Historic Hurley is set for a truly historic summer starting this Friday, June 29, when Route 209 traffic from Kingston south into the Rondout Valley towards Ellenville, Port Jervis, and the Delaware River Gap gets rerouted so an aging span across the Esopus Creek near the state trooper barracks gets replaced.
Traffic will be rerouted to scenic, curvaceous Hurley Mountain Road via Route 28 for those headed southbound, and from the hamlet of Hurley on Wynkoop Road across the recently revived bridge over the Esopus there for those headed northbound.
The detour disturbance is scheduled to run through August 31, including Hurley’s traditional Stone House Day celebration on July 14. Many in town are worried that the volume of truck traffic that uses Route 209 will cause new damage to Hurley Mountain Road, along which are several historic stone houses and old farms, including a former one room school house that the 19th century painter Winslow Homer made legendary in his famed “Snap the Whip” masterpiece and an entire body of similar works in the 1870s. There are also worries that many will extend their detours to other routes in and around Hurley, including several straight through the historic hamlet’s center.
Two or four years for supervisor?
Concurrent with the start of the Route 209 bridge rebuilding and two month detour, the Hurley town hall began a roof replacement process this past Monday, June 25.
That evening, the town board met to discuss a number of matters, including a proposal to extend the length of the town supervisor’s term from two to four years. No one commented on the matter, which was then slated for a July 23 public hearing.
Controversy arose when the town board attempted to have a town highway department employee finish his probationary period and the Highway Superintendent objecting that he was in charge or hiring, firing, and disciplining employees of the highway dept, not the town board.
The current town supervisor, John Perry, is a Republican who narrowly defeated former Woodstock supervisor Tracy Kellogg, a Democrat, last autumn. The new highway superintendent is Mike Shultis, a Democrat and former Hurley town supervisor. The makeup of the town board is currently two democrats and three Republicans, including Perry.
The board went into executive session to discuss the employee status that brought the highway department up against the board, even though each runs its own budget.
New Democratic councilperson Mike Boms requested the term extension, which several towns have adopted in the area as a means of providing more continuity for townwide projects.
Perry noted this week that the reasoning is that “a two year term becomes very non-productive to establishing budgeting goals, governing issues that tend to take longer than a year and a half, and the fact that 6 to 8 months from November every other year of a supervisors term for election takes time away from doing my job!”
He added that the contretemps with Shultis was resolved.
“It was a difference of highway law terminology,” he said.
Shultis did not add any comment by press time.