Adirondack Town Of Franklin
Adirondack Town Of Franklin

Town of Franklin Board Meetings

Regular Board Meeting
March 9, 2009 - 7:00 pm

Board members Present:

Supervisor Mary Ellen Keith
Councilman Allen Berg
Councilman Walt Kretser
Councilwoman Janet Ordway
Councilman Clifford Smalley

Others Present:

Highway Superintendent Jacques DeMars, Town Clerk Sandra Oliver, Doug Ferris - Earth Science Engineering, Brian Burke - Architect, Sean Reynolds - Dept. Environmental Conservation, Joann Gerrish, Greg Bechard, Richard Brandt, Frank Karl, Vince Catlin, Dave Whitson, Donald Goff, Brad Merrill, Don Vorrath, Don & Doris Hamm, Jim & Nancy Hauber, Susan Grenier, Janine Taylor, Jean Baltzly, Dick Jarvis, Nathan Brown - Adk Daily Enterprise


Supervisor Keith called the meeting to order at the Town Garage at 7:00 pm. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited; the Town Clerk called the roll and stated the full board was present.


The following claims were submitted on Abstract #3 of 2009:
GeneralClaims 53 - 78$23,761.03
HighwayClaims 25 - 38$8,521.06
Prepay GeneralClaims 7 - 11$1,098.59
The following claims were submitted for payment on Abstract #2 of 2009:
Capital Project BuildingClaims 3$6,999.73
The following claims were submitted for payment on Abstract #1 of 2009:
Fire ProtectionClaims 1 - 2$52,494.89

Coun. Berg inquired about the payment to Franklin Snowmobilers and asked if members of the snowmobile clubs also contribute, and Coun. Ordway replied that they did.

Coun. Berg commented that each time either the Highway Dept. of Town Custodian needs supplies the trip into Saranac Lake costs $20 and suggested these trips be consolidated.

Coun. Smalley questionedbelieves the skating rink is of value and asked whether it was worth the Town Custodian's time to maintain a skating rink at the Rec Park. He asked if the rink had been used this winter, and Supv. Keith indicated it had been used by skaters and she also noticed cross-country ski tracks.

Motion to approve claims (A.Berg-W.Kretser m/s/p) ALL AYE


The minutes of the February 9, 2009 meeting were accepted as presented. (J.Ordway-C.Smalley m/s/p) ALL AYE

(J.Ordway-C.Smalley m/s/p) ALL AYE


Balances as of February 1, 2009

General FundCK$29,289.92
Highway FundCK$41,040.36
Cap Proj Hwy$16,367.30
Cap. BuildingCLASS$24,617.11

Motion to accept Supervisor's Report (W.Kretser-A.Berg m/s/p) ALL AYE


Doug Ferris, Earth Science Engineering, reported his firm had, on two different days and under Dept. of Environmental Conservation supervision, excavated test holes at the Norman Ridge site where illegal dumping had taken place. In an effort to locate possible pollution, on the first day, 12 surface pits 4 feet deep had been dug and nothing but construction debris was found (concrete, discarded wood, etc.). On the second day 8 test trenches 6 to 8 feet in depth were dug and no petroleum products or discarded batteries were found. On the second day of excavation, a DEC official was on site to review and inspect the findings. Mr. Ferris has had experience with this type of illegal dumping, and thought that DEC will recommend earth removal and screening of unauthorized materials. He remains hopeful that although a consent order against the Town is working its way through the administrative process at DEC, if the Town acts quickly with removal and screening, the consent order may not be necessary. The closed landfill is .9 acres. No encroachments were found on anyone's property. All boundary markers have been located.

The surveyor couldn't find all the boundary markers

If a marker has been removed, the surveyor will reset it.

One hole had a very bad odor

Yes, some organic material was present.

Why didn't you dig test holes where Don Goff suggested?

We were following DEC orders, and DEC instructed us where to excavate. We will clean up the entire site. If we find contaminates we will take care of it.


Mr. Ferris then commenced a walking tour of the Town Garage.

