Another historic transition for the town was nearly complete by year’s end: the consolidation of all municipal offices in a new location — the 45,000-square-foot former Rosendale Elementary School, located on Lucas Avenue in Cottekill — to be shared with the towns of Marbletown and Rochester. The existing Town Hall on Main Street, the Maple Hill facility housing the Town Court, Police Department, Highway Department and Buildings and Grounds and a rental space now occupied by the Planning, Zoning and Assessor’s offices are all to be vacated by early 2014 and the offices moved into the renovated space. In December town supervisor Jeanne Walsh announced that the New York State Department of State’s Shared Services program had awarded the town a Local Efficiency Grant of $258,930 to finance the conversion of the school building into the new Rondout Community Center.
Though for the most part in 2013, Rosendale was spared the heavy rain events of the years immediately preceding, water-related issues were much on the minds of town officials. Working with the DEC’s subagency concerned with dam safety, the town took significant steps toward the decommissioning of the leaky and no-longer-useful Binnewater Dam, located on the west side of Binnewater Road, just north of Route 213. The town also retained the Albany-based engineering firm Barton and Loguidice, PC to develop a plan to upgrade the town’s aging water supply system and pursue $3 million in combined grant funding and zero-interest loans to undertake the project. In November the town became lead agency on the proposed Water System Improvement Project, which will include repairs to aging water mains on Main Street, Hardenburgh and Snyder Avenues, improvements to the water filtration facility on John Street and reconditioning of the water storage tank on Sand Hill Road.
Meanwhile, the leaky 65-year-old town pool at the Rosendale Recreation Center on Route 32 remained closed for a second summer season while Walsh and other town officials and various concerned citizens pursued funding for its replacement. In July the Town Board accepted a bid of $39,000 from the engineering firm of Weston & Sampson to provide construction documents for the replacement project, which is estimated to cost $1.2 million. In December the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation awarded a grant of $500,000 toward the project.
Rosendale, which prides itself on being an energy-conscious community, took another significant step toward reducing its carbon footprint in December by voting to accept the recommendations of a committee that had spent much of the year conducting a townwide streetlight survey. The assessment concluded that the town could save an estimated $38,000 in annual energy costs by decommissioning up to 26 of its 192 total streetlights and replacing the rest with highly efficient and long-lasting light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures.
Another energy-related effort was less successful: The Town Board voted in April to join a consortium of Hudson Valley municipalities, non-government entities, labor unions, businesses and individuals to oppose the takeover of Central Hudson by the Canadian energy company Fortis, Inc. But the group’s legal challenge against the Public Service Commission’s decision to approve the merger failed in court, and the consequences of this change are yet to be seen.
Walsh and the Town Board encountered little public opposition to their proposed town budget for 2014. The final total appropriation was $4,150,803, with $2,675,956 of that to be raised in taxes. Although this figure represents an increase of only 1.94 percent over the 2013 tax levy, the board voted to override the two-percent tax cap imposed by New York State, in order to maintain a bit of fiscal wiggle room to administer several large state grants expected in the coming year.
The 2013 elections brought some no-brainer outcomes and a few surprises to Rosendale government. Cross-endorsed supervisor Walsh and incumbent Democratic town justice William Pape both ran unopposed, as did incumbent Republican councilman Bob Gallagher in his bid to replace retiring highway superintendent Carl Hornbeck. But Republican Deb Tierney, the former deputy town clerk who was appointed in March to replace retiring 17-year veteran town clerk Joan Jordan, was turned out of that post by a slim margin of votes. Democrat Mandy Constable, a former Justice Court clerk, will be the new town clerk as of January 1.
Of the two expiring terms on the Town Board, Democrat Manna Jo Greene opted not to run for reelection, instead contending successfully against Republican Kevin Hines to represent District 19 in the Ulster County Legislature. Incumbent Ken Hassett did seek reelection, but was defeated, with green Democrats Jen Metzger and Chris Pryslopski taking the two top slots against Hassett and his Republican slatemate Bill Dietz III. Nevertheless, by engineering a complicated series of resignations and appointments during the final Town Board meeting of the year, Walsh ensured Hassett’s continuation on the Board for at least one more year to fill out Gallagher’s unexpired term.