It has been an eventful year for the Town of Lloyd, ushering in a new administration led by former county legislator Paul Hansut, who won his first election as town supervisor. The first order of business for the town was to get its roads, sewage treatment plant and eroded riverbanks cleaned up after the devastating infrastructure damage caused by Hurricane Irene and subsequent rain events.
The most impacted of those was the municipal sewage treatment plant located off River Road, which was in the midst of a complete $9 million overhaul when Irene and Lee hit. The contractors were 60 percent through with the work when the two storms wiped the newly constructed plant out. The Twaalfskill River, which runs next to the plant, had flooded its banks and subsequently buried the facility under water, debris, rocks and trees and filling it in, forcing them to start from scratch at a tune of an additional $2.5 million on top of the $9 million. As of now, the work is almost 100 percent complete.
The Town Board this summer faced the retirement of veteran police chief David Ackert, as well as other retirements, and after several interviews voted to hire sergeant Daniel Waage, an 18-year veteran on the force, to become the new chief, with an emphasis on community policing. The board filled other positions through in-house promotion and has decided not to backfill one vacant position.
The Town Board came under heat from dozens of residents who opposed its decision to approve a zoning change that would allow quarter-acre density, instead of the original one-acre zone density, on land owned by David Weinberg near the base of Illinois Mountain, which allowed him to go forward with a plan to build 162 homes on 29 acres. Residents aired concerns that this would create greater stormwater runoff, impact traffic safety and their quality of life, and raise their property taxes, as residential homes pay approximately 75 cents on every $1 that they cost in services. The Town Board said that the zoning change fit in with Lloyd’s Master Plan, and now the development is before the Planning Board.
The Lloyd Town Board and its attorney have been involved in an ongoing discussion and subsequent legal battle to try to bring Vineyard Commons into conformance with the local law that requires the residential complex to rent its units only to individuals 55 years of age and above. Several residents of Vineyards Commons have reported and inspections have shown that there are several units that are rented by people of younger ages with children. This matter is still before the courts.
With one exception, the voters rejected the Lloyd Board’s proposal, put forth originally by Supervisor Hansut, to extend the terms of town supervisor, superintendent of highways and town clerk from two to four years on three separate special referenda this past November. The only term extension that was approved was that of town clerk. The other two went down two-to-one.
On a positive note, the Highland Hamlet has been undergoing a revitalization on several levels — most notably through the work of the Events Committee, chaired by Kate Jonietz, also the confidential secretary to the supervisor. With the help of community volunteers and the support of the Town Board, the committee has brought residents into the hamlet through several inspired events, including a bed race, a kids’ bike race and a Halloween celebration that included businesses morphed into haunted houses, a haunted treasure hunt, a parade, bonfires, decorations and all kinds of fun. They did the same for the Christmas holidays, inviting Santa and Mrs. Claus to town, having the high school choir and band perform, a Nativity scene, storytelling, roasted marshmallows and once again, lighting up the downtown with more than just bulbs, but also greenery, wreaths and hanging baskets that evoked a vintage, small-town holiday season.
Several new businesses have also opened up in the hamlet, as well as Ethan Jackman’s scooter rental along the Hudson Valley Rail Trail near the entrance to the Walkway Over the Hudson. The Walkway, the longest linear elevated pedestrian walkway in the world, was not only host to hundreds of thousands of visitors this year alone, but also was the site of a new Guinness World Record! In June of 2012, as more than 2,500 people of all ages, from the Hudson Valley and even far corners of the world, made a human chain across the 1.28-mile train-trestle-turned-State-Park and danced the Hokey Pokey in sync for five straight minutes, beating the previous record set in 2008 by 2,354 Estonians who had performed a linear folk dance.
One of the greatest achievements for the Town of Lloyd in 2012 has been the complete, state-of-the-art riverfront rehabilitation work at the Bob Shepard Highland Landing Park. The 1.78-acre parcel, purchased by the Town of Lloyd years ago, stretches 750 feet along the Hudson River. With the leadership and tireless energy of resident Matt Smith, the chair of the Landing Park Board, and a $1.2 million Department of State grant, plus more than $1.2 million worth of in-kind donations and services, the Town Board was able to go out to bid. The project was awarded to Arold Construction, which has recently torn out the old pilings and put in a new steel bulkhead, as well as a dock and boat launch that, once it is completed, will be used by local residents, visitors and even cruise ships coming up from New York City.
This was all done without the use of taxpayers’ money, and the multi-phase project calls for the existing brick building on-site to become an environmental education center for use by local schools and river ecology groups. There is also a grassy area with picnic tables that has been used for public gatherings, like watching the Fourth of July firework celebrations on the river that will only continue to enhance the quality of life for the Town of Lloyd. The renovated park is slated to reopen by Spring of 2013.