Saugerties news notes: Coronavirus diligence, West Saugerties traffic, town vehicle-use policy

The Hudson Valley has a low enough coronavirus infection rate that it can allow most types of businesses to reopen. But there are also risks, Saugerties town supervisor Fred Costello warned. “The quarantine is still strong, but it is fraying; We see evidence of that in other states. We have to remain diligent.”

“Under phase 4 things may happen that we will find unsettling,” Costello continued. “We are working with the county health department and other emergency services to ensure that we are doing our part to uphold enforcement of state guidelines.” 

Costello praised the businesses community, saying “we have gotten terrific support.” Businesses have tried to comply with a constantly changing set of guidelines, and “have tried to be good neighbors and sensitive to not only their employees and customers, but also people in the more at-risk community.” Businesses not in compliance with the guidelines came into compliance, and “many of our attempts at enforcement have turned into education sessions.”

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At one point, Costello said, Ulster County was down to one [unused] ventilator. Many families have been split by the disease. People have suffered economically. “That is fresh in our minds, and this battle is certainly not over,” Costello said.

West Saugerties traffic

Traffic on West Saugerties Road, which has increased recently, is making life difficult for residents, said Lauren Marcello Ruberg of Darlene’s Way. People park illegally, a truck turned around on her lawn, and the air quality is horrible, she said. “We’re wondering what can be done.” 

Many of the people on that road have lived there for 40 years, and “year after year there’s just a problem,” she said. “With the mountain road being a scenic byway and with Covid, we have had a massive influx of garbage, eating. It’s not fair.” She cited the potential danger to small children in the area.

Supervisor Fred Costello said at last week’s town board meeting that the town government has made an effort to try to curb traffic by restricting access to the watering holes that make it attractive for people to go and hike. “It’s a difficult challenge, but we’ll be happy to talk to you and see where we can try to coordinate efforts a little bit and see where we can address some of your specific concerns,” he said.

Vehicle-use policy

A lot of what is in the newly approved vehicle-use policy is common sense, but the Saugerties town board thinks that having a detailed written policy is a good idea. Provisions include a minimum age of 18 for anyone driving a town vehicle, an explicit statement that a vehicle an employee is issued to take home on a regular basis is not for personal use, a requirement that anyone driving a town vehicle should not have a driving-while-intoxicated or driving-while-ability-impaired conviction, and conditions for allowing an employee to use a town-owned vehicle for commuting. The board passed the resolution unanimously at its regular July 15 meeting.