Mr. Ferris explained that the garage had been constructed twenty years ago, and Whiteface Construction had done a good job in building it. However, buildings have a finite age, and the building's life expectancy was 20 years. Unlike a piece of equipment, you can't resell a municipal building or use it as a down payment on another; therefore, it must be replaced or refurbished. Twenty years ago trucks were smaller. Now they are much larger - double axle. Building codes were different 20 years ago; the building does not meet current building codes. The larger vehicles no longer fit into the facility, and employees are less productive because they spend too much time moving trucks around. Heating, ventilation and lighting in the building are inadequate and the ventilation does not meet OSHA standards. Next year, the cost of fuel oil may very well increase. Supv. Keith interposed that in the past 3 months the cost of heating the Town Garage was $7,431. Mr. Ferris continued, noting it was less expensive to refurbish what you have than demolish and construct anew. Refurbishment will cost $95 per sq. ft.; new construction would be $150 per sq. ft. The Town can save $500,000 with refurbishment and will be able to use the building for another 20-plus years. The current building systems pose a risk to employees' health, causes inefficiency among workers and costs too much to heat. Supv. Keith interjected that four employees have been tested for respirator work and each examination costs the Town $70. Mr. Ferris resumed, explaining that thousands had already been spent to correct the drainage problem at the facility. These costs must be borne whether there is a bond or not. The building must meet current building codes. Mr. Ferris indicated he had received telephone calls from various state and federal agencies looking for shovel-ready projects for which funding from the Federal Economic Stimulus Package could be used. He emphasized the Garage Rehabilitation Project was shovel-ready and that the Town might receive funding from the FESP.

Area #1 - Current foot entrance, leads to kitchen and stairs to second floor containing office space. Proposed rehabilitation work will locate the welding area, with improved ventilation in this space.

Area #2 - This is the current repair area. The space is inadequate, the floor is unheated, and employee must lie on their back to perform some of the repair work. Welding takes place in this area, and it is improperly ventilated for this work. Rehabilitation work will involve placement of new concrete radiant flooring, new insulation envelope, and the welding area relocated to Area #1. The overhead doors will be relocated to the northern side of the building.

Areas #3 and #4 - Currently used as truck bays with vehicles are parked one in back of the other. Several weeks ago one of the trucks closest to the doors stalled, and the Highway Dept. lost an hour trying to maneuver trucks in and out. The new configuration would expand the building on the northern and southern sides and relocate the overhead doors to Areas 6 and 7. Each vehicle would have its own bay.

Area #5 - This will be another welding area.

Areas #6 and #7 - Building will be expanded on the northern and southern sides of the structure. As presently configured, winds from the west blow into the building whenever the overhead doors are opened. Relocation of the overhead doors to the north and south sides will alleviate the heat loss. Radiant heating will be installed above and will radiate downwards to heat the area.

The structure walls and ceiling will be reinsulated and will have improved drainage from the roof, sides and floor.


Why welding areas?

Welding is part of service and maintenance of vehicles. There are two separate areas for different types of welding.

Why infloor radiant heating in one part of building and overhead infrared heat in another?

Areas #1 and #2 are smaller and infloor radiant heating is necessary in area #2 because it is the repair area. Employees are required to lie on their backs to work on vehicles. Areas #3 through #7 is a much larger space and infloor heating would be too expensive. There are different safety and health regulations for each space which must be complied with.

What will it cost to bring the building to code without the expansion?

That cost is included in the projected rehabilitation costs. However, a very rough estimate is $450,000 as part of the $770,000 in construction costs.

You said this property is too small for a new building. Why not demolish and building a new structure that will last not another 20, but 50 years?

The Building Committee researched and debated this question for years. This property is large enough for a new building but the cost of new construction is $150 per sq ft - rehabilitation is $95 per sq ft. Demolition costs money, and there is always the problem of continuing the work of the Highway Dept. during construction. After considerable deliberation, the Building Committee, comprised of citizens of the Town, chose rehabilitation of the building as the most cost-effective alternative.

Two walls were bowing because of inadequate roof drainage.

The wall on the north side had a very large bow and has been repaired; there is a slight bow in another wall which will be remedied during rehabilitation.

Is the hydraulic lift still in the plans for rehabilitation? If it has been removed, why is your cost estimate so high?

The lift was removed from the project several months ago. The cost of heating and ventilation work was higher than anticipated.

I don't see the need for separate bays for each truck. If it snows, all the trucks are out anyway. Why do you need a separate bay for each truck?

