May 14, 2008: Fleischmanns issue is not reality

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To The Editor:

At a recent village board meeting on April 21 I observed many
individuals in attendance expressing their concern with regards to the
proposed water storage tank on Paradise Camp Road. There was also
frustration regarding reimbursement monies promised by the MARK Group
for properties connecting to the recently created sewer district if
done before the end of December 12, 2007.

A letter dated October 17, 2007 from the MARK Group in paragraph two
implies that properties connected by December 15, 2007 are eligible for
reimbursement of “some, and perhaps all, of the costs of hooking up.”
Of course, to the layperson this offer is enticing. However, as is so
often the case, it is not reality. It was stated at the meeting that
approximately 40 properties have not connected. If these 40 properties
had also connected the distribution of remaining monies for
reimbursement would be even further diluted. Obviously, it is
impossible that anyone would receive full reimbursement for connecting
(income eligible households notwithstanding).

Through meaningful discussion with John Brust of Delaware
Engineering I was trying to gain an understanding of how the MARK Group
could make such an offer that was now not a reality. Village Trustee
Fred Woller rudely interjected himself, claimed no knowledge and
instructed me “why don’t you go ask the MARK Group.” Needless to say as
a trustee Mr. Woller should be asking himself how the MARK Group is
making offers without the Village of Fleischmanns having knowledge.

We will not connect to the sewer district because we do not need
another $100 (sewer rent) added to our yearly expenses. We have no
problem with our existing system and with proper maintenance/repair, we
won’t. In addition, the pipe lateral installed by Delaware Engineering
is not located in an accessible location and it further amazes me that
homeowners were not contacted to verify/locate the house sewer outlets
to avoid additional expenses to everyone. Maybe a greater reimbursement
percentage to homeowners could have been realized if this was done! We
were probably never contacted because of the ongoing litigation
regarding the village’s adverse possession/prescriptive
easement/eminent domain or-whatever-they’ll-try-next claim on our
property to install the sewer. In our case, Delaware Engineering and
the village basically ignored our pleadings to negotiate in good faith
and simply installed the pipe and laterals wherever they wanted.

In addition to the sewer burden, another $1 million+ of debt service
for a water tank may be put on the taxpayer’s backs. Is the $1 million
interest-free loan touted by Delaware Engineering just another example
of a sub-prime mortgage that is too good to be true because it is? I
encourage property owners to pay close attention to what the village
board is doing with our tax money and water system. I for one suggest
any decisions that require bonding or debt service be put to
referendum. When trustee Harriet Grossman stated “we care about this
village” in an attempt to influence sympathy with the plight of the
board, I was not moved. It is not that I don’t believe her, I do.
However, she needs to understand that everyone that pays taxes and
takes the time to attend village meetings clearly “cares about this
village,” but justifiably, living expenses are a greater concern to the
average person. Ultimately, the taxpayers are footing the bill for all
these “improvements” on some level and realistically are of limited
income.

I also noticed the attitude of the village board appears to be less
than full disclosure. During the meeting citizens in attendance were
unable to hear the board’s discussion (including myself) with one
citizen visibly agitated.

Everyone knows it is not easy being a public servant, and some of
the decisions the board faces are complicated. There is truth to the
saying, “you can’t make all the people happy all the time,” but I don’t
believe this village board has ever fully tried to act in a spirit of
cooperation and mutual understanding, at least not with regards to
property rights, and certainly not as far as we’re concerned.

Achilles Stefanis, Fleischmanns