Friday, July 17, 2020

Wells seeks storm damage reimbursements

Wells TB June 8 2020

Wells seeks storm damage reimbursements
WELLS--Municipal Disaster Consultant Ryan Frykholm updated the Wells Town Board at its June 18 meeting on the FEMA reimbursement process.
With the assistance of Supervisor Mauro and Highway Superintendent Earley, 66 damaged sites have been identified and packaged into 32 projects. We were able to take photographs for submission to send to FEMA. He stated FEMA will reimburse 75% of the costs and New York State 12.5%. Due to COVID 19, he feels the State may not be in a position for reimbursement. We are now at the point where some of the projects will need a professional engineer, therefore placing a legal ad for Request For Proposals (RFP) in the newspaper.
The Board reviewed examples Ryan provided from other Towns. He thanked Mark Hodgkins for the work he coordinated on identifying the logs and stumps in the lake which have been entered into the FEMA portal system. We have until December 18, 2020 to complete the removal of logs and stumps. Keith Lauria asked what the timeline is for completing all the damaged sites/projects. Six months, with a possible six-month extension from the State. The Board agreed to the first step of authorizing the Town Clerk to advertise for Engineering Service Contracts, for the duration of 2020, according to specifications on file at the Office of the Town Clerk.
On a motion of Councilperson Hunt, seconded by Councilperson Saltis, the following was APPROVED Ayes 5 Mauro, Crewell, Hunt, Lauria, Saltis
Nays 0:
WHEREAS, The Town of Wells suffered devastating damage because of the storm and flooding that occurred on October 31, 2019 and thereafter (FEMA-DR-4472-NY) and
WHEREAS, the Town Board is currently planning and executing a massive recovery program to repair such damage caused by this storm and to mitigate future damage in the event of similar storms in the future, and
WHEREAS, The Town Board believes it would be beneficial to the Town to hire a Professional Engineering Service, in accordance with specifications on file with the Town Clerk, for the purpose of restoring improved facilities and roadways in the Town of Wells that were damaged by flooding that occurred on October 31, 2019 and
WHEREAS, the Town Board believes that such action is in the best interest of the residents and taxpayers of the Town of Wells, NOW THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Town Clerk and the Town of Wells is hereby Authorized to advertise for Engineering Services Contracts, for the duration of 2020, according to specifications on file at the Office of the Town Clerk, and BE IT FURTHER
RESOLVED, that sealed bids will be received until June 30, 2020 at 12:00 noon and will be officially opened on July 13, 2020 at 7pm, at which time the Town Board may award contract but reserves the right to reject any or all bids.
Prior to approval, Councilperson Hunt asked what the A2650-Sale of Scrap, $18 represented, Sale of tires. Councilperson Lauria asked what the A2701-Refund Prior Year represented, $118.23, Power rebate on Community Hall.
On a motion of Councilperson Hunt, seconded by Councilperson Saltis, the Supervisor’s Monthly Report for May 2020 as delivered and corrected was approved.
Supervisor Mauro reported Revenue was $16,268.90 for the month of May 2020. He will email the Board the Expenditures and year to date figures tomorrow.
Supervisor Mauro shared a document, Reopening New York Guidelines that apply to all lake and ocean beach operations statewide. If the Town beach opens this summer, we would be subject to these guidelines. Some mandatory guidelines are, maximum beach capacity must be reduced to 50% of a normal summer season capacity; ensure six feet distance between individuals; ensure ten feet distance between beach blankets and chairs, except for members of the same household; restrooms must be cleaned and disinfected at least three times daily. He felt the lifeguards could not monitor these mandatory requirements and we would have to hire at least one fulltime person to do so. He is torn over not opening the beach as he is for possibly having to cancel Old Home Days which he is holding out to the last minute, hoping as we potentially reach Phase III or IV we would not have to cancel. The Board decided it was in the Towns best interest not to open the beach this summer. The parking area will be closed, and signs posted “beach closed”.
Supervisor Mauro recalled years ago when he worked for the Town there was a food pantry in the basement of Community Hall, and I am unsure why it closed. He would like to reestablish one and has been in contact with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. Also, a member of the community has donated nonperishable items that were collected from a recent drive by birthday party, a start to stock the shelves. It was mentioned that Speculator has the Loaves and Fishes food pantry but he feels there is a need to have one in our community especially if people do not have a vehicle to travel or in the event a natural disaster occurred. The Board had no objection to starting one.
Mark Ellis spearheaded the construction of the greenhouse which is open for all residents and is located behind the Town offices, across from the Post Office. Interested gardeners should contact Mark at 518-925-4738 to secure a plot for $10 per season.
The Board reviewed the WVAC report for May 2020.
The Board reviewed the Building Code Enforcement Officer’s report for May 2020. Current Building Code Officer, Kevin Helm may consider resigning from the position and will be asked to provide an official letter of resignation. In anticipation, Supervisor Mauro is thinking maybe someone outside of the Town would be a better candidate. He has spoken with the Town of Hope Supervisor, Steve Tomlinson who recommended the Code Officer for Hope and Benson, Mike Sweet. It is unsure at this point if he would consider taking on the Town of Wells.
The Board reviewed the Town of Wells Water Department for May 2020.
The Board reviewed the Highway Superintendent’s Report for May 2020.
