Got a beef with Town Hall? You’re going to have to hold it in for this week at least, if you live in New Paltz. After a long, dramatic buildup propelled by municipal employees’ persistent health woes traced to black mold infestation in the old Town Hall building, the town government finally began moving this past Monday into its new modular digs on Clearwater Road.
The timing for the massive relocation process was touch-and-go; as late as last Thursday evening’s Town Board meeting, the new site’s readiness was still up in the air. “We’re hoping to close Town Hall and do the remediation next week,” said supervisor Susan Zimet, “but there was a glitch today, and the move might be delayed until the first week in December.” She said that if it turned out that the move could not be accomplished this week, the following short Thanksgiving week would be skipped, since it would not allow enough workdays to complete the process.
Buildings and Grounds superintendent Chris Marx went on to explain that, although Central Hudson had been cooperative about installing electrical service more quickly than is usual for new hookups, it was discovered that the voltage needs for the facility had initially been underestimated. An electrical engineer was working to determine whether the utility would be able to install an additional “drop” on the power pole or if it would need to be replaced to accommodate higher-voltage service to the new Town Hall’s switch panel. A decision was expected to be made on Friday. “It’s in Chris’s hands now — or Central Hudson’s,” Zimet said.
But apparently the electrical service issues were resolved at the last minute, because according to an e-mail sent by Supervisor Zimet to the New Paltz Times on Monday afternoon, the big relocation was already underway. It read like an old-fashioned telegram, devoid of punctuation, reflecting the mad rush and crush of moving: “Servpro [the mold remediation contractor] started cleaning files and furniture today/all the employees finished packing Saturday/the building on lockdown now/only the Servpro people can be in there/they will be moving everything this week/have 2 trucks going back and forth.”
Zimet explained at last week’s meeting that staff planned to move one department’s worth of files, furniture, computers and other equipment each day, beginning on Monday with the assessor and ending with the town clerk, supervisor and payroll offices. The most urgent town business will be conducted by employees from home, and this week’s special Town Board meeting to adopt the 2015 budget will go forward at the Community Center behind the old Town Hall. The scheduled date of Thursday, November 20 was changed, however, to Wednesday, November 19, to follow a 5:30 p.m. appearance by Ulster County comptroller Elliott Auerbach.
Auerbach will give a presentation, open to the general public, on his office’s recent report on Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs). Among the report’s recommendations is that the Ulster County IDA adopt guidelines giving heavier weight to municipal government and community concerns before issuing tax abatements like the one currently generating so much controversy in New Paltz for the Wilmorite development.
Relocation of the municipal offices to the new Town Hall site, located on the grounds of the Highway Department facility on Clearwater Road off Route 32 North, is projected for completion by this Friday, November 21, with offices reopening on Monday, November 24. For the latest updates on the move and resumption of municipal services, visit the Town of New Paltz website at www.townofnewpaltz.org.