C hristmas arrived a little early for the Whitehall Town Board.
At last Thursday’s monthly board meeting, Supervisor Richard “Geezer” Gordon announced that Whitehall was the recent recipient of a $50,000 grant that will help cover some of the cost of cleanup efforts at the Troy Shirt Factory.
The funding, which is nearly two years in the making, will be used to recoup a portion of the approximately $87,000 that has already been spent cleaning up environmental containments at the site.
The town had to clean up the site after it was discovered there was asbestos and gasoline in the soil. At the time, officials were notified by Senator Betty Little that funds may be available to help cover the costs of removing the containments.
In order to be eligible for the grant, the town had to complete asbestos abatement and remove fuel tanks and soil that was contaminated by gasoline, Councilman Dave Hollister said.
“We did enough to satisfy the requirements,” Hollister said. “We were told we could get up to $50,000 and ended up getting all $50,000.”
The town voted in April to temporarily cease any further cleanup efforts in light of estimates that projected an additional $196,000 would need to be spent to complete the project. At the time, Gordon also had concerns whether the town was going to receive any grant money and didn’t want to borrow any additional funds to put toward the project.
Earlier this summer, the town, placed New York State Department of Environmental Conservation approved plastic and a layer of dirt on top of the area as a stop gap measure until work could continue.
When work resumes is a decision that will need to be made by the incoming board in the next year, but Hollister said he believes the town would be eligible for additional grant money.
“When we start, we should be able to apply for the grant again,” he said.
In other matters, the town voted passed a motion to sell Washington County dump stickers at the same rate as the county.
Until last week, the town was charging customers an additional 10 cents above the county rate for stickers.
The county voted earlier this year to raise the cost of stickers to $2.25, effective Jan. 1, 2012.
The town discussed the possibility of charging customers $2.35 per sticker. However, that resolution met some resistance from the board.
“I don’t agree with our 10 cents,” Hollister said. “I don’t think the town should make money. It creates a false idea of what the budget really is and creates another reason to throw garbage on the side of the road.”
The small crowd that attended the meeting seemed to share that sentiment.
Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company president Brian Brooks said he felt that the town was an extension of the county and therefore residents should be able to get the same service at the same price in Whitehall that they get from the county.
He said it uncreated an unfair burden for people who may not have transportation to travel outside of Whitehall and get stickers at the county rate.
Town Clerk Elaine Jones said the town made $369 from the sale of dump stickers last month, a number she said is usually higher, meaning the town brings in approximately $4,000 per year that is applied to the general fund.
Brooks added that was $4,000 that was back in the taxpayers’ pocket.
The resolution to sell the stickers at the county rate passed 3-1.
The board also approved a motion to award the WVFC with $3,500 to recoup costs the department has incurred since they began providing first response services this June.
The money was previously earmarked for the Skenesborough Volunteer Fire Company but had yet to be collected. The board voted earlier this fall to discontinue its contract with SVFC and entered into an agreement with WVFC to provide first response services.
Councilman Jim Putorti said WVFC should receive the money if they need it.
The motion passed unanimously.
At the end of the meeting, several in attendance, including Councilman Farrell Prefontaine congratulated Gordon on his service and a job well done.
Gordon is set to step down at the end of the year.
An end-of-the-year meeting will be held at 3 p.m. on Dec. 30. An organizational meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 2.