Story by Lourice Angie
At the first Village of Greenwood Lake Board of Trustee meeting for the new year on Tues., Jan. 17, the Board handled old business and discussed resolutions that are anticipated to bring about positive changes in the Village throughout the year. Mayor Jesse Dwyer also gave his “State of the Village” address recapping the year of 2016:
“The year began with a $75,000 grant from the Senate for the Waterstone Rd. Sidewalk project. The Village also streamlined payment methods for water customers by accepting credit card payment for water bills. We retained a professional and fully volunteer environment scientist to study the lake and surrounding ecosystem. The Village acquired nearly one full acre of property for $1 from Orange County which will serve as a public park and passive boat launch. We then received a grant over $50,000 to construct that park.
The Village has worked closely with our Community Coalition to fight drug abuse in the community, mostly within our youth population. This year we put on a ‘Stairway to Heroin’ presentation, which was extremely successful and attended by many from within the community. We expanded the hours and activities at the Teen Center and included an art program. Next year, we will have a Teen Center run garden at the Elks Lodge. We put together the first ever Youth League Sports program for the kids in which they interacted with me and members of law enforcement while playing sports.
We’ve seen some great new businesses open around the lake such as: an art studio, Mexican restaurant, Country Grocery’s re-opening, a vape shop, florist, technology company, and of course, the Cove Castle. In addition, we have seen some great investments by existing local businesses to expand their operations, improve their storefronts and grow their businesses. We began sponsoring yoga and zumba at the beach to help our residents get healthy. We brought back ‘Theatre on the Lake’ with a Broadway show at our beach this past summer. This year, we’ll be having a week-long theatre production.
Continuing on the arts and tourism, we found the Hoboken International Film Festival a new home, right here in Greenwood Lake. This past year we played an instrumental role in breaking ground for the Wah Tah Wa Park Natural Gas project – supplying reliable and affordable natural gas to the residents of the park. Toward the end of the year, we received news of another capital project grant – $50,000 to construct a handicap accessible trail system connecting our parklands.
It’s been a very busy and productive year for Greenwood Lake. We, as a Board and administration, have been able to accomplish all this while maintaining a very tight budget. One which we, year after year, can come in at under budget. Just last year, for example, we added over $100,000 to our fund balance by coming in under budget. We continue to find cost saving measures wherever and whenever possible. But never at the expense of the services that our residents have come to rely on. We have found ways to secure grant funding for necessary projects and ensure that our savings will provide the necessary funding for capital projects where there is no grant funding.
This coming year, the Village will be using grant funds to construct new sidewalks on Waterstone Rd. and repair the sidewalks on Windermere Ave. But we will be using the newly established water fund balance to build a new well. Our conscientious management of taxpayer dollars has enabled us to perform this vital capital project without taking on debt and without increasing user fees for our water customers. But let’s be honest, 2016 was by no means a completely smooth ride.
We dealt with a crisis that is being seen all around the nation – lead and copper issues. But, dealing with this issue in a very thorough and steadfast manner, I am proud to announce that the approach we took resulted in reducing lead levels to a point where we are no longer exceeding any health department standards. We continue to deal with copper issues, but lead was really the main concern as that posed a health risk to our residents.
I am very proud of the work we, as a Board and administration have done. The hard work and ideas of many have created a Village that we can all be proud of. There is, however, much work needed to be done and I look forward to doing it as your Mayor.”
During the meeting the Mayor announced that the Board was in the process of putting together the preliminary bid applications and required technical specifications for the major capital project and anticipates having the formal bids to review by the next Board meeting in Feb. Dwyer assures everything is in the works and humorously said, “The new well is moving along well.”
Lead & Copper
Mayor Dwyer was very pleased to report that he received the results for the lead levels in the water. The outcome revealed that the current lead levels were under the Department of Health minimum and considered resolved. Dwyer said that the treatments used proved to be more effective and expeditious than expected. The copper results still show to be above the minimum standards. The Board is working closely with the Department of Health to determine if using soda ash; the chemical also known as sodium carbonate will be an acceptable and effective form of treatment.
Wah Ta Wa Park Natural Gas
Residents in the Wah Ta Wa Park community showed a greater interest in switching to natural gas after witnessing the work that commenced a few months ago within their area. Fortunately for those residents, the Board was able to work out another deal with them very quickly which provided these residents with the option to switch to the more affordable natural gas without incurring any penalties or fees. Approximately 15 additional homes in Wah Ta Wa Park decided to make the switch to natural gas. O&R utilities will continue excavating and paving work throughout the remainder of the month.
Waterstone Rd. Sidewalk Project
Mayor Dwyer said that the Waterstone Rd. Sidewalk project is still on track. However, there’s still no guarantee that the project will commence this year without the proper funding. He is working diligently, along with the help of Attorney John Buckheit and Fusco Engineering, to ensure that State Senator John Bonacic grants them the funds needed in order to proceed with the highly anticipated project.
Windermere Ave. Sidewalks
Now that the Board has a better understanding of what the costs and specifics will be, the project for sidewalks on Windermere Ave. will go out to rebid. Dwyer says the project is on track and anticipates that the work will commence in the Spring of 2017. The entire project will only take about a week to complete.
Retro Basin Replacement
In order to replace or fix any existing issues with the retro basins, first the exact amount of damage or repair needs to be determined. There also needs to be funding. The filters alone cost $8,000, not including the costs of inserts.
As of now Mayor Dwyer acknowledges that something needs to be done about the problem. He is awaiting a final report from the Department of Public Works in order to determine exactly how many need to be replaced. Dwyer says he would like to see the money that was owed and paid back to the Village by the Greenwood Lake Bi-state Commission from the Morahan Grant used to replace the retrofitted catch basin filters.
Should the costs exceed a total of $50,000, there is also the possibility of seeking help for funding from State Senator John Bonacic. Dwyer is continuing to look into the issue and would like the basins to be routinely maintained.
Coalition Teen Center
The Coalition Teen Center has expanded their hours and activities. They offer art from 4 to 6 p.m. for children under 18. The regular Teen Center hours are 6 to 8 p.m. Dwyer announced that with permission from members of the Elks Lodge, the Teen Center will build and care for a small vegetable garden at the lodge.
Parking Fine Schedule
It was recommended by Greenwood Lake Police Chief John Hansen that all parking fines be reviewed and updated. It has been decades since they were last revised. Trustee Thomas Howley met with the Chief to review the proposed fees. The changes are not major, but changes were definitely made says Dwyer. In order for the fees to be enforced and processed in court, first they need to be adopted by a resolution.
The Board has moved forward accordingly with the following changes to the parking violations:
Fire Zone, $100; park left side of street, $40; park 10-feet from corner, $25; park less than 15’ from fire hydrant, $50; park in bus stop zone, $50; all night parking, $50; parking during snow removal, $75; parking in a no parking zone, $50; parked on pavement, $75; parking without permit, $50; parking in handicapped spot first offense, $75; and parking in handicapped spot second offense, $150.
Next Board Meeting Set for Feb. 21
The next Board meeting will take place on Tues., Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the Courthouse, located at 47 Waterstone Rd. in Greenwood Lake.