent public meeting many Halsey Street neighbors opposed building the skate park there. Bouchard was told, however, by Lauzun that the concrete pad of the old tower could be converted into an ice skating rink if the skate park fixtures were built to be dismantled and stored away in the winter. This may broaden the appeal of the site.

Trustee David Filiberto objected to proceeding with construction of skate park before completion of the village comprehensive plan. Filiberto expressed disapproval of the Route 96 location, “Do we want a skate park to be the first thing that people see as they drive into the village?” His opinion of the Halsey Street location was more positive.

Bouchard insisted that there was a lot of enthusiasm and momentum behind fund-raising and design efforts right now, and it would be a bad idea to tell the young people involved that the project would have to be rolled into the long-term effort to put together a comprehensive plan.  “These young people want to see a skate park while they’re still … young,” Bouchard said. Don Schlather, a member of the village planning board, felt that building the skate park before a comprehensive plan existed was “putting the cart before the horse”, but he admitted he was “reluctant to impede momentum”.

Trustee Hrubos and head of public works Vann reported on their research into a new automatic reading system for the village water meters. The Badger Meter Company is now in the second generation of a technology that allows the reader to use a “remote reading gun” from a passing vehicle. The tool uses weak radio waves and is not dangerous. “They’re measured in milliwatts,” noted Mayor Levine, whose father once worked for the company. Hrubos and Vann estimated that this advance will save over one month of man-hours per year. Twenty-five percent of meters, which are relatively new, can be retrofitted, and older meters can be adapted for the new system. Vann admitted that some village meters are nearly 30 years old and are presently under-counting water use. The meter replacement program will therefore earn more money for the village as well as save it.

The board voted unanimously to make the Badger system the “standard” for the village, a necessary precursor to pursuing the project. The system will cost $70,000, but much of it can be paid for through a grant from a program identified by deputy clerk Karin Lanning. The grant will not pay for the meters themselves, but will cover the remaining $45,000 for software, hardware and training. The application is due December 1 and, if awarded, will start August 1, 2006.

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Last revised:  January 2, 2006