The Woodstock Town Board unanimously approved bonding for installation of reed beds that will make the wastewater treatment plant more environmentally friendly and save the town up to $50,000 per year. “We will not be shipping our sludge up to Albany any longer,” said Councilwoman Cathy Magarelli, who considers the project one of the board’s major accomplishments.
Most of the official action on the project involved the marathon session of reading the required legalese during the public meeting on May 16.
The town will install two beds of phragmites, or reeds, which increase oxygen levels in the sludge exiting the treatment plant. In turn, microorganisms grow on the roots and digest the sludge, which is also drained of water as it percolates through the beds.
In the worst-case scenario, the end-result will be taken to a landfill, where it is used as capping material, Supervisor Bill McKenna said. There is a disposal charge, but it is much less than the trucking costs of $40,000 to $50,000 per year. In the best-case scenario, it may be clean enough to be used as topsoil, McKenna said.
The maintenance is minimal, involving periodic trimming of the reeds and, after several years, excavating everything down to the roots and letting the bed regrow.
The reed beds are estimated to cost $500,000. Of that the town plans to issue bonds for $380,000 and the $120,000 remainder will come from a capital reserve fund.
The bonded amount may be reduced if more money comes in the form of grants or aid. McKenna said he will work with the financing companies so that there is no early payment penalty if more money comes in after the bonds are issued.
The board had proposed reed beds several years ago, but the state Department of Environmental Conservation halted the project because the reeds it proposed to use were considered an invasive species.
McKenna said he hopes construction will start in the fall.
New ethics law passes
The board unanimously passed a revised ethics law, something that was years in the working. The major changes involve the monetary value of items that can be received by town officials and which political campaigns are off-limits to Ethics Board members.
McKenna said there were probably 15 different versions of the proposed ethics law on the supervisor’s computer and he thanked the Ethics Board for helping him sort out all the revisions.
“No Town officer or employee shall directly or indirectly solicit any gift, nor accept or receive a gift (or multiple gifts from the same donor, or group of affiliated donors, in a single calendar year), having an aggregate value of $50.00 or more,” states the new law. This section is in effect when the item is intended to influence the official or when it is intended as a reward.
Also new in the law are prohibitions against any Ethics Board member campaigning for any elected town official. They may make donations to those campaigns but cannot publicly express their support. This prohibition was added because members felt the Ethics Board is a quasi-judicial body, so it shouldn’t be publicly expressing support for those who may come before them.
Shared services codified
The board unanimously passed a resolution formalizing a long-established shared-services agreement between Hurley, Town and City of Kingston, Esopus, Town and Village of Saugerties, Ulster, Olive and Shandaken. The agreement mainly covers the sharing of highway and other equipment.
The town passed the resolution partly to show Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is pushing for more shared services, that many towns already cooperate in many ways.
“These are all things that we’re doing already,” McKenna said.
The bill for cleaning a particular piece of equipment recently came to $4,000, but since it is shared by four towns, Woodstock’s share of the bill was only $1,000, Councilman Jay Wenk noted.
Jeremy Wilber memorial
The board unanimously approved the establishment of a trust and agency account to accept donations for a memorial to former Supervisor Jeremy Wilber to be constructed near the supervisor’s cottage on the Comeau Preserve.
The memorial will consist of an upright piece of bluestone with water cascading over it and into a small reflecting pool. The water will then be recycled and pumped back over the bluestone.
Councilman Richard Heppner estimates it will cost “a few thousand dollars,” which will all come from donations. No taxpayer money will be used.
Heroin treatment assistance program honored
McKenna presented Police Chief Clayton Keefe with a certificate honoring the town for receiving the Pride of Ulster County award for the Woodstock Outreach Initiative. The program, part of the Gloucester, Mass., based Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative (PAARI) provides resources for those facing addiction. Anyone seeking treatment can walk into the police station, where they can be placed at a treatment facility without facing arrest on drug charges.
“It wasn’t just me,” Keefe said. “It was the Town Board. It was the community.”
Keefe pointed out the program is not limited to Woodstock residents and, in fact, has helped people from other communities.
Both Keefe and McKenna also cited the hard work of Kassandra Quednau and Shayna Micucci, who worked with the police and Town Board to establish the program and provide training for police and dispatch staff and volunteers.
Woodstock Dems endorse candidates
The Woodstock Democratic Committee has endorsed its slate of candidates for town and county offices. According to committee chair Laura Ricci, the following candidates have come before the Woodstock Democratic Committee (WDC) and will have WDC help in getting their petitions signed.
Town Supervisor — Bill McKenna
Town Board — Richard Heppner, Lorin Rose
Town Justice — Richard Husted
County Legislature — Jonathan Heppner
County Comptroller — Elliott Auerbach
Each candidate will begin gathering signatures in June to be on the ballot for the September 12 Primary.
Citizens should understand, though, that anyone can get petitions, obtain the requisite number of signatures and compete in the September 12 primary. The endorsement of the committee does not guarantee any of the candidates a spot on any ballot.