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Shedding light on Walden

December 7th, 2012

After years of aggravation with malfunctioning streetlights on the bridge and elsewhere in the village, Walden may soon be celebrating more than the holidays.

John Queenan of Lanc & Tully, the village’s engineers, advised the Village Board last week that he believed they had found the solution. The problem however, was that the possible solution carried a maximum pricetag of $25,000 for all of the lights in question.

“I think we need to be smart—see where the money is coming from,” said Deputy Mayor Susan Rumbold, noting that “$25,000 is not a little bit of money.”

Village Treasurer Pete Sullivan stated that the village has the money in their current budget due to some unanticipated bond savings, however if they choose to spend it now, they won’t have it for next year. He noted that the extra in the budget totaled a little over $100,000.

“If we don’t spend it now, we definitely will next budget,” said Village Manager John Revella.

Revella noted that the Village Board had already ordered some overhead lights so “no matter how long this takes, there should be lights there soon.”

Rumbold recommended that the village move forward with the lights on the bridge, and if the solution worked, then move on to the other lights. The board voted to authorize up to $25,000, with the bridge lights to be done first. If the work doesn’t resolve the problem, then they will not continue with the remaining lights.

In other business, the board continued discussions regarding recent recommendations from the Ethics Board that the village grant them investigative powers. Thoughts on the issue were mixed, even from members of the Ethics Board as Anita Vandermark stated she felt it was important to grant those powers, while Alex Landolina recommended caution.

“It’s a tool that we need,” said Vandermark, noting that the town of Montgomery, Orange County and a number of other municipalities have already made the move.

“I think you should have that authority,” said Mayor Brian Maher.

Concern was expressed however, by members of the Village Board, audience and by Landolina that the Ethics Board would be used as a tool or weapon for personal or political gain.

“We want you to really digest this so we don’t run rampant over anybody,” said Landolina.

“I do not believe investigative powers should be put in their hands,” said Becky Pearson, former mayor of the village.

The question was also raised about what purpose the Ethics Board is to serve. At present, the code states they are there to give advisory opinions to village employees or officials who are unsure of what future action to take in a certain situation. They are not to pass judgment on past actions of those individuals. It was questioned whether their purpose should be revised.

Village resident Jessica Metzger stated she felt that the Ethics Board should also have its own separate counsel (not the village attorney) as it posed a possible conflict.

The board decided to continue the discussion at their next meeting while they review the code of ethics of neighboring municipalities.

The Village Board voted to accept the garbage contract offered by IWS at $467,820. Residents will receive new trash cans, one for recycling and one for trash. The contract does not include commercial pickup at this time and the term is for one year, with options of additional years. Bids were also received from Marangi and County Waste.

Three separate hearings were set in regards to property violations in the village located at: 161 Elm Street, 38 Center Street and the Zona Rosa restaurant. All of the hearings are to take place on Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m.

In the public comment portion, a village resident urged the board to repair the bridge, noting that he was a veteran and felt that the condition of the memorial bridge was a disgrace. He offered to donate $2,000 to the village for the purpose of repairing the bridge. The mayor thanked him for the gesture.

The village will once again have the New Year’s Eve fireworks display, provided by Starfire Corp. at a cost of $5,000.

By Rachel Coleman

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