A very tight debate between two foresters went to the deciding vote of Mayor Francis “Fra” Putorti at the Whitehall Village Board meeting on July 20.
In the end, the contract for foresting services went to Jim Allen Forestry of Fort Ann over former Department of Environmental Conservation forester Richard Cipperly.
“He is young enough that he will be around for a 15- or 18-year foresting plan,” said Putorti in support of Allen. “He has worked with the county and with other villages on their forestry projects. I feel comfortable with Jim.”
Trustee Kenneth Bartholomew said that he felt Cipperly was more qualified to do the forestry work for the village based on his resume.
“I have done a bunch of research,” said Bartholomew. “The DEC names three separate societies that they should belong to at least one of them. Cipperly and Fountain Forestry both belong to two of them. My deduction is that Fountain and Mr. Cipperly are pretty close together. Mr. Cipperly also was also a mayor and part of DEC. Mr. Allen didn’t impress me at all.”
Trustee Sally Raino agreed with Bartholomew.
“I thought Allen and Cipperly very close,” said Raino. “I like that Cipperly was a mayor, and he gets our point of view and worked with the DEC, so he gets the other point of view. I go with Mr. Cipperly.”
Trustee Walt Sandford voiced his opinion in favor of Allen.
“He’s younger, seems more energetic to me,” said Sandford. “I think one of the concerns the community had was oversight, and he made it clear that he would be at the site as much as needed. My best feel came with Mr. Allen.”
Bartholomew added that he would prefer hiring Fountain Forestry, which worked on the original management plan for the Pine Lake watershed property, but that its bid for the work was too expensive.
“I would choose Fountain out of all of them, but I think they priced themselves out,” said Bartholomew.
“I would go with Fountain, too, but they’re out,” said Raino.
“They priced themselves out of this,” said Sandford.
Trustee Michael LaChapelle seemed hesitant to make a choice at first.
“As far as I am concerned, they are all good,” said LaChapelle. “We want to go with the most qualified and we need to get things done.”
After a couple minutes, LaChapelle made the motion to hire Allen. With the vote tied at 2-2, Putorti cast his vote for Allen.
After the vote, both Raino and Bartholomew said they would support the decision.
“I’m sure he’ll do a fabulous job,” said Raino.
“I am, too, but I pointed out what I felt needed to be pointed out,” added Bartholomew.
After the vote, Allen said that he was looking forward to working with the village on the Pine Lake property.
“I am very pleased that they chose me and I believe that I can do what the village is looking for,” said Allen. “The goals are long-term. I hope that everyone will be pleased with what will happen, and I am always open to comments from the village and the residents.”