Supervisor Mauro said he received a phone call from a Rick Lay, Ex Energy Renewals, Saratoga NY that we the Town was having trouble getting parts for the dam and are interested in selling it. He was told that he received this information from the Town Clerk. His contact information given was 518-522-7425. The Town Clerk said she has never spoken to this individual or any company regarding the dam.
Councilperson Saltis reported that recently Governor Cuomo announced that day camps could open throughout the State, but Summer Rec will not open as discussed and agreed at last month’s meeting. They are working on an on-line based program for children K-7 grades.
Councilperson Hunt asked why there is not a Porto John at the fishing dock. Supervisor said we are not allowed to have them and cannot open the bathrooms. Councilperson Hunt commented that the Stewart’s in Northville has them. Supervisor Mauro will investigate placing one at the fishing dock and one also at the Town Beach.
Supervisor Mauro made everyone aware that this Thursday evening, June 11th there will be parade through Town for the Senior graduating class and encouraged everyone to come out to wave and cheer them on. He thanked the Garden Club for their support and the Highway Department for hanging the Senior banners on the poles along Route 30. A live outdoor graduation will take place on Friday, June 19th at 7pm at school.
Councilperson Lauria reported he attended a virtual Friends of Lake Algonquin meeting last week. Much of the discussion during that meeting regarding the marking of debris was covered tonight in Ryan’s presentation. Supervisor Mauro received calls from residents that were displeased with lowering the lake, claiming it was lowered 4 feet, fish were left dying and there was a terrible odor. Calls were made to DEC by some residents. Supervisor Mauro explained we were well within our guidelines of lowering the lake 2 feet and felt the calls were absurd and untrue. Councilperson Saltis reached out to Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District, they explained about the sources of smell. Detritus was exposed when the lake level dropped. This exposed surface primarily consists of dead/decaying organic matter (fish, insects, animals, vegetation, whatever debris in the lake that settles on to the bottom). If it was out of water it was likely being decomposed at that point by anaerobic bacteria and those bacteria produce odor smelling compounds as a byproduct (hydrogen sulfide, methane, and ammonia).
When the lake is under water and stratified this by product stays in the hypolimnion and is not normally noticed until the lake turns over in the fall allowing all the gas to diffuse into the air. Based on this information, the odor was a natural process caused by decomposition of previously deceased organisms and not fish due to the lake level being lowered.
Councilperson Crewell reported she continues to work with the Highway Department on FEMA reimbursement.
Supervisor Mauro reported that the exterior of the Hydro Plant building has been cleaned up. The brick pedestal that holds the brass plaque that the Town Father’s placed in 1959 is falling apart and will be replaced so the public can see it. Also, patching and painting of the Community Hall ceiling project is completed. Other items he is addressing, clean up the Recycle Building, cleaning the interior of the Hydro Plant building and painting the back steps of the Town office building, a project he will take on himself. And will move forward on establishing the Food Pantry mentioned earlier.
Dan Russell spoke about the large number of vacation rentals in Town and the number of strangers. Other communities in the Adirondacks, i.e. Lake Placid and North Elba cap rentals at a maximum of 90 days. He shared with the Board their Short-Term Rental Program who works with Host Compliance LLC that provide services that streamline short-term rental permit process and support equitable code enforcement. The permit fee is $350 for a two-year period. The Town of North Elba enacted a Short-Term Rental Local Law No. 1 of 2020. He suggested this possibility to regulate short term rentals and generate income for the Town.
Councilperson Lauria commented he does hear complaints of the number of rentals but pointed out that those who rent are spending money in the Town and County. Discussion turned to Code enforcement, Keith Lauria asked why we have such a bad retention rate of holding on to a Code Enforcement Officer. Councilperson Lauria explained the incredible amount of legal liability that falls on that position and not the Town. While we must follow NYS codes, the fact that we have no zoning makes it more difficult to enforce code regulations. Councilperson Crewell said a lot more review and discussion regarding zoning/short term rentals needs to be done. She suggested the Board study the information prior to the next Board Meeting where possibly it be could be a discussion item. Supervisor Mauro added that the Building Code Officer position does not pay a lot of money and at times, almost a full-time job. Again, suggested someone who does multiple Towns may be the way to proceed. Keith Lauria said the potential revenue stream that permit fees would generate could offset a higher salary for a Code Enforcement Officer.
Nancy Livingston said she is concerned about seeing lights on in the Algonquin Motel. She has called the Sheriff and they will be checking the property periodically.
John Margies asked if a decision has been made regarding Old Home Days. Supervisor Mauro said he is holding out a decision right now in hopes of entering Phase II or III soon. Decision will be made by the end of June and announced at the July Board Meeting. He added that the Town Wide Garage will take place on July 16th and 17th with social distancing at the participates private property.
Keith Lauria asked if there is a timeframe on repairing the water main at the bridge as he is experiencing extremely low water pressure. Supervisor Mauro explained that a lot of engineering work is being done to possibly change the location of the water main to the southern side of the bridge for better protection. The low water pressure is not related to the main and he should contact George Paige for inspection.

This article is based upon minutes provided by Maryellen Stofelano, Town Clerk.

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