BLENHEIM - Members of the Blenheim Town Board were informed Monday evening that the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program has entered its next stage, with the committee of citizens tasked with identifying potential work projects having finalized their work and transferred the program over to the municipality for completion.
Board members quickly agreed to go forward and pursue the top projects on the compiled list, which included constructing a new town hall, fire department, and town highway building outside of the flood plain zone, allowing the facilities to also serve as a command center and shelter if another natural disaster were to occur.
State representatives seemed optimistic that the projects would be approved by the state, Supervisor Shawn Smith told board members, and as a result the town has begun the process of submitting the applications required for final approval.
The total amount of money awarded to the town of Blenheim is $3 million dollars, but in an abundance of caution the Town is only proceeding with the relocating of town facilities at this point to be sure that they do not overspend the allotted money.
Stating that "The last thing we want to do is end up in a situation where were start a few projects and find out that we are over budget due to change orders or other unforeseen circumstances," Smith believed that another project could be possible if there is still money remaining in the grant after the initial projects are completed.
As the board discussed the project Smith recommended that he thought the requirements of managing a project this large would require more time and oversight than would be possible for the town board and Clerk to commit to.
Smith indicated that he had been in contact with Shane Nickel at Schoharie County Planning and their office said they would be willing to serve as the sub recipient of the grant and aid in implementation of the project.
Councilwoman Grabowski stated that she too “thought the scope of the project and federal reporting requirements were too cumbersome for the Town to handle on its own” and made a motion to authorize Schoharie County Planning to serve as the sub recipient of the grant. The motion was seconded by Councilman Keyser and all voted in favor. (Anne Mattice-Strauch and Joe Ward were excused from the meeting).
While there is still one last level of approval, it is anticipated that the projects will be approved in the next month or two and the Town can then formally begin the projects.
In other business, Blenheim town board members:
- Discussed a resolution expressing the town's opposition and condemnation of eminent domain being used by pipeline companies. The resolution was introduced by Supervisor Smith, but it was tabled until the full board was present to discuss its language.
- Heard from Highway Superintendent David Mattice that “despite us having a very tough winter we are lucky that all of our trucks and equipment have held up great, and as a result we have a very low repair bills this year.”
- Voted to change the date of its April town board meeting from Monday, April 6 to Tuesday, April 7 at 7pm.