Saugerties partners with John Mullen to purchase a weed harvester
Thick green leaves cover the water in the Esopus Creek at its wide point across from the Saugerties village beach. Attempts to remove them over the past years have been only partially successful, with the weeds growing back into cleared areas each summer season.
The latest weapon in the battle for a clear beach area is a weed harvester, purchased jointly by the Village of Saugerties, the Town of Saugerties and John Mullen, a Saugerties-based contractor who owns land along the riverfront. The machine, delivered about two weeks ago, is currently stored in a village building on North Street.
Mullen describes the machine as “a beautiful piece of equipment.”
Village mayor William Murphy began discussions with the machine’s owner, Zdanek Ulman, also known as “Z,” shortly after Ulman’s company, Marine Diving Equipment, harvested just over three acres of weeds for the village at a cost of $5300 and removed weeds at several other properties. Ulman, who said he wanted to concentrate on his main focus, diving, began discussing a possible sale of the equipment to the village.
For a number of years, volunteers have pulled the aquatic invasive species out using rowboats and canoes, with village workers hauling them away. The weeds, water chestnuts and milfoil, appear as a carpet of green across the creek from the village beach.
The machine the village is buying pulls weeds out by the roots rather than cutting them off, reducing their ability to grow back in the next season.
Mullen’s interest in harvesting the weeds stems from property on the Esopus where he is planning to construct high-end homes. “These will be ecological and very beautiful,” he said. When Mullen is using the machine, his employees will operate it, while village employees would operate it at other times.
Village clerk Lisa Mayone said Mullen has submitted plans for his project to the planning board, but its review is in the early stages.
Saugerties town supervisor Fred Costello said the town contributed $25,000 toward the cutter. “I’m sure they will take care of the parts of the creek that are in the town,” he said.
There is no direct evidence that the weed-cutting will bring back the native plants that have been choked out by the weeds, “I’m hoping the plants and fish will return once the milfoil and chestnuts are gone,” Costello said.
Saugerties woman crashes into a house on Market Street
Saugerties police responded to a personal injury car crash on May 26 at 12:39 p.m. The investigation revealed that when 86-year-old Joan Robinson of Saugerties was leaving the drive-thru at the Sawyer Bank on Market Street in the Village of Saugerties, she accelerated and lost control of her 2006 Ford Fusion, which traveled across the road into a house at 88 Market Street.
According to police chief Joseph Sinagra, Robinson’s vehicle and the structure sustained damaged in the collision. Robinson was treated at the scene by paramedics from Diaz Ambulance and transported to the Health Alliance Hospital, Broadway Campus in Kingston for further evaluation.
The Saugerties Fire Department and building inspector assisted at the scene.
Cleaner will disinfect playground for weeks
A biocide that can keep surfaces virus-free for three to four weeks is being applied to surfaces in the children’s playgrounds, town building and grounds supervisor Greg Chorvas reported at the May 20 meeting of the Saugerties town board.
“Viruses, disease, mold, mildew et cetera are unable to survive,” Chorvas said. Playgrounds in the complex have been treated several times already, and “as of last week, we did the third go-round and we’ll be finishing Monday on the satellite parks.” The department tries to keep to a three-week schedule.
The surfaces will be tested after three weeks and again after four weeks to see whether it remains effective. Chorvas also described the regular cleaning process of police cars and other vehicles belonging to the town.
Supervisor lauds Project Resilience
The first phase of Project Resilience has provided meals for many low-income residents of Saugerties and Ulster County as a whole, Saugerties supervisor Fred Costello says. The program provided 1200 meals per day in Saugerties at its peak.
“Pat Ryan [the county executive] had the foresight to secure money that enabled this program to exist during the pandemic,” said Costello. “The program has identified people who remain in need and is moving them to other programs that are more stable and have a longer life.” He praised the volunteers — teachers, members of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and others who made Saugerties “the jewel of the resiliency program in Ulster County.”
