Today’s local headlines

The Town of Cairo may end up suing the folks behind the Alden Terrace project. Developer Charles Maggio withdrew the project — retail stores and housing on a large empty lot with stunning mountain views — in May from the Cairo Planning Board. It turns out, though, that the Planning Board and the town didn’t properly secure an escrow account from Maggio, and now they are due thousands of dollars for work done on the project. At Wednesday’s Town Board meeting (click here and turn the “audio” triangle around to download or listen to the meeting) Unk Slater — who owns a grocery store in Cairo that might have been run out of town by the project, and who sued the town over its long-broken sewer system — asked why the town might need to litigate, since the Planning Board law mandates an escrow account, town attorney Tal Rappleyea didn’t really have an answer. “At the time the project was ongoing with a lot of work that was happening week to week and month to month and it fell into a deficit situation,” he said. Town Board member Janet Schwarzenegger said, “I don’t think he gave us any money in escrow, it was specifically for the sewer and water study.” Near the end of the meeting, while signing checks, Schwarzenegger was told that there was no signed agreement between Maggio and the town. Clearly, Alden Terrace was getting different treatment than other projects before the Town Planning Board. The Town may have decided in executive session what to do about the issue, but no announcement was made. In other news, Town Board member Raymond Suttmeier said he visited Cairo’s new reservoir park and complained about, among other things, folks visiting the park without first getting the required permit. Town Clerk Tara Rumph confirmed Suttmeier did not get a permit for his visit…. Down Main St. in Cairo the Dragonfly Performing Arts Center has started theater workshops for local youths. They are still facing the Cairo Planning Board for approval to turn the empty former department store on Main St. into a theater with plays, movies, perrformances, and other workshops and activities for young people and adults. Rita Carver’s Dragonfly Performing Arts group just put on “Cats,” but had to do it at Columbia-Greene Community College. The Planning Board will host a public hearing on the project Aug. 5…. The Daily Mail and The Register-Star, the area’s two largest newspapers which also publish The Mountain Eagle, Windham Journal, and Chatham Courier, relaunched their web sites today, with many new features including blogs from reporters; most popular, most commented, and most e-mailed festures; and other expanded services…. As the local economy has cratered, more people are turning to Columbia County’s Department of Social Services for help, according to The Register-Star. There has been a nine percent increase in cases for temporary assistance, 17 percent in cases for Safety Net, a 27 percent increase in food stamp cases and an eight percent increase in Medicaid cases, and an 82 percent increase in temporary assistance…. The Register-Star also reports that Housing Resources of Columbia County owes the city of Hudson $34,873.94 in unpaid water and sewer bills dating back to 2007. They say they do not have any money to pay it back, yet have spent almost $400,000 on the “Copake Green” development which will put 138 housing units a Copake corn field…. Capitol Confidential says Howard Dean has endorsed Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and links to the YouTube video (see below) as proof.

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