Haff: legal fees, not fields

The mountain isn’t going anywhere, at least not yet.

Last week, the Hartford Town Board decided to use funds set aside to start development of the five-acre dirt “mountain” west of Hartford Central School off of Route 149 for another purpose.

The board approved a motion by Supervisor Dana Haff for taking the funds and setting them aside for likely legal expenses relating to the Eldridge Lane proposed dump site off of Route 196 in the town.

Haff explained the town’s lawyer accompanied him to a number of meetings at the Municipal Center in Fort Edward since the proposed landfill issue once again became a topic of discussion at the county level. Haff recently presented the Washington County Board of Supervisors with a bill for funds he said the town was owed in the wake of the joint purchase off a large parcel in the town. At the time of the purchase the site was being considered for a dump for the burn plant. No work was started at the site, however and the dump permit with the department of environmental conservation has expired.

Haff said he expected some legal wrangling to continue, driving up the town’s legal expenses beyond the budgeted level.

The board agreed unanimously to dedicate the funds for legal expenses. 

Officials had hoped the money could be used to develop new athletic fields near the school from a large pile of dirt left over from the school renovation project.

The funds, approximately $5,000, were the results of Hartford attaining 100 percent equalization with a recent revaluation, and were unexpected revenue to be paid to the town by the state.

Previously the state has paid $5 per parcel, but Haff said the town did not budget for any revenue from the equalization rate when the state changed its tune and talked about no reimbursement.

The state later changed course again, Haff said, deciding to reimburse the town, but changing the amount before settling on just over $4 per parcel, netting the town $5,316, he said.

Haff characterized the unanticipated income as ‘found money’ at the June meeting and proposed using it to fund a community-based effort to do as much at the site as possible through volunteered machinery and labor.

The idea was to use heavy equipment volunteered by local people operated by volunteers to distribute the dirt into a large, level area which could then be developed into usable athletic fields.

 

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