Saugerties Village Trustee Donald Hackett said Village and Town officials are looking into pooling funding into purchasing a second water chestnut harvester as they continue to work to uproot the invasive weed from the Esopus Creek.
Hackett said officials are looking into two options for a second harvester, purchased jointly by the Town and Village, that’s been out on the Creek four to five days a week since May. He said he’s looking into two different machines — one similar to the harvester they already have, or an enhanced model.
He said he did not know yet how much each option would cost and said an agreement to purchase a second harvester would require both the Town and Village to find room in their budgets and for their respective boards to vote to approve the purchase of the machine. He added that grants are another possibility to offset the cost.
Hackett said Town Supervisor Fred Costello expressed support for purchasing a second harvester at a recent meeting between Town and Village officials and Village Building Inspector Eyal Saad. At that meeting, Saad presented a number of aerial shots showing the progress of the harvesting efforts this year.
He said Village officials have fielded numerous calls from residents questioning when the machine is going to come near their section of the Creek, often when the machine is hard at work on another part of the Creek.
Hackett admitted it can be slow going up the Creek. “It has a little Honda engine like a lawn mower, it’s mostly hydraulic. It only goes 3 mph. And then it can fill up after as little as 20 minutes at work.
Hackett said the meeting between Saad and Village and Town officials was very productive and officials agreed that operating the harvester in the Hudson River at Malden where water chestnuts have cropped up this year is a terrible idea. “You’d have to steam clean it every time and you’d risk possibly spreading more invasive species.”
“The Hudson should be the responsibility of the Coast Guard or the Army Corps of Engineers,” Village Mayor Bill Murphy said.
“We should concentrate on the Creek,” Hackett added.