In these times when “aging infrastructure” is the common bugbear of municipal officials across the land, it must feel good to know that you’ve managed to put the bulk of your town’s problematic century-old sewer and water systems, roads and bridges behind you. Rosendale town supervisor Jeanne Walsh finds herself in that rare position these days, thanks in part to ample grant resources flowing from the New York Rising program in the wake of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
But it takes a lot of work, both to secure the funding and to make those big fixes happen. And Walsh isn’t the sort of administrator to sit back on her laurels and take a year off once most of that work is completed. For 2018, she’s already setting her sights on the potential to attract new businesses that is being opened up by the recent addition of Economic Enterprise Overlay Districts to Rosendale’s Zoning Code. “I would like to see improved economic development along the Route 32 corridor. I’d like to help our businesses do better,” she says.
Some economic stimulus is already coming from the infrastructure improvements that have been happening in the town over the past few years. The completion of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail link from New Paltz to Kingston via the repair of the Rondout trestle means that more active tourists are being attracted to Rosendale, and downtown businesses naturally want those visitors to linger a while and spend some money. Several strategies are being pursued to increase the likelihood of that happening.
For one thing, folks who come from out-of-town to hike or ride their bikes might feel the need to shower and change before they kick back for a beer or a dinner or a movie. The renovations currently happening at the bathhouse beside the new Rosendale Pool include facilities specifically geared toward non-locals. “The pool is completely done; the bathhouse is an ongoing process. My expectation is that it will be completed by the summer. We kept the showers, and we’re putting an addition on it, with all new fixtures,” Walsh explains. “Once the pool season is over, we’ll leave one bathroom and showers open, for people who are going to a park or the rail trail and looking for a place to clean up after recreation.” Also at the pool complex, the old Snack Shack has been torn down, and a former maintenance building is being renovated into a new Snack Shack, according to the supervisor.
Another project still in process that will make the town more welcoming to tourists is called Finding Rosendale. Following the completion of a circulation and wayfinding study in 2015, the town undertook to put up new signage, visually coordinated around a trestle theme, that will make it easier for visitors to find their way around while reinforcing Rosendale’s “brand.” A footbridge was recently rebuilt by the Army Corps of Engineers behind Central Avenue in the Washington Park neighborhood, and another one is soon to be constructed behind Stewart’s, both connecting to the old D & H Canal towpath leading eastward from Willow Kiln Park.
“We’re hoping to start the James Street project soon,” says Walsh, referring to a New York Rising project funded to repair flood damage on the lower portion of that roadway in the hamlet, which follows the south bank of the Rondout. “They’ll be putting in riprap along the creek wall to stabilize it, and replace the stormwater drains that come down from Parkcrest and the Rec Center to the Rondout.” The finishing touches on that project will involve widening the one-way portion of James Street, between Madeline Lane and Route 32, and creating a pedestrian pathway with a guardrail. Trees and benches will be installed to create a linear park. Walsh envisions the Main Street/James Street loop becoming a popular route for walkers.
In addition to all the public amenities, there’s still considerable work left to be done in 2018 on Rosendale’s less glamorous infrastructure projects. Main Street’s antique water main has been replaced and the street repaved; improvements to the water filtration plant have likewise been completed. But the last part of the Water District work is just getting underway: “The water meters have arrived. Every home is getting one; every business is getting one. We got permission for them to be installed by Town of Rosendale employees. They’ll get overtime, and it’ll save taxpayers over $100,000. So it’s a win/win on both sides.” Walsh anticipates that it will take up to 40 weeks to install all the new “smart” meters.
Still to come is the sewage treatment plant project, with the town planning a January closing on a zero-interest loan from the Environmental Facilities Corporation to be combined with a New York Rising grant. Rosendale just received an additional grant of $100,000 to do an Inflow and Infiltration study, which will help identify trouble spots where stormwater gets into the sewage lines and causes the plant to back up during heavy weather events. “We’re also getting new generators for the sewer plant and the lift station on James Street,” Walsh says. “So there will not be an emergency every time the power goes out.”
The supervisor will have one new Town Board member to work with come January: Matt Igoe, who is replacing Frank Klepeis. “I’ll miss Frank, but I think Matt’s going to be a good addition,” Walsh says. “He’s eager to work, ready to dig in. He’s a farmer, so we’ll see how he’s going to be able to help that way…. I’ll be open to his suggestions and see what he has in mind.”
Walsh is quick to give credit to her fellow council members: “We have a very efficient board. We tackle our problems as a group; we put our heads together and problem-solve.” Sounds like the watchword for 2018 will be, “Steady as she goes.”