Paul Hansut will be sworn in for his third term as Lloyd town supervisor on January 6, in a ceremony which will take place, as tradition dictates, at the firehouse. It was perhaps the most challenging election that Hansut has faced since he first ran for the position in 2011, with the difference in votes between him and challenger Claire Winslow close enough that it couldn’t be called without checking the absentee ballots. Nevertheless, a win is a win, and Hansut is ready for the next year, during which he expects to focus on a number of challenges dealing with infrastructure, expanding opportunities for business and jobs and doing so within the constraints of the state-imposed tax cap.
“Folks are not happy with the new residential housing,” Hansut acknowledged; his opponent’s campaign was built largely on that discontent. The supervisor believes some of those feelings stem from outright misinformation, but that doesn’t mean he’s dismissing the concerns out of hand. For starters, expect it to be easier for members of the public to get information about the Planning Board’s work to minimize those inaccuracies; Hansut mentioned livestreaming of meetings specifically, and more generally spoke of “getting more information” to residents. Board chairman Scott Saso has already submitted his resignation, and Hansut said he is considering replacing him with Dave Plavchak, who ran unsuccessfully for a Town Board position in November. Saso came under fire regarding one project in particular, Trailview Place on Toc Drive, where he is the builder and vice-chairman Brad Scott Sr. is father of the developer. Both men recused themselves when the plans were being reviewed, and Hansut has pointed to that decision as evidence that neither did anything inappropriate.
One thing that made the development on Toc Drive problematic is the fact that the planned residential development zone, or PRD, that it’s in doesn’t have any setback requirements, and as a result neighbor Ruth Dapp found three-story buildings being erected quite close behind her modest home. In response, the PRD zoning itself could be changed this year. “We’re going to revisit the PRD because of public concerns,” Hansut said.
Another reason why development on and near Toc Drive is worrisome to neighbors is the oddball intersection of Toc with Vineyard and Tillson avenues. Tillson joins the other two at an angle, and the fear is that increased traffic volume will make it a more dangerous spot. The good news is that there is a plan to straighten Tillson out, and the right-of-way needed to do so should be acquired by the summer. While the supervisor will be pleased to see the intersection aligned as a four-way, he isn’t satisfied that the state DOT plan only calls for stop signs. “I’ll continue to push for a light,” he said.
Regarding the Hudson Valley Wine Village project proposed for 432 acres at the end of Blue Point Road, Hansut still has hope that ground will be broken this year. The mixed-use development has hinged in part on hopes that state grants would provide money to extend water and sewer to the parcel, and if that isn’t approved, developers will have to find an alternative, because Hansut promises that it won’t be paid for by town taxpayers.
Unlike zoning rules, infrastructure problems are often out of sight and mind until they dramatically become visible. That’s what happened on Vineyard Avenue in late November, when the water main buried there developed a crack 137 feet long. Hansut has several ideas to prevent future problems, or at least minimize the impact they have on users. In March a new mapping project will begin identifying the location of every valve in the system, so as to make shutting off a problem area for repairs easier. The board may have seemed prescient when it approved a $1.7 million plan to upgrade various water infrastructure elements, because soon afterwards the system’s levels of THMs — compounds associated with cancer that can develop in sun-warmed water — crept high enough to warrant a notice for the first time. “Micro-filtration would preclude the problems with THMs,” the supervisor said. However, that’s not something which is being paid for in the current project, as it will likely run into millions of dollars to install such a system. A mixing unit will be put into the storage tank to keep the water flowing, thereby reducing the risk, and plans are being developed for micro-filtration, but finding ways to do so without crushing district’s users with the debt is the big challenge.
Concerns over how much taxpayers can bear also drove the decision to focus on repairing the existing Town Hall’s problems, rather than considering building anew. One of the most visible projects is the replacement of the walkway from the parking lot to the second floor entrance outside of the justice court, but the courtroom itself has also been redone, as well as the stairway accessing it. “We hope it will buy us some time” for the building, the supervisor said.
If water and sewer systems can achieve the same level of grants that have been awarded to rail trail projects, concerns over financing might be eased on that score. The western extension that will run to the fire house will be achieved without additional borrowing due to outside funding, including $50,000 thanks to Assemblyman Frank Skartados, and $100,000 from not-for-profit Scenic Hudson. Another leg of that journey was announced in September, and will bring the trail from New Paltz Road along Route 299 to South Street, but that work won’t happen until 2017.
Hansut also wants to work with Highway Superintendent Richard Klotz on a five-to-seven-year plan that will look at sidewalk and road maintenance and improvement overall.
On the down side, the supervisor said he was “shocked” by the number of foreclosures in the town right now, and he remains concerned that the combination of tax cap and unfunded mandates from the state will put Lloyd in an impossible position, and soon, if the situation doesn’t change.
More upbeat, however, is what’s going on in the hamlet of Highland. “Every storefront is full,” Hansut said, with younger people opening up businesses like Underground Coffee & Ales, “taking a chance” by opening up shop in Lloyd. Larger businesses continue to flourish as well: Servpro is opening a facility on Lumen Lane next to Selex, where operations will be expanding. Zumtobel will be staying put, which the supervisor said was the result of working “hand in hand” with executives there to save some 200 jobs.
In short, Lloyd residents should know that their supervisor is listening to their concerns, and that they should expect a lot of news about the town in 2016.