Mamakating faces problems with timely code enforcement
By Dan Hust
WURTSBORO A group of concerned citizens in the Town of Mamakating may have convinced the town board to undo problematic cuts to the Code Enforcement Office.
On May 19, Bill Lucas of Phillipsport, accompanied by well-known community activists like Paula Medley and Andy and Eileen Haworth Weil, told board members that code violations are going uncorrected throughout the township.
“We’re here to work with the town,” Lucas assured.
He listed three particular cases of concern: the old Homowack hotel near Spring Glen, a sand and gravel mine on Dugout Road in Phillipsport, and Porco’s propane storage tanks near Kohl’s and the airport north of Wurtsboro.
Lucas mentioned that the Homowack, now known as the Spring Mountain Resort, is allegedly in a state of potentially dangerous disrepair.
As for the mine, he worried about “some pretty scarily steep cliffs” that might violate town codes.
Porco, an Orange County-based energy company, installed propane tanks along Route 209, but according to several town officials, they were not the correct size nor installed in compliance with code, and a stop work order has been issued.
“I know the people from Porco came and said it’s very safe, but who knows?” Lucas questioned.
Although Building Inspector Mary Grass did not speak at the meeting, town board members seemed to agree with Lucas that her high workload some 475 violations to address in 2008 alone (which isn’t the sum of her duties) does not give her enough time to resolve all the violations.
“We’re not seeing results,” Andy Weil remarked. “We’re seeing things deteriorate further and further.”
“How much are you going to ask one person to do?” agreed Councilman Teddy Brebbia.
Councilwoman Judy Young lamented that money had been taken out of the code enforcement line in the budget to address deep financial issues in the town.
And in years past, a dedicated, full-time code enforcement officer position was reduced and then controversially eliminated, leaving the previously-separate building inspector to handle all the work.
Supervisor Bob Fiore agreed that was a mistake and promised to respond to Lucas and company’s concerns.
“We can take care of it,” he said. “... We don’t have enough money to do it, but we’ll find it.”
Fiore surmised the town will create a “reporting mechanism” to prioritize complaints and violations in order to respond to issues faster. He’ll report on the town’s progress in this regard at every board meeting.
Perhaps most notably, an assistant building inspector will be hired this month, Fiore added in an interview this week. He dubbed it a “trial run” to see what can be accomplished and funded.
“We need to keep after things on a regular basis,” agreed Councilman Robert Justus.