“Hydrant, road trade controversy continues”

The Jamie Larson story in The Register-Star today is incredibly detailed, but I still do not understand the big picture of the proposed switcheroo of a fire hydrant for a road closure. And which meeting did things get decided at, who says, or is that just implied? Can someone in Taghkanic explain?

The occasionally contentious inter-municipal deal to trade the installation of a hydrant for the Taghkanic Fire Department along the city of Hudson water supply line for the closure of the road along the city owned Churchtown reservoir has shifted course, according to town and city officials. At the Monday meeting of the Taghkanic Town Board, members and Highway Superintendent Tom Youhas said the two issues are now separate. Taghkanic Supervisor Elizabeth Young said the hydrant is a public safety issue that is up to the fire department and Youhas will have the ultimate say on whether the road along the reservoir and dam will be closed. Youhas has expressed disapproval of the proposal to trade Reservoir Road for a fire hydrant to be located on Post Hill Road. Hudson Superintendent of Public Works Robert Perry said he’s not sure whether they are separate issues or not. He said the city would like to alleviate a certain level of risk on the city’s end, meaning potential dangers posed to the dam by allowing vehicle traffic on its bank, if the city is going to assume the risk associated with installing and monitoring a hydrant that taps into the city’s pipe running from the smaller dam at a waterfall on the Taghkanic creak to the reservoir 10 miles away. “The ball’s in their court,” Perry said. “The negotiations have just begun. All we’re asking is some consideration to minimize risk elsewhere.” The forge, of New Forge Road, has also become a focus of concern for some in Taghkanic who take issue with the fact that during a drought the waterline can drop below the forge dam spillway and cut off the stream entirely. There is a valve in the dam that can release water past it but Perry said it may never have been opened in the nearly 100 years since it was installed and they aren’t going to touch it for fear that it may rust out and not close. “The DPW people are not sure if the dam is holding the valve in place or if the valve is holding the dam in place,” said Town Board Member Lawrence Kadish at the meeting Monday. “Even if we could open the valve it’s unlikely in a drought situation it would create flow. The obvious conclusion is you need to build a new dam there.” Perry said there is no need to build a new dam and such construction in a creek bed would never be approved by the Department of Environmental Conservation in the modern era. Destruction of the old dam, he said, would most likely have to involve blowing it up with dynamite. “You can clearly see it is lack of rain and not any appurtenance on the part of Hudson that reduces the amount of water in the creek during time of drought.” Taghkanic Creek runs right behind the town’s firehouse and the Taghkanic Volunteer Fire Company #1 uses the creek for water to put out fires. When the creek is dry, the fire company has to travel to one of five privately owned ponds and pump out of a dry hydrant into the four water-carrying vehicles. The dry creek is another reason a hydrant would be so useful. Perry said he does not have a problem with taking the road out of the deal but will hold his opinion until he hears the official request he expects soon from the fire department and not the highway department. All of these issues were discussed on April 24, at a meeting between representatives from both municipalities that included Young, Hudson Mayor Richard Scalera, Perry, Youhas and Kadish. Perry said at the end of the meeting he had the understanding that at the Monday Taghkanic Town Board meeting the idea of closing Reservoir Road to vehicle traffic but leaving it open as a pedestrian trail would be brought up to the public. On Monday however the topic was not brought up at the meeting.

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