The problem is that not all of the trucks are sent out to plow at the same time. Employees are working in shifts during the winter, and each employee has a specific area of town to plow.

This block building has footings that are extremely deep and heavy. I don't think it's a good idea to change the configuration of it. Also, it would be more efficient to heat this place if the berm had not been removed. This is on 5.5 acres of land; there's lots of room for additional buildings. The electrical system would be easy to bring up to code. When it was originally put in, it met all the codes. Block buildings last up to 50 years.

There are insulation problems here which developed over many years. On this piece of property of 5.5 acres, new construction will cost $150 per sq. ft.; rehabilitation costs $95 per sq. ft. The electrical system is not up to current code; repairs have been mere band-aids. Rehabilitations provide more leeway with codes; new buildings have numerous and more stringent code requirements. In addition, the cost of demolition might prove to be prohibitive.

The Town of Brighton built a steel building with 5 heated bays.

This will have 7 bays.

The Brighton garage was built several years ago.

Over $7,000 to heat this place over the past 3 months. It sounds like energy savings will pay for the rehabilitation of this place. Makes sense.

There are very positive aspects to rehabilitation.

Here is a quote from Conroy & Conroy for a 60x60 steel building including heated floor, 3 bays, and power door, combining all specifications at a cost of $465,000. You can remove the west wall and erect a wooden wall. The steel building can fit next to the salt shed. You don't need toilets, etc. in the steel building. You'll get 20 or more years out of this. And I can't believe it will cost $450,000 to bring this structure up to code.

You're suggesting the purchase of a steel building at $465,000 plus the $450,000 to bring this building up to code? That's $915,000, more than the $800,000 bond amount - almost $1 million.

How much has been spent in engineering fees over the past 10 years?

Supv. Keith responded the Capital Building Fund had $160,000 and with these latest charges, has now $7,000.00

Why wasn't the building kept up all these years?

It's a problem common to all municipalities. Elected officials must keep taxes down; most of the time this means eliminating necessary repairs and minor upgrades. Most communities use a band-aid approach and repair items for a short-term fix. Eventually repairs and upgrades become critical. It happens in towns all the time.

We have a Codes Officer; why hasn't he inspected the Garage?

With all due respect to your part-time Codes Officer, he is busy inspecting private residences; it probably has not occurred to him to inspect the Garage.

You've spent $145,000 from the Capital Building Fund. I've talked to our representatives and you can't count on receiving federal stimulus funds. In addition, those funds come with strings attached.

Supv. Keith stated the Town Board has a duty to maintain and improve the infrastructure of the Town of Franklin. In order to do this efficiently and so as not to waste money, we consulted experts and undertook a study of our infrastructure needs.

Coun. Smalley added that the bond would cost $35 per 100,000 of assessed value over 20 years, not $35 per year. Interest rates are lower than in decades, contractors are anxious to bid on this project, and the Town is in the best it will ever be in to accomplish this project. The Highway Garage contains millions of dollars of equipment which should be adequately maintained so tax dollars are not squandered. The Garage needs work now. If the bond does not go through, the Town will have to borrow money anyway to get repairs and upgrades done piecemeal.

The Board thanked Messrs. Ferris and Burke for their tour, report and responses to questions.


A. SUPERINTENDENT'S REPORT: Highway Supt. Jacques DeMars reported as follows:


a. .Plowed and sanded as needed;

b. Pushed back banks with loader

c. CHPS funding has been reinstated by Governor Paterson although not yet approved by Legislature.

d. Blacktop contract searched on NYS OGS but no new contract finalized by State. Contacted Saranac Lake Quarries re blacktop prices, but still not sure.

e. Met with Dan Levy of NYS DEC regarding cutting back trees and brush on some of the Town roads, especially Oregon Plains.

f. Spoke with Keith White at School Garage. The schoolbus drivers are very satisfied with the condition of the roads.


a. Repairs. Supt. DeMars indicated he reviewed the 2009 budget and understood that $20,000 had been set aside for repairs to the front loader. He received a quote from Caterpillar regarding repairs in sum of $27,000. The vehicle may lose its transmission and the repair bill would be even higher. A new loader will cost $111,500. Nortrax will look at it and give a quote. Donald Hamm inspected the loader. It is Supt. DeMars' understanding that 9500 hours on the vehicle is a tenuous time.

