Notes from the Saugerties Village Board

Some residents may have seen what appeared to be a bank holdup last Tuesday at the Sawyer Savings Bank, Explained police chief Joseph Sinagra, “The police robbed the Sawyer Savings Bank.” In his report to the village board on January 21, Sinagra said the apparent holdup was a training exercise that the bank had requested. 

“The bank brought all their people in, and we spent three hours,” said Sinagra. “It was instructional, and there was hands-on using weapons with blanks. We did a couple of bank robberies and active shooter incidents with bank employees.”

The police would be offering the program to other local businesses, he told the board. Mayor William Murphy said he had passed by and seen the action in the bank, and “I wondered what was going on,” he said. The training was “well received” by the bank employees,” Sinagra said.In other police business reported to the village board, Sinagra said  that the Saugerties Police Department is now “an opioid prevention program provider.” Dr. Ricardo Esposito is its clinical partner.“The police will have Narcan [a medication used to treat an overdose of opioid drugs] on hand to treat overdoses, and individuals can obtain the substance after taking a short course in using it,” the police chief said. “Classes will be conducted on a regular basis in the village and the town. We will have several officers who will be instructors, and if anybody stops by and says, ‘I need to get Narcan,’ we can train them right on the spot.”

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On February 8 and 22 the police department will be putting on a CPR class from 10 a.m. To 3 p.m. At the Senior Center. “Those classes book really fast,” Sinagra said. “We will be working with Diaz Ambulance going forward in providing the CPR classes.”

In order to make a visit to the village a more pleasant experience and cut down on nuisance crime, the police will be dispatching plainclothes officers on the weekends , when bars are mostly active, with an emphasis on patrolling around the bars, the chief said. The tactical enforcement details units will be out on weekends to deal with low-level crime. 

“We had issues with people urinating in doorways, urinating on the streets, urinating on buildings,” explained Sinagra. “We want to curtail that as much as possible , so when people come to the village they have an enjoyable experience.” 

Bike patrols will be out on First Fridays in addition to walking officers. Sinagra was pleased with last year’s results. “It went over well,” he said. “We had a really positive response last year to bike patrols, so you will see them out there more frequently.”

Pedestrian safety has been a police concern, Sinagra said. “This really kills me. We were doing so good up to 2019. In 2013 we had fourteen people that were struck by automobiles. We dropped that down to 50 percent in 2014 when we started our pedestrian safety program, and we cut it all the way back to where in 2018 we were down to one pedestrian that was struck. 

“In 2019 we had a total of seven people that were struck by automobiles. So we’re going to have to put the pressure on again; I know it wasn’t very popular, but it seemed to really help curtail the problem. People are forgetting again, so we are going to have to increase pedestrian safety efforts.”

Sewer plant needs repairs

Village wastewater department superintendent Alphonse “Mike” Marino’s report to the village board contained a list of machinery that needed repairs, or has been repaired in the past month, including a Bobcat and belt press (“cleaned many times, it may be time to replace the belts”). 

The 40-year-old main gate control system has had electrical problems, and parts to repair it are no longer available. “To replace and upgrade the control system would cost an estimated $7000. Looks like when the control system finally cannot be repaired by this department, we will have to open and close the gate by hand,” Marino report stated.

The biggest expense will be the RBC [rotating biological contractor], a $300,000 replacement, Marino said. A repair expert told Marino the unit cannot be repaired because the shaft is square, and the company that manufactures the units has gone out of business. The replacement cost is $300,000. 

While the board has discussed switching to a different, more modern and efficient process, Marino explained that the state Department of Environmental Conservation has approved the system that is now in place. “You would have to get new permits from the DEC, and that could take forever,” Marino said.

The plant has eight RBC units. While it is operating below its maximum capacity, “you can’t run on seven,” trustee Donald Hackett said.

The system is set up with two trains of four RBC units, Marino said. The lead unit gets the most stress, so this is the unit that goes. The unit on one of the systems was changed two years ago, so it should be in good shape, he said.

Trustee Jeff Helmuth asked whether the shaft in the unit, which is the part that failed, could be fabricated as a replacement. The 30-foot-long shaft, which is square, would have to be perfectly balanced, and any welds would throw it off, Marino explained.

Could one or more of the other units break down in the near future? Marino said he does not think so, because the lead units take the greatest stress, and the others are under less pressure, so they are less likely to break down. 

Mayor William Murphy suggested that if the units could be rotated, so the same units were not always in the most stressed positions, the wear could be spread among the units, rather than two units handling all the stress. “You would have to have a crane to do it,” Marino said. 

The machines have been popular because of their simplicity, but the square shaft has been an ongoing problem, Marino said.

An employee in the department who was injured in a vehicle accident on December 11 will be out of work until further notice, the report states.

Environmental award for Saugerties

The Village of Saugerties has been selected for the New York Water Environment Association’s sustainability award, While the award is presented by a water environmental organization, it recognizes the efforts of village personnel across the board, according to the letter from Robert E. Wither, PE, the organization’s president. 

“This award honors an organization that has instituted policies and practices recognizing the need for long-term preservation of assets, human capital and natural resources while satisfying present-day needs, societal goals, and its environmental mandate. The award recognizes sustainable triple-bottom-line decisionmaking at all levels and departments.”

Water superintendent Mike Hopf said the award was “a great honor for the village.”

The award will be presented at the annual meeting of the NYWEA on February 5, the letter states. Hopf will be joined by code enforcement officer Eyal Saad at the awards ceremony, Hopf said. 

Trustee Jeff Helmuth agreed the award was “a very big deal.” 

Water, sewer fee increases

The Saugerties water and sewer departments are seeking a two percent increase in fees for water and sewer services, water superintent Mike Hopf said. As of August 1, 2020, the minimum charge will increase to $96.85. This is the charge for users of the basic quantity of water, with additional charges for more than the basic.

 The fee to residents outside the village would be $162.12. This would increase to $98.79 for villagers and $165.36 in 2021; $100.76 village and $168.67 respectively in 2022, and finally reaching $104.83 in the village and $175.48 for the town outside the village. The current charge for village residents is $94.95 for village residents.

The additional money is needed to cover storm damage, including debris that hurricanes have deposited in the reservoirs; repairs at the water plant, flushing lines and other repairs following hurricanes and so on.

Trustee Terry Parisian asked whether the water prices will be kept at the same two-percent state guideline as property taxes. While utility charges were not capped at the lesser of two percent, or the increase in the consumer price index as are tax levies, it would make sense to maintain a similar increase in these services, Pariaian said. He noted that the increases were compounded each year, meaning that the actual increase over time was higher than the nominal figure.

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