Cobleskill residents remain divided on whether a new bridge is needed to connect Shady Tree Lane and Barnerville Road, with some urging the project forward to cut down on emergency response time while others disagreed with the county's intended use of eminent domain.
Informing residents that a final decision by the Board of Supervisors would have to be delayed until the April county board meeting, County Attorney Mike West explained that the continuance is because the necessary appraisals of disputed properties have not yet been completed.
That did not prevent homeowners or legislators from chiming in at Tuesday's public hearing, however.
Broome Supervisor Bill Smith was having none of it. Stating that he is "not in favor of this project," Mr. Smith questioned the emergency response figures of some residents and further commented that the bridge is "a waste of the taxpayers money."
Questioning why "do we have to take so much from this person's land," Middleburgh Supervisor Jim Buzon expressed additional concerns on the safety of motorists exiting Shady Tree Lane by way of the busy Roue 7 intersection.
Barnerville Road resident Kari McKelvy disagreed wholeheartedly with Mr. Smith's assessment, recounting an emergency situation where her mother needed an ambulance and "time is of the essence."
Matt Mann, a resident of Shady Tree Lane opposed to the project, commented that it is a "Bad place to replace that bridge," but that maybe it could be moved to another location, "where you don't have to take someone's land."
Divided on either side of the creek, residents of Barnerville Road are in favor of the project to reduce emergency response time, while landowners on Shady Tree Lane are opposed to the use of eminent domain on their properties to construct the structure.
"They [residents of Barnerville Road] had been promised this bridge," said Cobleskill Supervisor Leo McAllister. The supervisor would argue that it is time to put the structure in place because, "This is the only alternative."
Wrestling with a bridge of convenience versus emergency services, Conesville Supervisor Bill Federice questioned whether only a one-lane bridge for emergency response could be constructed to cut down on cost and land infringement.
The answer was no. Stressing that the structure has to meet current federal standards, Department of Public Works Commissioner Dan Crandall said the project would not be eligible to receive grant monies otherwise.
A point of contention in the community since the existing structure was shuttered seven years ago, the proposed bridge is funded as part of a capital improvement project. If the county does not vote to move forward, it will have to pay back $400,000 in grant monies.
Awaiting the final appraisals, supervisors kept the hearing open to the public through the next regularly scheduled county board meeting set for Friday, April 17th at 9:00 a.m.