Earlier this month, the Ulster Town Board voted unanimously to authorize Supervisor James E. Quigley, III to negotiate the cancellation of a contract for stormwater improvements after a Katrine Lane resident declined to give permission to conduct work on his property.
The resolution came up during a meeting of the Town Board held on Thursday, August 3, with the town opting to dissolve their $159,875 contract with Hubbell, Inc. of Margaretville. Prior to the bid process, the town secured $40,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to cover the engineering and design costs associated with the project.
But after discussions with the attorney for Art Boice of 76 Katrine Lane, town officials decided to pull the plug on the project.
According to Quigley, the issue is decades old, exacerbated by the arrival of the Miron Home Center at 2001 Ulster Avenue in the mid-1960s.
“There is a natural stream that comes down off of Route 9W and the hill that’s to the east of it,” Quigley said, adding that water that previously seeped into the ground ran off the paved, impervious surface into the stream, passing below CSX railroad tracks.
“CSX has not been diligent in maintaining the culvert pipe and keeping it clean so the water could flow,” Quigley said. “The water eventually backed up. And erosion on the west side of the (stream) begins and continues over time.”
In 2021, Central Hudson bought the former Miron Property and began conducting renovations using stormwater guidelines that evolved in the decades since the property was first paved, including requiring that stormwater must remain onsite in retention ponds. Quigley said that in August 2021, heavy rain drenched the area while Central Hudson was still redeveloping the property.
“In five hours, the pond overflowed, flowed north and went through another culvert that was on the north end that discharged on Glenerie Boulevard,” Quigley said. “And additionally, because of the height of the water, it started to seep through the railroad tracks. And the amount of water that was making its way through the culvert was increasing the erosion.”
That erosion, Quigley said, led to the removal of a large oak tree by Central Hudson after it was determined it might fall onto Boice’s house. Meanwhile, the town engaged an engineering firm to come up with a solution to address the erosion, and after awarding the construction project to Hubbell, discovered that Boice had sued Central Hudson for damage on his property. Quigley added that Boice refused to sign an easement allowing the town to conduct the erosion improvements, and in another conversation was notified by Boice’s attorney that he might sue the town.
“And at that point in time, I said we’re not dealing with this anymore,” Quigley said. “If he wants to be litigious, we’re not dealing with it.”
With Hubbell unable to begin work, the contractor and town are currently negotiating a settlement.
“The contractor came back to us and said, look, if you’re not going to do the job, let’s settle up,” Quigley said. “He spent $16,000 mobilizing for this job. So the town has a liability of $16,000 to the contractor. The resolution basically gave the town supervisor authorization to negotiate a settlement and a breakage fee for the contract that we obligated the town to enter into with the contract.”
At the August 3 meeting, Deputy Supervisor Clayton Van Kleeck lamented the need to cancel the project.
“We put a lot of work into resolving this problem and bringing parties together, and this is going to cost the town a lot of money for nothing now,” Van Kleeck said.
Boice could not be reached for comment.
The next meeting of the Ulster Town Board is scheduled for Thursday, August 17.