b. New Purchase. The following figures were gathered re new loader purchase:

Trade-in value is $33,000

$100,000 loan or lease payment:

5 years @ 4.50%: $22,839 = 114,195

6 yrs @ 4.75%: $19,610 = 117,660
7 yrs @ 5.00%: $17,355 = 121,485

B. SALT PRICES: Harrietstown Hwy. Supt. Donaldson received an offer to supply salt at $71 per ton delivered, with a 5-year contract. A commitment must be made by March 17th.. Whatever is ordered must be received all at once. Supt. Donaldson thinks this is a good idea, and will recommend to Harrietstown Board. The Town of Franklin paid over $80/ton in 2008. Coun. Kretser inquired about alternatives to salt, and Supt. DeMars replied that alternatives have different applicators. The Town's salt supply is holding its own; Supt. DeMars does not

C. 284 AGREEMENT TO SPEND HIGHWAY FUNDS: Due to uncertainty about CHPS funding and the unknown price of asphalt, this matter was tabled to April 13, 2009 meeting.

D. RESIDENT COMPLAINTS: Supt. DeMars requested that if anyone has a complaint about the Highway Dept. performance or condition of roads, that people contact him directly.

E. GARAGE SPILL RE PETROLEUM IN SEPTIC SYSTEM: This case has been cleared by NYS DEC, and the case has been closed. Supv. Keith stated the reports on both matters had been placed in the Town Clerk's office, and anyone who wished to inspect them, would be welcome to do so.

F. HIGHWAY COMMITTEE: Coun. Kretser indicated he had received very positive comments from town residents regarding the fine job the Highway Dept. is doing.


Coun. Berg asked whether it would be feasible to hand the maintenance of County Route 55 to Brighton or St. Armand, as Franklin's portion of the road is between both communities.

Supv. Keith stated that a previous town board had agreed to take over that portion of Co. Rt. 55 from the County. She indicated the Town could ask but could not predict whether the request would be granted.

Good job on the roads, Jacques. Thanks.

Nice letter from Hugh Tyler printed in the Enterprise retracting his criticism of the Dept.


7. SEAN REYNOLDS, DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION. Supv. Keith introduced Mr. Reynolds and stated that the Board had been asked if we had any regrets about approving the easement, and the Board has none. She noted that not everyone has adequate property for hiking camping, canoeing, etc.

Mr. Reynolds then presented an update of DEC progress on the Conservation Easement of the former Domtar Paper lands. He characterized the Conservation Easement as a worthwhile project, although he understands the difficulties people have with the tax situation. His position at DEC is to manage public use and recreation on State land. The Conservation Easement was granted by Chateaugay Woodlands, a division of Lyme Timber in New Hampshire.

The Easement contains linear recreation corridors made from existing trails and roads which can accommodate ATV and snowmobile enthusiasts. In the Town of Franklin, this would include the thoroughfare from Goldsmith Rd. to Co. Rt. 26 and then Co. Rt. 26 to Wolf Pond Rd. DEC hopes that by making this path available the congestion along the power lines. In addition, the Plumadore-Inman waterway provides an access site. The Conservation Easement will represent a substantial recreation resource. In addition, DEC will open lands acquired under the International Paper Conservation Easement. These include the Kushaqua tract, which is scheduled to open to the public on April 22nd.

DEC will be reaching out to hunting clubs and Towns and DEC will provide both motor and non-motor recreation.

Steve Gugliami of DEC worked with the Town of Franklin Town Board and Nature Conservancy to address the recreation needs of the Town of Franklin. Copies of the draft Recreation Management Plan for the Conservation Easement is available at the Franklin Town Hall, and eventually a full Recreation Management Plan will be created.

For the 2009 summer season, the first step in developing facilities will be the posting of signs, creation of parking areas and posting of maps. Proposed facilities are dependent upon available funding and personnel availability. DEC will try to develop strong working relationships with volunteer groups. As time goes on, the facilities will be expanded.

Concerned about the loss of tax revenue to the Town, especially in light of the State placing a cap on real property taxes on State-owned land.

