Town of Franklin Board Newsletter
VOLUME 8 ISSUE 2 - The Franklin Flyer Our Town News - APRIL 2017
From the Supervisor
By Art Willman
Town Infrastructure Project Update
I hope this edition of the Franklin Flyer finds you all well. As
we look at the last vestiges of winter, we see the emerging mud
and the remaining piles of “snirt” and look forward to warming,
longer days and, hopefully, a short mud season and greening
grass. That being said, I would like to dedicate this issue to
something we have been working on for a while, namely the
Community Center Project. The usual regular features like the
55+ Club will be back in the next issue.
Looking back over the past 10 years or so, we see a major
infrastructure project was proposed back around 2006, which
included an addition to the Town Hall, a Garage addition and
renovation, and a Community Center at Kate Mountain Park.
The original price tag for all of this was somewhere in the
neighborhood of $1.7 million dollars. As time passed and
opposition mounted, the project was modified to first drop the
Town Hall addition, then the $750,000 community center
building, and finally the garage project which was defeated in a
referendum when the price tag was $800,000 and finally
dropped when it was dropped to $500,000 and a petition for a
referendum was served to the town, canceling the project
Since we came into office in 2010, most if not all of the items
listed in the Infrastructure Project have been addressed and
taken care of within the normal annual budget. Over at the
garage, we repaired the east end of the garage floor, replaced the
heating system with radiant tube heaters, rebuilt both the front
and rear entry ways, repaired and replaced the insulation and
siding on the north side wall, brought the electrical system up to
code, replaced existing lighting with lower wattage bulbs and
ballasts, installed an alarm system, repaired the roof and gutters,
and built a much-needed pole barn for equipment storage. I
may have neglected to mention an item or two, but you can get
the gist. Let’s proceed.
Over at the Town Hall, we removed the asbestos boarding
from the furnace room, replaced the furnace and oil tank,
replaced the windows and doors, brought the kitchen up to
Health Dept. standards, including installing an ultraviolet
water treatment system, found and extended the well casing
above ground, installed a submersible pump and entry line.
We redid the electrical system to bring it up to code
including a new panel box and service entry, installed a
standby generator, replaced bathroom toilets, and sealed
and insulated the basement sills to stop air infiltration. As
you can see, we haven’t exactly been idle, which brings us
to the third piece of the infrastructure project, that is, a
community center building at Kate Mountain Park.
Community Center to Provide for Town Hall Overflow
You may ask why we need a community center building.
The answer boils down to one main issue: space. Our
Town has used the Town Hall for many decades for a
variety of things including not only meetings and municipal
functions, but as a hall for weddings, funeral receptions,
parties, anniversaries, the Cub Scouts, martial arts training,
dog training, and others too numerous to name. In fact, it
is currently difficult to schedule an evening during the week
because the place is booked. On weekends, especially
during the Spring, Summer, and Fall, building use comes at
a premium. Our kitchen, which we have worked hard to
bring up to Health Dept. standards, provides space for
food preparation for the 55+ Club, some fundraisers for
the Park, and for food preparation and as a source of
drinking water for our Summer Youth Program. However
if more than 40 people are present for an event, things get
very cramped. This was dramatically illustrated recently
when we hosted a public comment session by the DEC, at
which just over 40 people attended and the place was
packed and overflowed into the kitchen. If you have an
event, which requires tables and chairs, the capacity is
Another, somewhat pressing issue is that of the Justice
Court. Our Town Justice has a rather cramped office with
which he has made do for over 30 years. During that time the Unified Court System has issued standards
requiring additional space for a courtroom as well as a separated
entry and exit for the judge. We are not even close to being in
compliance with these standards and someday, we may be given
an ultimatum to comply and a short time limit in which to do it.
The answer to this could be one of three possibilities: we could
build a separate court house dedicated to the court as many
municipalities have done, we could build an addition onto the
Town Hall, the issue would be where, or we could repurpose
existing space for a courtroom. I think the third solution makes
the most sense, but what space would we repurpose? This is
where the community center building presents itself as a
solution to our problems.
To begin with, a community center, constructed at Kate
Mountain Park would provide a great deal of new available
space. We would move and reinstall our kitchen in the new
building; a hall would provide space for around 100 people plus
tables, chairs, etc. The downstairs, walkout basement would
provide valuable storage space for things we have to keep
forever as well as a good sized space for messy things like arts
and crafts and other activities, especially during our summer
program. Importantly, it would provide a very safe place for our
kids to go in the event of severe weather. The water system
would provide potable water so that water wouldn’t have to be
carted from the Town Hall as is currently done. The summer
meals program would operate out of the kitchen, removing it
entirely from the Town Hall. One thing it would provide is
something we don’t have now and that is rest room access for
people who use the Park. Whether it is for ball games, folks
who use our trails for hiking, skiing, etc., or for people who love
to come berry picking during the season, or hiking over on the
State land which borders our park and, we have been assured, is
coming soon, we plan to have a restroom feature, open from
sunup to sundown to provide access. It would, I feel, greatly
increase the use of our park, not only by Franklin residents, but
also by folks from the surrounding region.
I mentioned repurposed space for the courtroom. By moving
our kitchen to the community center, we can then use the
vacated space to repurpose into a courtroom. This will make us
compliant with the Unified Court System and we could cross
that off a long-standing list.
I have heard it said that a new building would pose a burden to
our taxpayers in the form of additional maintenance and upkeep.
Although this is true to some extent, we plan on keeping both
the maintenance and upkeep costs to a minimum by using low
maintenance materials, using up-to-date construction practices,
and energy efficient lighting and appliances. In the end, when all
is considered and all the things we would gain factored in, we
will find that the building would be an asset.
