The Shandaken Historical Museum in Pine Hill, the main repository for local history, is in dire need of repairs, museum board member Doris Nieves reported at the April 2 Shandaken town board meeting. Nieves asked the board to address the numerous code violations and safety issues plaguing the town-owned building.
“The front steps are uneven, and there’s no railing,” she said. “A pine tree in the front needs to be cut down. The exit lights are without batteries, and there’s no hot water in the building. We need a dehumidifier. There are no gutters. We need energy-efficient lighting because the lighting fixtures are old and sucking up a lot of energy. Our director, who is very hard-working, does everything from cleaning to research, and she’s underpaid. We want to save the building, which is critical for the history of the town.”
The museum, established in 1989, is housed in the former School District No. 10 Building, a 1925 structure appearing on the National Register of Historical Places. In addition to displays of vintage items, from spinning wheels to barrel hoops to school desks, the museum stores photographs of the hamlets and their residents, newspaper clippings, genealogical data, information on 19th- and 20th-century boarding houses, and narratives of local history. The museum, located off Academy Street in Pine Hill, is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free.
Town supervisor Rob Stanley said he would send someone to the museum to assess the issues and estimate how much it will cost to fix them.
Other actions taken at the meeting, which lasted half an hour, included:
- Extending the local law that gives property tax relief to Cold War veterans.
- The board approved the one bid received from a contractor to landscape around two large welcome signs at town entrances, in addition to putting up solar-powered illumination for the signs.
- April was declared Parkinson’s Awareness Month in the Town of Shandaken, in an effort to focus attention on “the need for more research and help in dealing with the devastating effects” of the neurological disease.
- The board voted to send a corrective action plan in response to minor errors discovered in the recent audit by the state comptroller’s office. Stanley said the errors had to do with timekeeping, benefits, and sick time, and how they are how accrued and maintained. He attributed the discrepancies to multiple turnover and transfer of secretaries in the various town offices over the past year.
- Town board member Kevin Van Blarcum, who is in charge of installing new playground equipment in the town parks, put out a call for volunteers to help with assembly and installation once the snow is gone and the ground is thoroughly thawed. Call the town hall at 845-688-5004 to volunteer.
- The town is still seeking a replacement for building inspector Warren Tutt, who has moved on to another job. Advertising has to begin with the county’s list of civil servants, which yielded two inquiries, but the people expressing interest did not return calls. If they fail to respond to a final call, the town will advertise the position to the general public. A new inspector can start working provisionally until training is completed.
- Town clerk Joyce Grant announced that brush burning is banned until May 15, although campfires are allowed. After that point, a free permit is required, obtainable from her office, for burning yard debris. Burning of processed wood, plastic, and garbage is banned at all times.
- Grant said the Department of Motor Vehicles bus will now be parked outside the town hall only once a month, on the first Friday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Staff on the bus can handle routine renewals, registrations, and other procedures, without a trip to the county office building in Kingston.
- As the town information officer, Grant pointed out that local events are posted on Town of Shandaken Facebook page and on the town website, http://www.shandaken.us/. “And if you don’t go online, call me, and I’ll read them to you,” she added.