Hearing set for Walden sex offender law
The Walden Village Board voted at their meeting last week to set a public hearing on the proposed Child Safety Zone Law, which would restrict where registered level II and III sex offenders could live and work within the village.
The law, as proposed, would not allow them to live within 500 feet of schools, daycare facilities, religious centers, parks, playgrounds and public swimming areas, and would give a sex offender who moves into a restricted area 30 days to move or face a violation which could carry a $250 fine and/or 15 days in jail.
Austin DuBois, attorney for the Village Board, outlined some of the exceptions to the proposed law, such as if the sex offender was forced to live in that location because he or she was confined to a nursing home, hospital or jail.
The law also calls for a committee that an individual can appeal to for an exception to the law. As it stands, the committee would include at minimum the village manager, police chief, village attorney and two village trustees.
Trustee Ed Leonard requested that a map of the village delineating the restricted areas be provided to the board at their next meeting so they could see how much real estate, if any, would be left open.
Mayor Brian Maher advised the board that the individual that had moved in across the street from the elementary school, spurring the creation of the proposed law, had moved.
“As of right now, he is no longer living there,” said Maher.
The board voted to set the public hearing for Aug. 14 at 6:30 p.m.
Parking issues have been a regular item of discussion at the board’s recent meetings, and last week brought additional parking concerns to the forefront. This time centering around Woodruff Street, Highland Avenue and East Main Street.
Trustee Sue Rumbold noted that parking has been an issue for a while in the area. With cars parking along both sides of the street, cars trying to travel on the streets were having difficulty making it through and concerns had been raised that emergency vehicles would not be able to make it through at all.
The board agreed that they needed to speak with the fire chief, police chief and area residents and businesses before making any changes.
In the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Jessica Metzger questioned the board about their decision to create a new full-time position in the police department without any public discussion. Metzger stated that the possibility was not discussed in the budget meetings held three months ago, and the affect on the budget was not discussed publicly prior to posting the job opening.
Maher stated that the idea had been talked about in public in previous years and was a request from the police chief. He asserted that the move was spoken about in previous budget sessions.
Metzger stated that it was “not discussed at all” in at least the last three months and while she agreed there might be a need for the position, the move needed to be discussed first in public. She called the village manager’s refusal to discuss the matter at the last board meeting “overcontrolling” and an example of “closed government.”
In other business, the Village Board addressed issues of property maintenance in the village, holding a hearing in regards to 78 Maple Street. The owner of the property had not responded to a second notice and did not appear at the hearing. The board authorized village employees to go in and remedy the situation and charge the costs back to the owner on their taxes.
An issue with a second property, located at 17 Bank Street, was also presented to the board by the code enforcement officer, who stated that renters of the property had discarded several used/damaged couches in the backyard. The board passed a resolution for a letter to be sent to the owner.
Since the village manager was absent from the meeting as he was on vacation, Village Treasurer Peter Sullivan, spoke on his behalf, advising the board that the sewer had operated in excess of 95 percent of its capacity last year due mainly to the tropical storms. The village engineer was to do a required report to the DEC by Aug. 1 on a plan to remediate.
The Village Board also voted to approve Turn the Town Teal for its second year. Organizers of the event will put up ribbons on trees in the municipal square and on Main Street to help raise awareness of ovarian cancer. Businesses can also choose to participate.
The board approved going out to bid for a Ford 550 dump truck, with bids to be received and opened on Aug. 14 at 1 p.m. Sullivan stated that $70,000 had been budgeted for the truck, which would replace a truck previously put out for surplus.
By Rachel Coleman