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Long agenda for Lake Placid, North Elba meeting

February 26, 2015
By MATTHEW TURNER (mturner@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The village of Lake Placid and town of North Elba held their first joint board meeting of the year Tuesday afternoon to discuss community issues and ways to work together in the upcoming months.

The work session between the governments was a long one with an agenda packed with several small items and a discussion about village court dissolution. Because the meeting was a work session, no formal actions or votes were taken.

Town Supervisor Roby Politi said the Community Development Commission's renewed look at the Comprehensive Plan and community and government issues was the reason for the meeting.

"I think the best thing is it has resulted in us coming together to discuss items that are of concern," Politi said.

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Village court dissolution

One major topic was the village's recent resolution to consider dissolving the village court system within the next two years. Village officials believe by doing so, the village and town taxpayers will save money by eliminating a duplication of services.

Even though the village board members passed the resolution, they have not explicitly gone on record saying they will dissolve the court and are still in the process of deciding. The reason the resolution passed quickly is because a village justice retired, which gave the village the opportunity to consider dissolution.

"Are you saying there is no hurry on this decision?" Politi asked.

"We have two years to work this out," village Mayor Craig Randall said.

The workload for the two town judges was a concern for town officials. Politi said the town court picked up 600 to 700 cases last year when the village of Saranac Lake dissolved its court. Town Attorney Ron Briggs, a former Essex County district attorney, said he does not believe the added cases from the villages court could be handled by just two town justices.

The final decision may come sooner than two years. And the village is the only local government body with the authority to dissolve the court. A village court clerk is also set to retire, Randall said. And he expects that position may have to be replaced by September, which would in effect give the village an ultimatum to decide whether to hire a new clerk or dissolve the court system entirely.

Currently, the village is looking for an acting justice to replace the retired Margaret Doran.

The officials also discussed court revenue. Village Trustee Scott Monroe said the village court revenue is about $120,700 a year. Of that he said, about $87,000 comes from parking fines and $40,000 from misdemeanor and felony crimes.

Lake Placid would keep the parking fines if the court dissolves; however, the other revenue would go to the town. Some court revenue also goes to the county and state government.

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Senior Citizen Center

The local government officials also discussed Tuesday the possibility of applying jointly for a grant to reorganize their archives, which could relocate the Senior Citizen Center out of the North Elba Town Hall.

Currently, the record keeping for the village is in poor shape, according to Randall. The village houses its records, like old board meeting minutes and budgetary and legal documents, inside the village Public Works garage. The town houses records in the town hall's attic. Neither location is ideal, officials said.

"It could be nice if the town and the village could share the same storage areas," Randall said. "They would still be separated, as I understand it."

Randall said if someone sent a Freedom of Information Law request for an old document it would be almost impossible to find the record because of the archives disarray.

"Unless you have good luck," Randall said.

The grant is offered by the New York State Archives Local Government Records Management and Improvement Fund. Village Clerk Ellen Clark said the maximum amount of funding that could be received is $150,000, if the two governments apply jointly. The grant has not been opened up for application yet, she said. If the governments get the grant, the town councilmen and village trustees said they could hire someone to reorganize the records.

During the meeting, the officials discussed the possibility of moving the archive room to the second floor of the Town of North Elba office space where the Senior Citizen Center is currently located. The officials from both boards seemed to agree that a room inside the village Beach House would be better suited for seniors' needs and more accessible.

"It makes sense," Politi said. "I love to see more community use of community buildings."

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Pipe freeze-ups

Village Department of Public Works Superintendent Brad Hathaway discussed pipe freeze-ups that have occurred to more than 10 homeowners throughout the village and town. Nearby municipalities have had the same problem as sustained cold drives frost deeper into the ground.

"It's sporadic and it's all over," Hathaway said. "There's a lot of vacation rentals in this town. They sit unattended for up to a week."

Because the problem is not confined to one street, Hathaway recommended that his department picks the roads where water should be left on. The roads will be selected based on past records of freeze-ups.

The village workers will continue to go door to door to ask some homeowners to leave their water running, Hathaway said.

Randall said at the village's next board meeting there will be a resolution on the agenda to potentially set a flat rate for homeowners who were affected. That would ensure that the homeowners aren't overcharged for exceeding their typical water usage.

Homeowners are asked to contact the village water department at 518-523-3612 or the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department at 518-523-3211 if their pipes freeze.

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Telephone system

The town and the village discussed the possibility of sharing the cost of a new telephone system in the town hall, where both have their offices.

The current telephone system is 15 years old and malfunctions, according to town Budget Officer Cathy Briggs. She said the phone system rings when it's not suppose to and even sometimes rings when someone is on the phone talking.

Town board members came to a consensus that the phone system needs to be replaced. Politi said they would likely move forward with it sometime soon, even if village officials do not want to. The cost for the town would be $12,095 to replace the system for the town, but if the village joined, they would split $22,300, Briggs said.

Randall agreed the phone system is a problem that needs to be solved.

 
 
 

 

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