Saugerties Village officials consider second water chestnut harvester

The Saugerties Village Board is considering using a portion of the $194,000 the Village received in Federal American Rescue Plan COVID-19 stimulus funds to purchase a second water chestnut harvester to better control the invasive species in the Esopus Creek.

Village trustee Don Hackett said a new machine would cost around $69,000 with the Town pitching in $12,500. 

Hackett said he wants to give the trustees a month to mull the idea before putting it up for a vote as soon as next month’s Village Board meeting. 

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Speaking during a recent Village Board meeting, trustee Terry Parisian disagreed with using the funding to purchase a second machine. He said he feels the money could be better used to reduce the burden on taxpayers for other needed projects in the Village as opposed to serving a special interest. 

Hackett said the second machine would benefit tourism and residents alike by allowing tourists to enjoy kayaking and other activities in the water while residents enjoy swimming at the Village beach. 

Trustee Vincent Buono asked what the worst outcome would be if the Village stuck with having one machine as it does now. 

Mayor Bill Murphy said with only one machine they’re only treading water and it makes it harder to go up into the portions of the creek in the Town while keeping the area near the beach clear. The mayor added he feels it’s important to maintain the relationship with the Town as they helped to pitch in money to both buy and operate the existing machine. 

“We have a good relationship,” Murphy said. 

Murphy said he feels it makes sense to use the money for something like purchasing this machine because the $194,000 would represent just a drop in the bucket for projects like sewer projects that run into the millions of dollars. 

Village Building Inspector Eyal Saad said it cost about $6,000 in labor and maintenance to operate it last season. 

“The DPW does the maintenance when required, it’s all self-contained,” Saad said. 

Parisian said he could recall the Village just getting by when they weren’t harvesting water chestnuts. 

“There weren’t any invasive species back then,” Hackett said. 

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