Feb 10, 2014 Joe Genco Uncategorized
After stockpiling mulch for several years at the transfer station, the town of Skaneateles has more than it knows what to do with.
“It’s something that we just keep compiling year after year. We never seem to be able to get rid of it,” Highway Superintendent Allan Wellington said.
This led Wellington to propose that the town sell the excess mulch to a local landscaping company.
After discussing the matter at its Feb. 6 meeting, the town board resolved to put out a request for bids for a contract to purchase the town’s extra mulch on an ongoing basis. A contractor would be able to haul away the current pile of mulch, estimated by Wellington to be about 5,000 cubic yards, and would purchase excess production in future years.
The mulch pile, located at the transfer station on Old Seneca Turnpike, is created every year by grinding up leaves and brush brought to the transfer station by residents. The village Department of Public Works does curbside brush pickup which also contributes to the pile at the transfer station.
The town does not own the grinding equipment, but rather pays to have a private company do it three times a year at a cost of about $10,000. Creating new revenue by selling the mulch would help offset the grinding costs and possibly allow them to double-grind some mulch to create a better quality product for residents, Wellington said.
Currently, town residents are able to take away as much mulch as they want, for home gardening, from the town pile for free.
Under the contract, the town will still be able to reserve a certain amount of mulch for its residents to use and the contract wouldn’t guarantee a set volume for the landscaping company, but rather would be based on how much the town produces, Attorney Tom Taylor said.
Board members discussed spending money to save an old railroad bridge that was slated to be taken down by the Onondaga County Department of Transportation this summer.
With funding from a federal grant, the county plans to replace a road bridge on Jordan Road in Skaneateles Falls this summer. County engineers first held a public hearing on this project in March of last year, at which they stated the old railroad bridge would be taken down to make room for the construction workers. The previous town board discussed saving the bridge after hearing about its history and the possibility of converting it into a pedestrian crossing from former supervisor Charlie Major, however they decided not to take action.
The old bridge is one of three on town property that could be turned into pedestrian bridges as a part of a trail that could one day connect the northern hamlets of the town to the village creekwalk. Though the town does not plan to take on that project anytime soon, saving the bridges keeps their options open in the future, Board Member Connie Brace said.
At a recent meeting with county officials, current board members were offered an option of preserving the bridge at a cost of $1,812 to the town — to construct retaining walls to protect it during the road work. The board discussed spending $500 to have C&S Engineers inspect the structural integrity of the bridge before giving a final answer to the county, though they tabled the discussion to see what it would cost to have the engineers inspect the other two corresponding bridges also.
—Supervisor Mary Sennett asked the board to consider the possibility of eliminating or reducing production of the town newsletter.
Depending on how many pages are in each edition, the quarterly newsletter costs the town between $4,800 and $10,000 to print and mail every year. Due to the amount of information available on the newly-redesigned town website as well as in the local newspapers, the newsletter may no longer be a necessary expense, Sennett said.
Other board members offered additional ideas such as making hard copies of the newsletter available to be picked up around town, mailing it only to households that sign up or making it available on the website.
Board Member Nancy Murray said that the newsletter is an important way to communicate with families who may not have access to a computer or some residents who are accustomed to reading it.
“There are elderly people here who don’t get out and they look for that [newsletter] in the mail and they read it top to bottom,” Murray said.
—The board scheduled a public hearing for 7:30 p.m. at its Feb. 20 meeting to get public ideas for a community development grant from the county worth up to $50,000.
Board members noted that the hamlet of Skaneateles Falls would best qualify under the provisions of the grant, which the town has applied for in past years with no success.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.