Notes from the Saugerties Village Board

Weed harvesting, sewer-plant expenditures, and winter parking regulations were the three topics that dominated the village board meeting last week. All three got thorough discussion. 

Village weeds under snow

Zdenek Ulman, aka Z, of Marine Diving Service is considering selling his weed harvester in order to concentrate on diving, his core business, Mayor William Murphy reported at the village board meeting on December 16.
If the company decides to sell, he would offer it to the village first, Murphy said. The machine is only two years old, and Z has given the village a proposal, which Murphy said he would share with the board via email. Does Saugerties government want to go into the weed removal business? What an opportunity!

The proposal will be presented to the town board in January. If the town agrees, the purchase could be eligible for grant money under a shared services grant program, Murphy said. New York Department of State offers grants to encourage municipalities to share services to reduce costs or increase efficiency. 


If the village and town were to purchase the machine, the village could hire an operator for the summer and possibly charge for weed removal services to help defray the cost, Murphy said.
“They want to give us first choice before they put it on the market,” Murphy reported. Marine Diving Services had gained a number of customers in the immediate area because of its work with the village, and “they appreciate the business we gave them.”

However, Z said he had not made a final decision on selling the equipment. The focus necessary to do the job right has pulled him away from his diving business, he said. He said there was “a high demand for this kind of work.”

Murphy said the price of the equipment would be in the neighborhood of $50,000. But that’s negotiable, he added. 

Sewer plant needs upgrade

The Village of Saugerties will have to replace its aging sewer-treatment equipment with newer, more efficient machinery, trustee Donald Hackett said st the village board meeting on December 16. Switching the method for treating sewage would be “a complicated process, a lot of paperwork,” he warned. “It’ll be a few years before this gets off the ground.”

A new rotating biological contactor (RBC) would cost $300,000, Hackett said. How many RBCs does the plant have? DPW superintendent Richard Forbes said there were eight. Trustee Terry Parisian suggested that one of them could be left unreplaced, Because the plant is operating below capacity.  “Why not start phasing in, rather than spending $300,000 right away?” Parisian asked. “If we’re not at capacity, do we really need that RVC?” Hackett responded that the machines had a useful life of 25 to 30 year; Parisian pointed out that a lot of that longevity would be wasted if the machine were replaced within three, or even five or eight years.

Replacing the sewer treatment system would require public hearings, lawyers, engineers, approvals, DEC [state Department of Environmental Conservation] and the Health Department, Hackett said. It would take a long time before a new system could be on line.

Parisian asked whether, given the excess capacity in the sewer system, a new RBC was really necessary.
“Yes, we do need it; we do have to have it,” Hackett replied. 

In another matter related to sewage, Hackett said increased sewer fees take effect January 1. Letters have gone out notifying the users of the system.

Following the meeting, Hackett said the reason the RBC would have to be replaced, even though the village has enough capacity without it, was that the Department of Environmental Conservation required the village to maintain the plant at full capacity. If the board decides to replace the existing system with a more efficient system that does not employ these units, however, the DEC might be persuaded to allow the plant to run with fewer units, given that it is not at full capacity now.

“I had thought we absolutely had to replace that RBC, but when Terry suggested we might be able to run with one less unit a light bulb went off in my head,” Hackett said. Why not try to use a more modern, more efficient system and avoid the cost of breakdowns of the 20-plus-year-old units. Hackett said the RBC was, in its day, the best available technology. No more. The sewer department at this time has no outstanding bonds.

Parking regulations for winter

Mayor William Murphy reminded residents that winter parking regulations went into effect on December 15. Parking is prohibited on village streets from 3 a.m. To 7 a.m.
The rules will be less strictly enforced on parking lots. “I don’t think it’s fair to ticket people for parking in the parking lots if they are going to get ticketed for parking on the street,” said police captain Stephen Filak.

Murphy said the signs banning overnight parking on the village lots will be covered up. This particular government coverup will be welcomed by most taxpayers.

Trustee Terry Parisian said he had questions from constituents who had received tickets over the weekend even though there was no snow. The answer, Murphy said, is that overnight parking is prohibited after December 15..

Filak reminded the board members that the original ban had started on November 15.

Hackett said he would like to see the board empower the mayor to call a snow emergency when appropriate. Murphy responded that a snow emergency was declared by Ulster County during the recent storm. 

Any village law would have to include a means for communicating the regulations to residents, Hackett said. Other trustees suggested social media and local radio stations as a means to transmit the information. It should have been obvious to residents who saw the snow piling up that parking would be banned.