New Milford looks to gas service

BY STACI WILSON

New Milford may be closer to seeing natural gas service made available in the town.

Main St. residents reported they had received questionnaires from Leatherstocking but had questions they posed to council Thursday night.

Council explained that Leatherstocking Natural Gas had received PUC approval to act as a local gas distributor in the borough.

Council President Teri Gulick said the survey was “to assess the interest in our area.” But she said, even if residents completed the survey, that did not commit them to hooking up to natural gas.

Audience members had questions about the charges they could expect to pay if they converted their homes to natural gas.

Although Leatherstocking representatives made themselves available to borough residents at a meeting a few weeks ago, few people attended that meeting, council members reported.

In an attempt to clarify some of the information included on the survey, Councilman Larry White said, “They run the pipe to your home, then it’s up to you to contract with someone to complete the hook-up.”

Council may attempt to schedule an open house event for residents and Leatherstocking representatives in an effort to answer questions from the community.

The 35 mph speed limit on Main St. (Route 11) was also of concern to meeting attendees.

A Main St. resident said she would be collecting signatures on a petition to present to PennDOT in an effort to have the speed limit of the town’s main thoroughfare lowered to 25 mph.

Council also discussed the possibility of adding pedestrian crosswalks on Main St.

White said, “I don’t think there is anyone here who is against lowering the speed limit.”

But, he said he had heard from one resident who did not want the speed limit lowered.

Councilman Rick Ainey said, “(Lowering the speed limit) is only as good as enforcement. If taxpayers want to pay more, we can hire more police.”

“I know there’s a difference in the speeding on Main St. I know for a fact that people step on their brake as soon as the hit the junkyard,” Ainey said. The junkyard is located on the northern end of New Milford where the speed limit is reduced from 55 mph to 35 mph.

“It’s an acknowledgement to police that you don’t know where they are,” he said.

One woman present in the audience said traffic would be slowed by lowered limits by “people who obey the law. It’s going to slow me down and the traffic behind me is going to slow down, too.”

She said she would like to see the speed limit lowered for safety and noise reasons.

Gulick said that PennDOT had agreed, at one time, to conduct a feasibility study.

Gulick suggested the borough begin getting the “ball rolling” on a traffic study that covers the entire length of Main St. in the borough.

Ainey said, “We need to make it known we did not authorize an expense. It’s a great idea as long as it’s for nothing.”

Council also discussed the status of various codes enforcement issues in the borough, including a property located behind the new senior housing complex that was determined to be violation of the zoning ordinance.

Zoning Hearing Board member Eleanor Lempke said the meeting day, Feb. 7, would have been the last available day the property owner had to appear the board’s decision.

Mayor Joe Taylor said the borough should consider how it will address emergency access to Montrose St. and Peck Hill during the course of bridge project expected to begin in 2014.

Taylor suggested contacting the Army Corps of Engineers to see if an emergency access bridge could be installed in the Cobb St. area for the duration of the project.

The creation of an official Recreation Board is moving forward. The board will have to be created by ordinance.

Ainey asked the ordinance be sent to the solicitor for review.

“This makes the recreation board an actual part of New Milford Borough government,” Ainey said. “It will protect them as much as it does the borough.”

Karen Gudykunst asked, “Does this then dissolve any current parks committees in place from past years?”

Ainey said the Parks Committee has never been part of the borough as there was not formal incorporation of it and acting on behalf of borough without any real authority to do so.

Councilwoman Donna Cosmello said, “This is a little more structured.”

Gulick said, “We have had some wonderful people on the parks association over the years. We are hoping they will come in and be a part of the board.”

The borough park recently received a $25,000 grant for its pool project from the Constitution Pipeline; and Equipment Transport also gave $5,000 towards the project.

Council voted to set up an account at the Community Foundation of the Endless Mountains for the pool money. The Foundation will administer the account, much like it did for the EMHS-Cabot Community Challenge campaign.

“They feel it’s a very good project,” Cosmello said.

She also said that the money would be used only for the pool upgrade project and not for the operation and/or the administration of the park.

Council agreed the focus for the pool is to have a lift installed so the facility can open this coming summer.

Cosmello said, “We need to get that pool open for the kids of New Milford; we’ll worry about the other amenities later.”

In addition to stepping down as the borough tax collector, Vicki Drake also resigned as the borough’s pool manager, effective Feb. 3. The borough is now looking for a new pool manager.