Costello also praised hotelier Tom Struzzieri for providing meals free at the Boys and Girls Clubs for residents needing food.
Malden sewer-plant repairs
Town engineer Dennis Larios has reported on the upgrade and repair of the Malden sewer plant, which was built in the 1980s and is showing signs of wear. “
You have a resolution before you tonight to formally award a contract, which is partially covered by the governor’s office for storm recovery,” Larios explained to the town board. “There will be some town responsibility because the project was under budgeted.”
The project will protect the plant from potential flooding of the Hudson River and replace three blowers that provide oxygen to the aeration basins. One of the blowers is gone, and the other two are on their last legs, Larios said. “They’re very noisy. There were complaints from neighbors for the past three or four years about the noise from those blowers.”
The board voted unanimously to appropriate $288,000 toward the cost of the repairs and to award the contract for the work to the low bidder, Evergreen Mountain Contracting of Westkill.
Water Department superintendent Mark Resso has purchased and installed an emergency pump that can kick in when the existing pumps can’t handle the flow, but in the long run the pumps should be replaced.
Parking overflow near Esopus Bend
The popularity of the Esopus Bend nature preserve in Saugerties has led to visitors’ parked cars taking all the available spaces — and then some. Neighbors along Shady Lane and Appletree Drive have complained to town councilwoman Leeanne Thornton that they are being squeezed out.
“The last several weekends, where the weather has been wonderful, we’ve had a great number of people who, just to get out, have been going to Esopus Bend,” Thornton told the town board. “You have real traffic issues, where you have 20 cars tramping on Apple Tree Drive and Shady Lane entrance.”
Neighbors were concerned about the blocking of emergency vehicles and the visitors walking across their lawns, Thornton said she had spoken to [the residents of] five houses and the corner property on Shady.” Paper “no parking” signs were posted temporarily on Apple Tree Drive.
A more permanent fix is needed. Thornton suggested prohibition of parking on one side of Apple Tree Drive.
Supervisor Fred Costello said a permanent solution would require passage of a local law. A public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. on June 17. The hearing will be preceded at 6 p.m. by a hearing on state-mandated changes in the building codes.
Councilman John Schoonmaker said he has noticed the increase in traffic around Esopus Bend Nature Preserve, which used to be a very quiet area. “Now you can go there and the area is filling up,” Schoonmaker said. “I think we should definitely move forward.”
Travis Winchell Day
May is traditionally Police Month, Saugerties town supervisor Fred Costello said at the town board’s regular meeting on May 20. Part of the tradition is honoring police officers who have contributed to public safety and law enforcement. Traditionally, awards are presented at meetings of law-enforcement agencies.
The board voted to honor school resource officer Peter Travis Winchell for his years of service.
The Saugerties schools and the town share an SRO [school resource officer] program. Based at the high school, Winchell serves all the district schools. Officer Winchell had embraced his role as an SRO.
“He has had incredible rapport with the students,” Costello said. “He has truly made a difference in many young folks’ lives.”
The proclamation nominates May 20, 2020 as Travis Winchell Day in the Town of Saugerties. The board voted unanimously to support the proclamation.
Costello touts census
Saugerties town supervisor Fred Costello has reminded residents that 2020 is a census year and that it is important to have an accurate count. “If you have not filled out a census application, please take the time to do so. An accurate count will help us with political representation in the future, so it is very important that every individual participate.”
Costello noted that census forms are not mailed to post-office boxes, so residents of Mount Marion, Glasco or Malden may have to pick them up at a post office or fill them out online. More information can be found on the town’s website, https://townsaugerties.digitaltowpath.org:10234/content, which has a link to a U.S. Census site, https://go.usa.gov/xdK8m.
Food pantry open Tuesdays
The Saugerties Food Pantry is open on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Social distancing is practiced. The pantry is at 44 Livingston Street in Saugerties. For information, visit www.saugertiesfoodpantry.com.