We have been working with the Adirondack North Country
Association and NYSERDA to optimize our energy usage, not
just for the new building, but also throughout all of our
buildings. For one thing, we have been working on a Clean
Energy Communities Project which, when complete, will make
us eligible for a $100,000 energy grant. We are currently 75%
complete with our requirements and closing fast. This money
would have to be used for energy savings.
One of the very real possibilities would be to use this money to
install a 33KW solar array at the Park. An array of this size
would provide 130% of our current energy usage at the garage
and town hall, leaving plenty of electricity for the new building.
But wait, there’s more. We are also working with Smart Watt, an
outfit that has contracted with National Grid to do energy
efficiency upgrades. Smart Watt is going to help us to find
money to replace all the lighting at the garage and Town Hall
with super-efficient LED lighting, both indoors and outdoors.
This would cut our energy usage by about half which means we
could direct the savings into another account such as street
lighting, which is our single greatest electrical cost. Also we plan
to use all interior and exterior lighting in the new building right
from the start, making this building super energy efficient and
So how are we, as a Town, going to accomplish all of this stuff?
The answer lies in a 3-pronged approach to financing. Our best
estimates, at this point, are that the community center building
will cost about $500,000, excluding the solar component, which
we will approach separately. In short, if we do not get the grant,
we do not do the solar component. The cost of the building
depends on a number of things, but suffice it to say for now we
will use this figure.
First off, we would, with taxpayer approval, secure a Bond
Anticipation Note in the total amount of $500,000. This would
be distributed over time to cover the costs of constructing the
building and other associated costs. When the building is
complete, we will look to bond in the amount of $250,000 to pay
off half of the BAN. The term of the bond would be 5 years.
The remainder of the BAN would be paid off by a $100,000
grant from the Dormitory Authority of the State of NY, which
we have been awarded with the help of Betty Little’s Office. The
remainder would be paid off from funds the Town currently has.
There is currently $65,000 in our Capital Projects Fund and $35,
000 in the Kate Mountain Park Special Reserve Fund. I am
especially proud of the last two figures. When we first took
office, there was $460 in the Capital Fund and the Kate
Mountain Fund did not exist. The KMPSRF was started to set
aside a place for donations and grant funds designated
specifically for improvements at the park. These donations come
from groups like the Republican and Democratic committees
who sponsor our Founders’ Day Picnic. The Future is Now
which sponsors our Autumn Leaves/Punkin’ Chunkin’ Festival
and the delicious meals we have about four times a year. The
Republican Committee, which sponsors our growing golf
tournament. When you attend or participate in these events, it
goes to the Park Fund. I would also like to thank our many
donors who have made this possible as well. As I said, in 4
years, these groups have donated, with the help of many folks
who volunteered to work these events, most of the $35, 000. As
for the increase from $460 to $65,000, in the Capital Fund, we
can chalk that up to sound fiscal management and lots of help.
But I digress.
As you can see, we would be asking our taxpayers to enter into a
Bond obligation for $250,000 for 5 years. Our history over the
last decade regarding bonding shows a good deal of opposition
to bonding. This is probably for a variety of reasons. If, after
what I have explained here, this opposition still exists, I would
like to hear from you now, not after this process gets too much
farther down the road.
To accomplish this, I am scheduling three informal
“conversations” so that anyone who wants to can air his or her
grievances. I am looking at May 2nd, 16th, and 30th at 6pm. Lauren
and I will make ourselves available to address all of your
concerns. Since more complete information arrives every day, I
should have some more solid numbers by then.
As it stands now, and by Dick Meagher’s best estimate, a
$250,000 bond would cost taxpayers about $22 per $100,000 of
assessed value for each year for 5 years. After that, the bond
ends. I have heard some people comment that “taxes go up, they
never to down.” First, the bond does not change the amount of
your overall tax levy. Any increases in your levy would still have
to be at or below the Tax Cap, so there would not be a significant
increase out of the ordinary. We have strived for years to keep
our levies at or below whatever is deemed to be the Tax Cap,
usually below 1%. This will continue to be the case. Please
remember that this applies only to Town taxes. County taxes,
which appear on the same bill are separate, as are School Taxes
which we all see in the Fall.
It is important to keep in mind what we stand to gain from this
proposition. We would gain an energy efficient space that would
lend itself to a variety of new possibilities in addition to things we
currently do. It would provide additional space for the storage of
a variety of materials. It would provide needed safe space for the
children in the Summer Program. It would free up space at the
Town Hall that would be repurposed as a bona fide courtroom,
putting us finally in compliance with Unified Court System
standards. In all, it is a small price to pay for so much.
I would like to hear from all of you, whether pro or con. The
rubber is about to meet the road; so the sooner I get input, the
better. There is a brief questionnaire in this edition for your
convenience. You can also email us at the following:
firstname.lastname@example.org. You can give us a call at the
Town Hall at (518) 293-1383, or feel free to call me at home at
(518) 293-1383. You can also send your thoughts via US Mail to
PO Box 209, Vermontville, NY, 12989. Remember: Your input
One other thought before I close: Please don’t forget our roast
beef dinner on April 22nd from 4-7 pm. Takeouts are available
from 3:30 at 891-2189/ All our proceeds to the Kate Mountain
Park Special Reserve Fund. Hope to see you all there.
That’s about it for now. Until next time, be well.
55+ Club Meetings
2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the Month(winter 12 noon; 6pm summer) at the Town Hall, Vermontville. Contact Mary Ellen Keith 891-1619
Town Board Meetings
5:30 p.m. (Winter), 2nd Wednesdays of the Month at the Town Hall, Vermontville
St. Paul's Food Pantry
Building behind Town Hall.
Distribution one day a month and as needed...
Make out donations to St. Paul's Food Pantry
C/o Mary Ellen Keith, 9 Tyler Rd, Vermontville, NY