It is important that folks remain as active as possible in opposition to the State cap. Write your State representatives, the Governor, etc.

Will you provide ATV access? Will ATV's be able to travel to Duane? It would be great to be able to travel by ATV through Duane and onto St. Regis Falls.

ATV access on Kushaqua and Domtar properties. However, the Domtar easement is not in the Town of Duane as it is mostly State-owned land which prohibits ATV access. Perhaps in several years this may be possible. Municipalities have concern about ATV's co-mingling with autos. Most attorneys have advised towns not to get involved, however, ATV is a growing sport.

Is there is a trail to the Loon Lake Fire Tower? It is now on the federal Historic Register. How about a parking area?

Yes, it is part of the Kushaqua property. There are plans for a parking area, but not this year. The trail is very rustic. Hopefully some funds will be available for improvement.

When does easement take effect?

It's in effect now. The Kushaqua tract will open to the public on April 22nd.

Will mountain biking be available on the Sable Highlands?

Two trails specifically designated for mountain biking will be made available, but no road access to those trails.

How about horse trails?

DEC thinks it advisable to limit horse trails because of motorized vehicles. They will study the matter and perhaps in the future, there will be horse trails.

The Fish & Game Club is concerned about the "Quiet Waters" movement. What can you tell us about quiet waters?

A Quiet Waters Working Group has been established in Albany. As to progress and impact on Franklin's portion of the Conservation Easement, don't know. I suggest that sportsmen remain vigilant.

How many taxable properties were consumed by the Conservation Easement?

In the Saranac River Use Area, 5 camps on leased landwill be relocated, including ones on Goldsmith Rd. and in the Plumadore-Inman area.


8. PERMISSIVE REFERENDUM ON GARAGE BONDING. State law mandates a permissive referendum be held no less than 60 nor more than 75 days following the presentation of a petition for same to the Town Board. The permissive referendum on the garage bonding will be held during the month of April. Supv. Keith suggested a special meeting be held on Monday, March 23rd at 7:00 pm to adopt the resolution authorizing the referendum and setting the date and times.

SUBDIVISION UPDATE. Coun. Smalley reported the Citizens Advisory Committee on Subdivisions has accomplished 90% of its tailoring the North Hudson Subdivision Law to Town of Franklin specifications. This week the Committee will mail a questionnaire/survey to taxpayers, as follows:

The Town of Franklin Board is involved with two entirely separate efforts at this time:

1. the town garage re-construction; and

2. creating a process and guidelines for the development of major subdivisions in our town.

In May 2008, the Town Board established a Citizens Advisory Committee to draft a town law that will enact guidelines for the creation of major subdivisions of land of five (5) or more lots. Existing building lots or projects creating four (4) or fewer lots are not subject to any proposed guidelines.

There is vacant land in the Town of Franklin that can, and will, be developed in time. The Town Board believes that thoughtful development can benefit our town. This proposed law will insure that development costs and risks (liability) will rest with the applicant/developer implementing major subdivisions and not shift the burden of a failed or incomplete project to the taxpayers. Town residents will have the ability to ask the applicant questions, and the applicant will have the responsibility of responding to these questions before project approval is granted. Good projects that support and benefit our town are encouraged and will be the result of following these proposed guidelines.

This survey is being mailed to all property owners in the Town of Franklin based on the current tax roll. Please complete one survey per family and return it to the Vermontville town hall by Saturday, March 28, 2009. The results of this survey and a summary of the draft major subdivision law will be provided in the town hall, on the town's website (, and at spring 2009 public hearing, all to be announced. Your thoughtful responses will be appreciated.

1. Residency: Year Round     Seasonal
2. What do you like about living in the Town of Franklin? [check all that apply to your family]: Good place to raise a family
Rural residential area
Proximity to Saranac Lake
Proximity to Plattsburgh
Proximity to my/spouse's job
Rolling forested hills/open space


3. Do you support the concept of a town law which would create a public process and establish guidelines for town review of major subdivisions of 5 or more lots?: Yes     No     I Don't Know.
4. The draft law includes opportunities for neighbors and town residents to participate in the review of major subdivisions. If the town board decides to adopt a local law to review major subdivisions of land involving 5 or more lots, who would you prefer to be responsible for making the decisions? [check one]: Town board members elected by town residents
Town board advised by an appointed special committee of residents
Planning board members who are town residents appointed by the town board
5. What is the best way to advise you of the information and schedule for the public hearing on the town's draft major subdivision control law? [check all that apply]: Adirondack Daily Enterprise
Plattsburgh Press Republican
Vermontville Town Hall sign board on Route 3
Town website (
Timewarner Channel 2 Community Bulletin Board
6. Other comments you have related to major subdivision development in the town?:

The next meeting of the Committee will be held on Friday, March 13th from 8:30 am to noon.

