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Albion village and town talk joint projects, services

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 December 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Officials from the Town of Albion at left met with officials from the Village of Albion at right during a joint session this evening at Hoag Library.

ALBION – Officials from the village and town of Albion had a rare joint meeting this evening and they talked about ideas to make local parks and the downtown business district stronger, while also sharing services for highway projects.

The Town Board said it would give $8,000 toward the village parks program. The village currently spends about $50,000 annually on parks. The town officials said they want the village to specify where the town money will go for parks.

Village officials said it was a reasonable request. The attorneys for the town and village will discuss how an agreement should be written for any town funding at the parks.

The town also said it would be interested in helping pay towards an event coordinator. Sid Beaty has been serving in that part-time position. She helped plan a debut downtown concert series on Thursdays last summer, as well as other events.

The village is debating bringing her back at about $10,000 a year. Trustee Stan Farone said the Village Board is pleased with her work, but the village budget is a challenge.

The town would consider helping pay towards Beaty’s position, but Town Supervisor Matt Passarell would like a list of projects Beaty would work on. Town Councilman Jake Olles also would like to have Beaty or whoever serves in the role possibly be available for projects in the town.

The town is also open to helping fund the downtown concert series, but Passarell said he would like to see a plan for promoting the event.

When Olles asked the village how the town could help with the concert series, Farone was quick to respond.

“Money,” Farone said.

Farone and village officials said they want the concerts to return in 2015. The village is open to another venue for the concerts besides a closed off East Bank Street.

Bobby Skrzypek And The Pedestrians performed last July in the Albion concert series.

Farone said the canal bank area is being considered. Town Councilman Todd Sargent said the green space by a village parking on Main Street, between the Presbyterian Church and El Gallo restaurant, also might be a good possibility.

The town and village officials were praised for their service by Carolyn Ricker, owner of Bindings Bookstore and president of the Albion Merchants Association.

Ricker was unable to attend the meeting this evening, but Lisa Stratton, owner of the Hazy Jade Gift Shop, handed each official a letter from Ricker.

Ricker said many of the downtown merchants are struggling as many shoppers are “Walmart-minded.” The Merchants have organized many events and promotions. Ricker asked the elected officials to shop at the locally owned businesses and attend many of the downtown events.

“If the leadership in our town shopped locally and supported the downtown businesses and talked about that, others may follow suit,” Ricker said.

The two boards talked about an idea to have speakers in the downtown playing music and broadcasting announcers at local parades. Wireless speakers could be added to Main Street and the downtown for about $10,000, village officials said.

Olles initially proposed the idea last year. He said he would continue to support the effort with town funds.

The village and town also committed to working out any issues to get the final pieces installed in the downtown from a Streetscape grant. Some concrete planters with trees still need to be introduced to the downtown as part of the grant.

The village and town have stepped up their efforts with shared services for highway projects in recent years. Todd Sargent, a town councilman, also works for the village DPW. He said the village, towns and county have done far more road work and other projects together recently than 20 years ago.

“We’re doing more now than ever before,” he said.

About once a week the municipalities work on a project together. Passarell said the municipalities should document that work to show the state the shared services at the local level.

Passarell said he would be open to more shared services. He would like to discuss the village maintaining town water and sewer lines. The town has nine water districts that the town highway workers maintain. The village provides the water for the districts.

The two boards said they would like to continue the joint meetings, perhaps once every six weeks to two months. They want to identify ways to reduce costs.

“We all have a responsibility to deliver services to taxpayers and try to keep taxes down,” said Town Councilman Richard Remley.