Andes protests polling place shutdown

By Matthew J. Perry
Andes officials are protesting a Delaware County Board of Elections recommendation that would see a long-established polling site closed.
Following the special election of New York’s 20th Congressional District last month, board commissioners William Campbell and Janice Burdick informed Andes by letter that the board was considering closing the town’s District Two site, located at the Tremperskill Rod and Gun club meeting facility on the Tremperskill Road. The letter stated that election officials had been burdened by a lack of heat or a telephone in the building and the club’s unwillingness to address the problems. But its argument was driven home by more general concerns.
The commissioners stated that due to the budgetary requirements of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the county is hoping to cut costs and possibly eliminate unnecessary polling sites. Delhi, it was noted, serves 2,100 voters, and Walton 3,200 with a single voting district. The implication was that Andes, with only 900 registered voters, could make do with one less facility. However, the commissioners’ letter noted that because the town is divided by the Pepacton Reservoir, consideration would be given to establishing a new site on the other side of the water to better serve residents in the southern portion of the town.
At the town’s monthly meeting yesterday, the board expressed its opposition to the suggestion. The polling site has been in use continuously for decades, several members noted. Supervisor Marty Donnelly read from a letter he had sent in response, and pointed out that all other buildings in the district that could accommodate a polling site “are now under water.” He also noted that the club had elected a new official and would be amenable to addressing the concerns of election officials in the future. Donnelly also stated that since Andes usually exceeds voter turnout, the closing would in effect “discourage good citizenship.”
The board of elections is delaying a decision until after the recount of the special election has been completed.
Donnelly also shared communication with the director of USDA’s rural development concerning the funding for a new town garage. The town is seeking a $1.7 million loan from the USDA to finance a new facility on the Tremperskill Road. Since all plans for the building must be approved USDA, Delaware Engineering, which is facilitating the project, must put forth sufficient plans, drawings and certifications before construction bids can be solicited.
The list of unfinished details was comprised mostly of small details, handicap access requirements and parking specifications were most prominent. Donnelly stated that bidding will begin as soon as approval is received.
The board also granted bids on town services, including highway maintenance, mowing and fuel oil delivery. Awards were given to Shemung Supply, La Fever Excavating, Pierce Excavation, TriTown Services and Mirabito Fuel.
Highway Superintendent Mike McAdams requested help from the town in completing FEMA paperwork, in hopes of closing the book on claims the town made after the 2006 floods. Once more money arrives from the federal agency, he said, the highway department would concentrate on sealing the town roads.