By Nathan Mayberg
KAUNEONGA LAKE March 28, 2006 The Town of Bethel Board will remain a four-person body following the rejection of Supervisor Harold Russells attempt to appoint retired New York State Trooper Charles Foster to the board.
A vacancy on the board remains since Russell gave up his seat to defeat Supervisor Victoria Simpson last November.
The decision could be a matter of party politics, since the board is split between two registered Democrats and two Republicans. Councilmen Bob Blais and Daniel Sturm are Democrats, while Russell and Councilman Richard Crumley are Republicans.
Russell said he asked one unnamed board member to abstain from making a decision on the matter, since he is related.
Although Russell did not disclose Fosters identity publicly, he called him a very strong and qualified candidate. A lifelong resident, Russell called him honest and of unquestionable character.
The refusal of the board to accept Russells appointment clearly agitated him. He unleashed a strong denouncement of the board members who did not agree with him.
I cant express how disappointed I am that the board is still unable to make an appointment. . . . It seems apparent to me that there will not be a fifth member appointed to the board. . . . I dont know if Bill Clinton could get on this board, he said.
An election will be held in November to fill the seat regardless of whether an appointment is made or not, per New York State Election Law.
In other town business, action on the $3 million sewer district extension, which will expand into Kauneonga Lake, will be delayed until April 16 so that Russell can ensure the town will be receiving $1.2 million in grants for the project. The remaining $1.8 million will be bonded. The public hearing on the expansion will be extended to that date as well.
Gabriel Road remains a major headache for the town. A section of the road has been closed off for a year now due to flooding and structural issues. The town was awarded FEMA money last year, but the work done on the road was alleged to have caused even more damage. The town was forced to pay FEMA back about $45,000 as a result, said Blais.
Russell is proposing to apply for a historic preservation grant, since there used to be an old mill on the road.
Otherwise, it could cost up to $800,000, including the repair of a dam and dredging a nearby pond, to prevent frequent flooding. Or the town could look into abandoning the road.
Crumley had a different take on the problem. He said the dam, which is privately owned, is in good shape. He estimated that it would only cost between $25,000 and $30,000 to lay some pipes there and remove a couple of buildings.
In Kauneonga Lake, the town is receiving $20,000 from a grant secured by New York State Senator John Bonacic and a $5,000 grant from New York State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther to build a youth pavilion at the town park.
According to Crumley, there is some discontent among members of the youth board following the resignation of a longtime member and director. He directed Sturm to speak to her, since he is the liaison to the board.