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Guest Column: Mayor Keith T. Pierce
ODESSA, Oct. 9, 2013 -- Another summer has flown by and much to the chagrin of the publisher of this fine website, its been some time since I last caught you all up on the goings-on of our little Village on the hill. It has been a busy summer with a few notable changes.
We've had another change in our DPW staff, losing a great worker in David Ink to our local school bus garage and replacing him with an equally great worker by the name of Frances Smith. Frances comes to us from the great State of New Jersey. Along with her husband, Frances recently returned to our area, having lived in the Oak Hill area for much of her childhood. She had strong roots in our area and is very happy to be back. Frances has been with us now for six months and has truly been a great addition to our team. She loves working outdoors and has many wonderful ideas about improvements to our Village. You may have noticed some of her handiwork on our sign coming into the Village. She and DPW Chief Steve Siptrott removed the sign and refurbished it in June.
In reference to the signs, we are all working hard to get new welcome signs for each end of the Village. One of our original signs was taken down a few years ago and never replaced. We have obtained quotes for their replacement and hope to find funding in the near future to erect new ones.
We have also resurrected another idea we had a few years ago of obtaining a Village Clock. This idea was tabled when we just could not afford the purchase. Since then we were awarded a New York rural-based grant, and this idea should qualify for that funding. I have also had conversations with local business owners who seemed interested in this as well. We now need to proceed with finding the right location for the clock, which due to requirements within the grant needs to be within the "business" district of the Village. One location mentioned in our conversations was the corner of Mill and Main Streets. It would seem to be the perfect spot to coincide with the new Mill Street bridge and our yet to be finished park. This area used to be Village property and was an area for people to gather and relax,. featuring a "boardwalk" and information board. We believe that at some point in the past, the area was returned to private ownership. The Village would like to re-obtain this small area and develop seating, plantings, an information center, and (we hope) a Village Clock! As a side note, several of our Village businesses are planning improvements using this grant money!
We all believe this would be a great addition to that ever-improving section of our Village. The Mill Street bridge is in its final stages of completion. When completed, we will again begin work on our park. It has been frustrating for all of us to not be able to continue with that project, but with all the construction traffic in that area, it just didn't make sense to proceed at that time. The Village has obtained all permits and permission to continue, so as soon as all that machinery has left, we will continue. As always, we are open to any ideas our Village residents have concerning this project. Anyone with concerns or comments may e-mail, snailmail, or call the Village office. Or even better, stop by our Village board meetings!
We have also had many conversations about improvements to our overpass area. As I've said before, this structure provides a wonderful gateway to our community. We need to treat it as such and continue to improve on it. Our most important idea is to paint the existing structure. One might think this is an easy undertaking, but believe me, it's not. The logistics of just putting a fresh coat of paint on the structure has been a nightmare. First of all, no one wants to take ownership of the overpass. The New York State Department of Transportation says "we don't care what you do with it; its not ours; just be sure to put cones up when working on it!" The railroad hasn't existed in years, so it's not theirs, and the property owners of the adjacent properties are not going to claim it for a very important reason: who is going to pay for its removal someday when it has to come down?
That question, as important as it is, cannot hold us back from improvements. With Board approval, I would like to move forward with the painting in the spring -- at least painting the lower concrete portions and perhaps applying our logo on the east side, welcoming people to our Village. The upper portion will be much more difficult to proceed with, just because of the obvious obstacles it presents. Our plan would be to paint the lower section in gray and the top maroon. Stay tuned for further developments!
We have also discussed the issue of changing our street signs. By law, we have to change all of our signage in the Village by 2015 to the new "highly reflective" materials. They also need to be lettered in just the right way. First letter capitalized, the rest lower case. Keeping this in mind, my thought is to make all of our street-name signs in our Village color, maroon, with white letters. We are in the process of obtaining permission to allow us this privilege. But we have heard nothing as of yet.
We are also moving forward with both sewer and natural gas within the Village at some later date. As far as the sewer, each time we don't get chosen for grant money we are awarded points and move up the list. This is a long process and may take several years, but at least it's on the horizon. As far as natural gas goes, I have heard only rumors on this front. I did hear a few weeks ago that there was actually a contract awarded to a contractor to run the lines up from Montour Falls, but I was unable to get any substantiation of that rumor. This would be a huge improvement to our Village, with cost savings to our residents, business owners and the school.
As part of our five-year road plan, we were able to pave Fowler Place this summer and rehabilitate much of our street drainage system. This was funded by the CHIPS program, which is money allotted by the State. We were also able to install a section of sidewalk adjacent to our DPW facility. We would like to do more of this in sections throughout the Village as money allows. Thank yous go out to our fine DPW staff on these projects.
One issue this summer that affects all of us is the potential closing of the Monterey Shock Camp. I'm sure that many of you have been following this issue with as much concern as I have. I am also sure many of you know how much our Village utilizes this asset. Over the past four years, Monterey Shock Camp has spent almost 4,000 hours helping our Village. Not only is this service vitally important to our community, I have firsthand knowledge of what this program means to many of the young offenders it has helped over its years of operation. Several years ago, I was a manager of a landscape company in Ithaca. I hired a young man who had grown up in New York City and had been in trouble most of his life. He had been graduated from Monterey only a week when I hired him. To this day, 15 years later, he is still employed at the landscape firm, and he credits all to his experience at Monterey Shock Camp. So please, if you haven't done so, sign one of the many petitions being circulated in our area to keep this vital resource alive. You can find a copy of the petition at our Village offices.
I am happy to say that the Village held a second Dumpster Day this year in September and it was again a huge success, with many residents taking advantage of this service. Please let us all know if this is something that is helpful and if we should continue to have two per year. With all the refuse we have received over the past few years, you all may be running out of things to get rid of!
The last bit of news I want to share with you is another possible grant reward to the Village. Our Village clerk, Kristi, applied for this grant way back in 2005 and has stayed diligent over it since then. It is a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recycling grant that we applied for when we purchased our new wood chipper. Kristi was advised this week that we will probably be receiving the grant in the near future. The grant will be roughly $8,000 -- about half of the original chipper purchase. Part of the reason we are receiving the grant is the large volume of recycling our Village does. Our best guess is that we recycle between 40 to 50 tons of tree waste per year. Something we can all be proud of!
In closing, I want to remind you all of what a great Village we live in. Many Villages our size continue to struggle with just staying solvent. We, too, have our problems to overcome, but I'm proud to say your Village representatives continue to look to the future to find innovative ways for the Village to grow and prosper. It's never easy and it always seems to take so long to accomplish our goals, but rest assured we will get there; we will be an example to all those other small Villages that it can be done!
Thank you again.
Keith T. Pierce
Note: To reach the Odessa government page, click here.
Village Board members
Pictured below, from left: Mayor Keith Pierce and Village Board Trustees Robin Thoman, Shawn Crane, Thomas Letteer Jr. and Sally Hill.
Mayor: Keith Pierce
Trustees: Robin Thoman, Shawn Crane, Thomas Letteer, Sally Hill
Village Clerk: Kristi Pierce, 300 E. Main St., Odessa, 594-2100
Department of Public Works: Steven Siptrott
Village Justice: Ronald Goossen
Municipal Building: 300 E. Main St., Odessa, 594-2100, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Dutton S. Peterson Memorial Library: 106 First St., Odessa, 594-2791
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Thomas Gifford, Dennis Fagan, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone
Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967
Doris L. Karius, 546-5544
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385
Thomas Gifford, Montour Falls
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen
Stewart Field, Reading Center
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
United States Senate
U.S. Rep. Tom Reed
United States House of Representatives
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 415, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Christopher Friend
-- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869