Will we have an opportunity to choose whether or not we want this law?

Yes, via the survey being mailed and again at the public hearing after the regulations are finalized.

Does your proposed law contain funding specifics for the retention of an attorney and paying for the people on the board who review the subdivisions?

Are any of you people on the committee trained or certified in land use planning?

Not during the drafting of the regulations.

The Town is paying for the mailing of this survey?


Supv. Keith added that the first land use survey was paid for by a grant from APA.

9. POLLING SITE AGREEMENT. Since Franklin County Board of Elections assumed management of all elections in the County, each year it submits an agreement to the Town designating handicapped-accessible polling sites and requesting signature of the agreement.

Motion for resolution (C.Smalley-J.Ordway m/s/p) ALL AYE


WHEREAS, the Board of Elections of the County of Franklin has submitted an agreement to use the Town's handicapped-accessible polling sites; NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Supervisor is authorized to complete and execute said agreement.

Those voting aye:

Supervisor Mary Ellen Keith
Councilman Walt Kretser
Councilman Al Berg
Councilperson Janet Ordway
Councilman Cliff Smalley

Those Abstaining:


Those Absent:


Those Voting nay:


10. AGREEMENT WITH BRIGGS APPRAISAL. The 2008-09 Assessment Update was postponed for one year due to lack of data collectors. Briggs Appraisal has submitted a contract for the training of data collectors and assistance in property valuation in the amount of $15,000. No funds were paid to Briggs in 2008.

Motion for resolution (W.Kretser-C. Smalley m/s/p) ALL AYE


WHEREAS, an assessment update will be performed in 2009 (postponed from 2008); and

WHEREAS, the Town's assessment data must also be reviewed and revised; and

WHEREAS, upon the recommendation of the Assessor for the Town a contract for data collection has been negotiated with Briggs Appraisal Service not to exceed $15,000; NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED, that the terms and conditions of the contract with Briggs Appraisal Service is hereby accepted and the Supervisor is authorized to execute same.

Those voting aye:

Supervisor Mary Ellen Keith
Councilman Walt Kretser
Councilman Al Berg
Councilperson Janet Ordway
Councilman Cliff Smalley

Those Abstaining:


Those Absent:


Those Voting nay:


11. FIRE/RESCUE UPDATE Coun. Berg reported he met with Bloomingdale Vol. Fire Dept. Chief Mike Cassavaugh and they designated four places for platforms for use by the Fire Dept. Once the weather warms, they will review the rest of the sites. The Town Custodian will build the platforms.


a. Recreation. A skating rink has been established at the Rec Park. Cross-country ski tracks have been seen.

b. Cemetery. Supv. Keith will meet with Town of St. Armand Supervisor Joyce Morency regarding the Union Falls Cemetery.

c. Celebration. Supv. Keith met with Franklin County Clerk Wanda Murtagh regarding Franklin County's 200th Anniversary Celebration. Franklin County requested items to be placed in a 100-year time capsule; Supv. Keith donated a copy of the "They Told Me So" on the 1998 ice storm, as well as a signed copy of the February 2008 minutes of the Town Board.


a. Board members received copies of letters from legislators in response to Resolution No. 8 of 2009 in opposition to the proposed tax cap on State-owned land.

b. Board members also received a report from Ann Holland cataloging her efforts to obtain grant funding for the Town.


As there was no further business to conduct, the meeting adjourned at 9:26 pm. (W.Kretser-A.Berg m/s/p ALL AYE

Respectfully submitted, Sandra J. Oliver, Town Clerk

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P.O. Box 209, Route 3, Vermontville, NY 12989  ·  Tel: 518-891-2189  ·  Fax: 518-891-6389  ·
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