Spring. Finally. First flowers, sap begins to move and there are buds on the trees. I encountered a remaining, shrinking stubborn mound of snow in one of the Village parking lots yesterday and had to restrain myself from kicking it. Felt like a long winter. here’s plenty going on: some updates.
April is the heart of the Village's budget determination process. Village Manager Fran Frobel submitted a budget to the Board of Trustees with no increase in the tax levy proposed for the next year (which in the Village's world runs from June 2014 to May 2015). The Board is reviewing the various department budget recommendations one by one and also identifying other priorities. The process will conclude in a few weeks, and we will issue a report at that time. The proposed budget is here.
The Village's finances are as strong as they've been in decades: our reserve fund is almost fully funded, revenues and ratables have breaked their fall and have climbed modestly, and the expenses we have control over have been held stable or to reasonable increases. With this stability, we will be turning to some needed infrastructure problems.
The deer darting for this year concluded last week, ending on a strong note (after a frustrating start) with seven deer darted in the last five days. If we had done so well from the first day, it certainly would have been more satisfying, but this was the first month in this study and we climbed a fair distance up a very steep learning curve. It probably should have come as no surprise that wild animals behave wildly and don't necessarily line up cooperatively to be darted in their rears. Plenty of lessons learned and I will issue a detailed follow-up on this once the team has a chance to integrate the findings after some review. A number of volunteers really knocked themselves out (Dan Lemons, especially, but so many others) in this effort, and we owe them gratitude. A series of related efforts now begin,
including an effort well under way (thank you Irene Jong!) which will involve placing fifty potted hostas on selected private properties around the village and following their depredation over the course of the years. We will also be placing exclosures in Hillside woods this Spring to see what the woods would look like without deer deforestation, among other efforts. More details here and in subsequent emails.
The DPW Consolidation Study kicked off the previous week with a well-attended public session. This study will look at a variety of consolidation options over the next three months and be ready with some preliminary recommendations in June. The public in both communities as well as the two Boards of Trustees will then review and try to whittle it down to a preferred option, which will then get a deeper analytic dive by the consultant. As this develops, information will be posted [Link]here.
On May 1st, the Waterfront Infrastructure Committee, a Village-appointed group of volunteer residents with a dry name but a critical charter, will be presenting their recommendation to the public at the Community Center. This volunteer-driven effort was asked to identify where roads, parks and development will go on the Waterfront. These recommendations, once approved by the Board after public discussion, will be provided to the DEC and BP and will help drive the engineering design of the clean-up. This is no theoretic exercise: where this plan shows parks is where the parks will be, and the same for the roads and likely development. You see, telling BP what we want where allows them to lay different kinds of landfill and conduit so that the site will be ready for future uses shortly after it has been cleaned up. This is arguably an emryonic plan for the waterfront, and thus a peek into our future.
I know. Terrible. Ravensdale, Main, and High are especially ghastly. Real monsters are everywhere, and some of them truly impressive in a bad way. Certainly the worst we have seen it in a couple of decades. You needn't email us with your favorite bad one(s) - the Village manager is definitely aware. While we have started patching some of them with temporary patch, we will be getting to work in the next few weeks in a far more methodical way with more durable hot patch. Rather than waiting for the usual end-of-summer repaving effort, one or two of the worst streets are likely to be addressed much sooner since the need is so dire. There's no way to paint lipstick on this pig (other than perhaps they slow some speeders down): we have got to get to them and the DPW will try its best.
The Hastings Education Foundation, which raises money for a variety of efforts for the schools, held its annual fund raiser last night – a nice affair with good food and drink, fundraising auctions. and live music provided in part by students. There was a concert at the same time at the Upstream Gallery downtown – a tough choice since in either case the evening was a lovely one. Like much of what makes our village special, it’s a reminder of the core role volunteers play in our village life and how strong the arts run in our blood. Get involved. It’s worth it.