C onsolidation and quality of life improvements are among a litany of issues local officials will look at during the new year.
With 2012 officially behind them, officials have already begun focusing their energies on this year and there are a number of things they hope to get accomplished.
The Village of Whitehall, in particular, has an ambitious agenda in the year ahead.
“Our focus is to move ahead and continue to make improvements in the village,” said Mayor Peter Telisky. “The biggest thing is trying to create a sense of community.
“We’ve gotten wrapped up in some other things and have sidestepped what we feel like and look like as a community.”
He said the village needs to make a renewed effort to improve its sidewalks, streets and medians, as well as have a discussion about property maintenance.
“We don’t want to skirt some of the bigger problems we have but those are the kind of things that make us a community.”
Later this year, officials will survey village streets examining signage, catch basins and the condition of village streets. After the survey they will develop a plan to address areas that may need improvement or repairs.
“We have to make upgrades to the community, holistically,” said Telisky, adding that it’s a necessary part of becoming a healthy community.
The village and town will also continue to explore consolidation. Both Telisky and Supervisor George Armstrong said they will work towards getting the police department, the village and town courts and the village into the Whitehall Municipal Center.
Armstrong said officials have already delineated space for the court, the police department and the village, and that it’s just a matter of coming to an agreement with each entity.
Telisky said the village is hopeful it can move the police department into the northern end of the building “as fast as they can” and he and Armstrong are working on a preliminary agreement they hope to finalize and have their respective boards review by the end of the month. If each government entity is satisfied with the agreement, work would begin immediately.
“That would be the first step toward consolidation,” Telisky said.
The court systems, which have already applied for funding and had an architect create a set of blue prints, would follow.
The top priority for town officials is keeping taxes low.
“We want to run an austerity budget,” Armstrong said.
He said the town will have to find ways to continue to expand programs at the Rec. Center, like the widely popular summer lunch program, while controlling the expense of the added programs.
Armstrong is also looking forward to seeing the response to events at the Skenesborough Waterfront Community Park.
In Hampton, Supervisor Dave O’Brien said the biggest focus will be on finishing the exterior of the new town hall as well as designated a wall for memorial plaques which residents can purchase in memory of loved one and residents who have given back to the community.
Officials will also look at developing a plan to replace equipment for the highway department.
“It’s getting more and more expensive,” said O’Brien, who asked fellow board members at last month’s meeting to consider cost saving alternatives.
The town’s planning board will also continue working on an agricultural or comprehensive plan.
“We want to make sure we have the ability to ensure our farm land will be managed well for future generations. We don’t want our very valuable farm land being used for uses other land would be suitable for.”
This year will also be a busy one for elections. The Village of Whitehall will hold elections in March and the terms of Telisky and trustees Marge Mohn and Mike LaChapelle will come to an end unless they seek reelection.
Armstrong’s term also comes to an end in December, as do councilmen Richard LaChapelle and David Holister.
Whitehall could also have new justices as the terms of both Julie Eagan and Tom Nichols expire.