2018-03-28 / Front Page

County Supervisors vote no on DPW plans

McFarland option defeated; part of "hybrid solution" approved
Eddie Donoghue

Historic votes provide partial solutions to County DPW issues

             One of the mostly hotly contested and controversial votes in recent memory took place today as the Delaware County Board of Supervisors narrowly voted down a resolution to move forward with the McFarland property in Delhi as the relocation site for its Department of Public Works (DPW) facility.

            The vote lived up to the drama surrounding the issue which has stretched out for the better part of a decade. The board had arrived at the final two choices for the relocation of the DPW facility: the McFarland site in Delhi, or a “hybrid solution” which featured their current Delhi location and what is known as the Bishop property in Hamden. The resolution they were faced with was in support of the McFarland location.

            Multiple supervisors spoke prior to the vote to express their views and sway their peers. Supervisor Marshfield of Hamden spoke for nearly 10 minutes, providing some of the positive aspects of the hybrid solution that he felt had not received enough attention. In his opinion, there would be fewer lawsuits if the hybrid solution was chosen. He also claimed it would allow the county to begin the transition earlier, though Commissioner of the DPW Wayne Reynolds has argued that point.

            Middletown Supervisor Pat Davis has been an outspoken supporter of the McFarland site and he defended the choice one last time. “You don’t build critical facilities in flood plains!  This is about the health, safety and welfare of all of the residents of this county, not just those in Delhi.”

            In the instance of a severe flood, it is uncertain as to whether the Bishop property in Hamden will be able to provide the full range of emergency services to all the areas required. Supervisor Gladstone of Andes spoke in opposition of McFarland.

            He cited the public opposition in Delhi, saying, “It’s our responsibility to listen to the host community.” Gladstone also noted the McFarland site is valued locally for its history in farming.  Gladstone, himself a life-long farmer, conceded that farms are going away. “But I’m damned if I’m going to help push it over the edge and take some of the primest farmland that we have in Delaware County and throw it under concrete. We’ve seen enough of that happen.”

            When the supervisors were finished speaking, the vote was taken with 11 of the 19 voting in favor of the McFarland site, and eight voting against it. Ultimately the eight won out due to the weight of their votes. The eight supervisors voting no controlled 2,511 talies  while the 11 supervisors voting yes tallied 2,288. If any of the eight supervisors who had voted against the resolution had voted the other way, the outcome would be have been completely reversed.

            While the supervisors of the three most populated towns (and therefore the most weighted votes) voted ‘No’ it was the supervisor of a smaller town who may have truly determined the outcome. Jeffrey Taggart is the supervisor of Franklin and was leaning towards supporting the McFarland property when he spoke with the News last week. “In my heart I think the McFarland is the best spot,” he said.  Even then though, he had doubts, saying, “We’ve been fed what they want us to hear. I think there are some other things that could be worked on. But overall, McFarland is probably the best.”

            Taggart ultimately voted against the McFarland property. He spoke to the News after the vote to explain his change, saying, “There’s too many questions. I would love to see the Wickham building [the current facility] stay. I think that would be a waste to move everything up to McFarland.”

            After its vote, the board took a 15-minute recess. When it reconvened, it was met with a new resolution in favor of the hybrid solution. The resolution will essentially allow the Public Works Committee to move forward, something they have no choice but to do given the state of the current facility. The resolution gives the county the permission to “Initiate the design of a patrol garage on Page Avenue in the Village of Delhi in accordance with the general outline provided by Wendel.”

Many supervisors were visibly upset and raised issues with the hybrid solution. Supervisor Triolo of Stamford mentioned that the Bishop property in Hamden is overpriced. Supervisor Hynes from Roxbury asked if the board might be “jumping the gun” with the hybrid resolution, given some unanswered questions. Supervisor Valente from Davenport addressed the resolution, saying, “It’s an incomplete band-aid approach and it’s what we’re going to do.” The three supervisors all supported the McFarland property.

 

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