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News from Amenia

New heating system, a tax rebate, the rail trail all slated for 2016
by Antonia Shoumatoff
Sun Jan 10th, 2016

Harlem Valley Rail Trail

Amenia has a lot on its plate this year.  A one million dollar heating system in town hall,  a new kitchen and Red Cross shelter, the construction of the extension of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail into Wassaic, the dedication of a new park  and the beginning phases of construction of the Silo Ridge Field club are all expected to happen in 2016.

In a conversation last week with Supervisor Victoria Perotti she told us about the plans for the continuing upgrades to the town hall.   

“We are installing a new heating system.  We had two sixty year-old steam boilers that we are changing from steam to hot water with three small boilers.  One is a pellet boiler, for which we will receive a 40% reimbursement through NYSERDA.  The project is expensive because  the radiator and fixtures in all the rooms need to be replaced.  But ultimately it will be more efficient.  We are installing a generator for $150,000 to protect our investment,” she explained.

The town has already replaced the drafty windows in the gymnasium.  This replacement will save tax-payers almost $2,000 per year and will be allocated toward an efficiency plan will entitle taxpayers to get a 1% tax rebate.

“You, the taxpayer, will get a rebate from the state.  There was a property tax freeze.  For local governments all you had to do is comply with the tax cap.  We had to comply with the tax cap and supply an efficiency plan. Our Tax Efficiency Plan is $25,000 and includes part of a shared services grant of $265,000 with Northeast, Rhinebeck, Milan and Amenia which is paying for a roller, a paver and a trailer.” 

Perotti explained that the construction of the new $80,000 kitchen will allow the town to have a contract with the Red Cross as a regional emergency shelter.  The kitchen will be installed this year and received funding from the recreation program for capital projects. 

There is good news on the trail to the train extension.  The Harlem Valley Rail Trail will be extended from the Wassaic rail station, where it now ends, to the hamlet of Wassaic.  It now has a $1 million price tag, mostly grant-funded.  The NYS DOT is about to sign off on the design. Most of the permits are in place.  It could happen this year. 

“The new DOT Regional Projects Director, Lance Gorney, has been very proactive about the Trail, and Marc Molinaro will help us get the county to maintain it.  Now, whenever I have a new permit I drive it over to them in Poughkeepsie to make sure they have it right away.”

Perotti said that as far as the town is concerned, Silo Ridge has done everything they were required to do and now have most of their permits.

“Silo’s water and wastewater transportation corporation was just approved by the Dept. of Health.  The DEC and the DOH have been very strict about water testing so I do not understand why another Article 78 has now been filed against the town.  I do not understand this action and why it is happening.  As far as I know, Silo has complied with county and state legal requirements.  I have some concern about the drain on our budget from all these legal costs.”

“As far as the old Amenia Landfill off Rte. 22 near Silo Ridge, the DEC is reviewing the site management plan we have submitted and we are very close to closing out the project.  The town of Sharon has been very proactive and has put money in their budget to maintain it.

“It will open to the public this year.  There will be a dedication and people will be able to visit the new Thomas Young Park. There are parking places, views and hiking trails. We are looking into putting in benches.  Qualified companies will do quarterly monitoring of the test wells.”

Perotti said that she has been trying to get an answer from the DDSO about their plans for their property in Wassaic.  There are no more patients, but some of the buildings are being used as a treatment center to serve the population that lives on group homes.  They are brought to Wassaic DDSO for medical treatments and dentistry.  The steam plant is still operating. 

Perroti said  “We could not get an appointment with anyone.  A letter to Governor Cuomo was sent by Didi Barrett asking that local officials be informed about what is happening with the property.  There has been no answer.”

Amenia is becoming more walkable with a $150,000 block grant to install sidewalks along Rte. 44 to  Beekman Park where the fields for baseball and soccer are located.   

“I want to encourage economic development and the new businesses that are coming in.   The people who have bought the  Brookside property [the former Tickets dance club] want to put in retail and are already getting permitting.  They are from Connecticut.” 

Other news of Amenia is that the Four Brothers have bought the Victorian house near their restauant and are turning it into a B & B with six bedrooms.  They have also purchased the Simmons Way Inn in Millerton across from the Moviehouse and are turning that into an upscale restaurant with eleven bedrooms.

Perotti is working on finding a new home for the Highway Department. 

“We are looking at potential sites, commercial and state properties which we could lease.  The Town owns land on Sinpatch near Rte. 22 which we are considering as well. ”  The current site for the Highway Department is behind the Pawling Corporation and sits on the stream, a less than ideal site due to flooding. The Town has been struggling to find a new site for the highway department for years.