Town Board Hears Concerns Regarding Rte. 22 Rezoning

Whaley Lake, Speed Limits, Transfer Station Discussed

The Pawling Town Board met on Wednesday, September 5, in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Town Hall. The agenda for the evening included an update on the Whaley Lake Dam reconstruction project, a discussion of speed limits on local roads, policy at the Transfer Station, and an announcement regarding the possible rezoning of land along NY State Route 22.

The Board heard from Owner’s Representative Vinny DiMarco regarding the progress on construction at the Whaley Lake Dam. DiMarco reported that the final concrete pour took place on August 31, completing the dam’s energy dissipation wall. Workers are now engaged in backfilling the arched spillway. Backfilling is a lengthy process, as materials can only be compacted twelve inches at a time, and each section is checked to ensure that it meets design specifications. DiMarco announced that the job site received numerous visitors in recent weeks, including Department of Environmental Conservation personnel, State Senator Terrence Murphy, Village Mayor Robert Liffland, and Congressman John Faso. According to DiMarco, all were pleased with the progress of the dam project.

Several residents of the Whaley Lake area were in attendance to voice concerns that the lake water might not return to previous levels given the change in size to the dam’s spillway and the absence of weir ports. “The elevation of the spillway is the same as it was,” said Councilman Bill Johnson. “The lake is going to go back to the level it was originally designed to be at.”

Councilman Phil DeRosa, who has been involved with the reconstruction project since its inception, commented: “We have to wait until the dam is finished in a month or so, then we’ll let the water fill up where it is. Our engineers agree, we’ll let the lake figure out where the levels are going to be, and then if we have to make an adjustment later on we can look at it then.”

Supervisor James Schmitt emphasized his confidence in the project’s planning. “The DEC, the engineers, and the professionals who dictated this have everyone’s best interests in mind,” he said. “This is designed to be back at the exact elevation it was.”

In other business, Councilman James McCarthy addressed the issue of possible changes to speed limits on local roads, specifically roadways on Quaker Hill, which comes in response to safety concerns expressed by area residents. “In my personal opinion, I think that town roads should be 35 miles per hour, maximum,” said McCarthy, who has begun working with Dutchess County planners to address the question. “Being a firefighter for thirty-five years, I’ve been on enough calls for speed accidents,” he added. “We need to address this.” Councilman McCarthy said he is compiling a list of roads with speed recommendations to submit to Dutchess County government.

Councilman Phil DeRosa then gave a report on possible procedural changes at the Town Transfer Station next year. A committee consisting of Councilman DeRosa, Councilman James McCarthy, Town Clerk Cathy Giordano, and Highway Superintendent Jay Dickinson has been reviewing policy and is considering a number of alterations to recommend to the Board. These include not allowing commercial businesses to purchase stickers, citing instances where commercial vehicles brought residential waste to the facility, reducing the station’s operation from four to three days a week, and limiting station-attendant hours to twenty-four hours weekly. “We’re trying to keep it fair to cut down the costs so that there isn’t an increase,” said DeRosa.

At the end of the meeting, the Town Board took a first step toward the possible rezoning of properties along Route 22 with a resolution to advertise for a planner position and to form a committee devoted to the matter. The committee will consist of Councilman Bill Johnson, Councilman Phil DeRosa, Town Planning Board Chairman George Brehm, Building Inspector Carl Ellis, a representative from Dutchess County, and the planner yet to be named. “This is the very beginning stages of this,” Councilman Johnson emphasized.

The decision to advance the possibility of rezoning the land was met with skepticism and concern from a number of residents in attendance. Residents expressed the desire for someone with environmental experience to be appointed to the committee. They also questioned why a resident of the area had not been asked to join. Resident Mark Chipkin spoke on behalf of the Hurd’s Corners Road Civic Association. “For forty years the Hurd’s Corners Road Civic Association has worked together with you,” he said. “Your involvement now, before you even get the planner started, should be to find out what the community is concerned about, what we’re afraid about. We don’t even know why you’re doing this on Route 22. We’re beginning this process, and you haven’t asked any residents about their concerns.”

Chipkin then summarized some of the concerns of area residents, including possible chemical impact on area land if property is rezoned for commercial use, the impact of changes to land values and views from the Appalachian Trail. “We want to work with you, not against you,” he said. “We’re just asking that you go slowly and keep us involved.”

Officials explained that they were receptive to residents’ concerns and will continue to keep an open dialog as the project develops.

The next Town Board meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 3, at 7:00 p.m. at Town Hall, 160 Charles Colman Blvd.