The Village of Trumansburg held a State of the Village meeting Jan. 26 at the Trumansburg Village Hire Hall, where the Village trustees spoke about a wide range of topics.
Rordan Hart, Trumansburg Village Mayor, kicked off the meeting by speaking about some of the board’s notable accomplishments of 2018.
This includes the recent formation of a street tree advisory committee, which is a revival of a group that existed 10 years ago, the mayor said.
“It is not meant, as name suggests, to suggest in any way a tree inventory on private property—there are a whole host of problems that would come with that if we chose to do it—but there are a lot of trees in right of way, many of them very old,” Hart said. “Standard policy has been that either DPW [Department of Public Works] or NYSEG [New York State Electric and Gas Corporation] or New York State would chop it up, and I would like to take a more proactive approach, not just for old trees in danger of falling down soon but to maintain the tree inventory that we have in that area.”
Comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance review will also be on the plate this coming year, Hart said. A request for proposals [RFP] went out last summer, and the Village received offers from two firms who thought they could achieve the work outlined in the RFP in the Village’s aggressive 30-month timeline.
Jan. 9 the Trumansburg Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Revision Committee heard from the principals from Environmental Design & Research [EDR], and Hart said he “found them very impressive.” Hart said he expects the committee will soon give the Board of Trustees a recommendation on whether or not to hire the firm.
“It’s not often that you hear people speak about planning and zoning issues and you can tell that they really know their stuff,” Hart said.
This past year was a big one for the Trumansburg Police Department. Chief Tom Ferretti retired after more than 50 years in law enforcement and more than 40 years as Trumansburg chief. A community award was established in his honor, with the first award going to the Trumansburg Robotics Club.
Chief Joe Nelson stepped in to take Ferretti’s place. With over 26 years of experience with the New York State Police and experience as a community safety educator and school resource officer, local officials said Nelson was an ideal fit for the Trumansburg community.
Nelson established two full-time officers, Mackenzie Covert and Benjamin Wright, who are the first local officers to be instated full-time. Previously, 22 part-time officers were on the roster in order to fill the monthly schedule, some of whom commuted more than an hour to work in Trumansburg. Often they came in after a full shift at another department.
Having full-time officers offers scheduling consistency, familiarity with the community, investigation efficiency, officers who live locally, opportunities for community engagement, and development of community outreach programs, according to Keith Hannon, Trumansburg Village Trustee.
Hannon gave an overview of the number of calls the department received in 2018. There were 1,972 total incidents, including criminal investigations (150 total, the majority of which were domestic disputes or other types of disputes) and non-criminal investigations such as parking complaints and traffic stops.
“I’m happy to report that the majority of calls are noncriminal, so that’s a good thing, but we’re trying to be very proactive as a department,” Hannon said. “We know that there’s growing problems all around us with regards to opioids and other serious issues, and we don’t want to be reactive.”
One member of the public asked if the department now offers coverage to the village 24-hours-a-day, to which Hannon replied it does not. Hart chimed in to say that the officers’ schedules shift frequently to fit the needs of the area at different times of year, but he said the Village does not want to divulge the exact times when officers are on duty.
The presentation then moved on to Fire and Rescue, which covers 56 square miles and logged a total of 4,525 volunteer hours, including training.
“That’s really an outstanding number,” said Ben Darfler, Trumansburg Village Trustee. “If you think about a 40 hour week, that’s over 100 forty-hour weeks…that’s a really incredible number.”
The department responded to a total of 370 calls in 2019.
“We are very fortunate that young people—it tends to be men but women as well—want to be cops and firefighters,” Hart said. “They want to run into burning buildings, and God bless them for it. We’re fortunate on that particular issue with our volunteer numbers; others around us are not as fortunate, so we’re picking up a lot of that slack.”
It was noted that Trumansburg EMS has seen a steady increase in the number of calls between 2014 and 2018, jumping from 888 to 959 in the last year alone. In the 2017 calendar year there were 923 calls; 298 were basic life support calls, and 342 were advanced life support.
The EMS department has a total budget of of $865,000, 32 percent of which is covered by billing revenue received.
Deb Watkins gave an overview of the water department. In 2018 there were eight water main breaks, Watkins said, and there has been one so far in 2019.
The waste water treatment project was completed at $100,000 under budget, and there is a continuing investigation of inflow and infiltration in the distribution system.
Watkins gave some money-saving techniques related to water use. Low flow toilets can save a family of four up to 16,500 gallons a year. One drip per second can amount to five gallons a day.
Residents are urged to reuse towels; keep your shower under five minutes to save up to 1,000 gallons a month. Soak pots and pans rather than running water as you scrape, and while you are waiting for water to become hot, collect the running water to water plants.
At the end of the meeting, many of the questions posed during the Q&A period had to do with 46 South Street, a proposed mixed-use residential development.
“I get the sense,” said Hart after several people spoke against the project, “that, in my mind, there are growing concerns with respect to this project and how the [Trumansburg] Planning Board is adjudicating it.”
“This board can’t stop it it going in,” Hart said. “This village board could dissolve the planning board, but I get the sense the will doesn’t exist to do that.”
“In general there seems to be a growing sentiment that anything short of an eminent domain seizure by the Village of that property to currently keep it green space—that anything short of that would be unsatisfactory,” Hart added.
“Let’s all be very careful what we ask this governing body to do with respect to your property rights,” he cautioned the members of the public. “This board does have the authority to do things like that; nothing can be done to stop us short of the State Supreme Court…I always get very nervous when we say ‘I want that to happen over there.’ Because what are the unintended consequences of that down the road?”