The Shandaken town board is encouraging residents of the Phoenicia Water District to return the confidential income survey mailed out on December 2 in order to help the town qualify for a grant application to replace an aging water pump. If water resource specialist Candace Balmer does not receive 60 percent of the surveys, she’ll be knocking on Phoenicians’ doors to seek the information in person.
The pump was removed from the 2015 town budget when its cost turned out to be $70,000. The board hired Balmer of RCAP Solutions, a consultant who has obtained grants for the Phoenicia and Pine Hill water districts in the past. The first step, said Balmer at the December 1 town board meeting, is to prove that the town is eligible for a Community Development Block Grant which requires that 51 percent of residents have incomes below a certain level, which would be, for example, $45,000 for a two-person household. The same criteria apply to two other possible grants.
“The way we qualify is to ask for your household income,” explained Balmer. “The responses aren’t published, and the town doesn’t see them. If we apply for a rural development grant, they might list the incomes in order, but it’s not tied to your house or name. We need at least a 60 percent response.” A mailing usually generates a 25 to 50 percent response. If the turnout is poor, a second mailing will go out, and then comes door-to-door canvassing.
The survey is one page long and takes about one minute to fill out, said Balmer. Both full-time and part-time residents are requested to respond, and they should not hesitate if they have higher incomes, since the main hurdle is to get enough responses to qualify. If a house is rented out year-round, the tenants should fill out the survey, not the homeowner. No steps are taken to verify the income reported, and only water district residents will be surveyed.
Balmer hopes Phoenicians will return the surveys as quickly as possible. She’ll be going door to door in mid-December, accompanied by Phoenicia Water Committee chair Alfred Peavy. “We’ll need time to pull in the other elements of the application, so the sooner we get this done, the better,” said Balmer. “It’s not intrusive, and it’s held in confidence. People generally get it — it’s all about keeping your costs down.”
In other Shandaken news:
- Tom Hickey, chair of the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, has resigned. The town board seeks a new board member to replace him.
- Bob Kalb, president of the Shandaken Historical Museum, thanked the town board for a small increase in museum funding in the coming year’s budget. He said the guest book had logged over 300 visitors as of early November, noting that an estimated 20 percent of visitors do not sign in. “We’ve got people asking about genealogy every weekend and people coming for photos,” he said. “Now we have a new computer, WiFi, and new donated cabinets. We just need more money.”
- The board approved the re-zoning of a section of Pine Hill from residential to commercial, pending filing by the state. Also approved was the request for bids on a parcel of land, 100 feet by 100 feet, that is owned but not used by the Pine Hill Water District. Appraisals by town assessor chair Heidi Clark and an independent appraiser averaged out to $4315. Sealed bids must be received by Wednesday, December 30, when they will be opened at the year-end board meeting.
Phoenicia Library closes on the way back to Main Street
On December 4, the Phoenicia Library is shutting down its operations at the temporary location at 9 Ava Maria Drive, where it has resided for five years due to an electrical fire in 2010 that gutted the historic building on Main Street. Staff will spend December setting up in the renovated library and will reopen at 48 Main Street on January 2.
Starting around December 11, the Ava Maria location will reopen as a short-term computer and internet “café,” with volunteers providing access to computers for public use. Days and times, not the same as the library’s usual schedule, will be posted in advance on the website and on the doors of both buildings.
Patrons will not be able to check out books from December 4 to January 1 but may reserve books online for pickup at other local libraries, such as Olive, Pine Hill, or Woodstock. The drop boxes at both Phoenicia locations will remain available for return of checked-out items.
On Saturday, January 17 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., a Grand Opening Party will be held at 48 Main Street, with refreshments and entertainment. For updates and details, see https://phoenicialibrary.org.