Truck traffic to be diverted from downtown Sugar Loaf

Chester. Becker steps down from Ethics Board after citizen inquiry.

| 02 Apr 2024 | 01:23

At the March 27 Chester Town Board meeting, a local law enforcing a five-ton weight limit for vehicles traveling on Kings Highway in Sugar Loaf was passed. Large trucks, unless delivering to local stores, will be required to drive on the Kings Highway Bypass, instead of going through downtown. The bypass connects to Bellvale Road, where trucks can turn and then meet up with Kings Highway without passing through downtown.

The town board will work with the Highway Department to get proper signage put up, board members said. Supervisor Brandon Holdridge added, “I am very happy we are making good on these improvements.”

Ethics concerns

In other news, Cindy Smith has won her war. During the previous two board meetings the Chester resident had spoken during public comments and challenged Councilman Tom Becker’s place on the Town Board of Ethics, as the town law states elected officials cannot serve on the Ethics Board.

At the last meeting, Supervisor Holdridge said town attorneys had advised that Becker could serve but they would review the matter again. After the new review of town law, Councilman Becker has stepped down from the Ethics Board. The town is seeking a new candidate to replace him.

EMS tax district

The town board took the next step in establishing a tax district for the EMS service, authorizing the town attorney to write an RFP for emergency service providers in the area to respond. Holdridge said the town of Montgomery’s RFP from several years ago is being used as inspiration for Chester’s.

Audits and expenses

Holdridge said the town’s comptroller has been making progress on internal audits dating back to 2022 and 2023. He credited an outside consultant with helping the town catch up. The town also passed a resolution asking the NYSDOT to prioritize the repair of a bridge on Route 17M currently scheduled for construction in the spring of 2026.

The board passed a resolution to accept the ZBA attorney contract from Alyse D. Terhune, Esq. at the rate of $205 per hour, which the board said was $45 per hour less than the prior contract. The supervisor was authorized to sign the July 4 fireworks pyrotechnic contract w/ Fireworks Extravaganza for $19,950.14. And as a new addition to the July 4 light show, the town also approved a contract for a lighted drone show at the cost of $5,950.

The town board promoted Doug Gale to the position of automotive mechanic at $28.66/hour – $1 per hour more than his previous salary. Rental fees for use of SLPAC were waved for three organizations: Vision Hudson Valley, Leadership Orange and Orange County EMS. It was noted that the town is soliciting letters of interest for members of the new SLPAC Advisory Board until April 17.

The board also passed $6,000 in spending to renovate the town hall basement bathrooms and make them ADA compliant. Holdridge announced the board will seek a $50,000 “T-Mobile” grant offered by the cellular company for open space projects. The project they are seeking money for is improvements to Carpenter Field. The total cost of the project is $115,000, leaving $65,000 to the town if the grant request is successful.

Other business

The town meeting started with a 40-minute executive session in which board members met with representatives of the town employees’ union and discussed a new contract. A contract had been proposed in December, while Robert Valentine was still supervisor, but the board rejected going forward with it at that time. The content of the new contract has yet to be agreed on and announced to the public.

A new planning board member was announced: Michael Mallon, a former school board president of the Chester school district and environmental science teacher. He replaces newly elected Councilman Larry Dysinger, who had previously served on the planning board.

Holdridge noted that the town has until June to ask for Community Development Block Grants from the federal government. He said an improvement to SLPAC is the only project in town that he could see qualifying for a grant. The town was rejected last year for the same request because their engineer report did not match the information on their application, Holdridge said.