John Biruk discussed a trio of resolutions dealing with “No Parking” signs on three different roads with Board and community members alike when the Middletown Town Board held its monthly workshop last Wednesday, April 3.
The first resolution addressed Hill Street where one resident in particular refuses to comply with the local law that states no one can park on town roads in the winter. Biruk noted the street is only between 14 and 16 feet wide, saying, “So, when they park on the street it takes up over half of it.”
When it snows, the plows cannot properly do their job and the snow winds up in the middle of the road. The snow can cause a blockage that can be an issue of safety and liability if emergency vehicles do not have access to the roadways. On Church Street, the problem is simpler, with a tight parking lot for an apartment complex often overflowing into the street.
The situation in Halcottsville, however is a bit more unique. Biruk said the problem involves one or more Airbnbs. The owners do not properly maintain the driveways, he said, and the guests do not know better than to park in the street. The 20-foot wide street, Biruk said, “Wasn’t designed, when it was built, for parking.”
The resolution would see “No Parking” signs placed on the east side of Halcottsville Road and “No Overnight Parking” signs on the west side. Biruk urged Halcottsville residents to use their driveways, which each homeowner has. He pointed out the safety risks involved with parking on the narrow street which include the limited visibility drivers have of children playing.
“It’s harassment to the neighbors as far as I’m concerned. And unsafe as far as fire companies, fire trucks and ambulances,” Biruk said.
Two Halcottsville residents were in attendance and both were given the opportunity to share their side of the issue. George Suess brought up the fact that there is no public parking in the hamlet. He raised the question of how any resident could have family and friends over without parking in the street. His real concern, however, is the speed which the cars drive on Halcottsville Road. He claimed many residents park on the street in an effort to slow drivers down. He asked how to go about having the 30-mph speed limit reduced to 25, or 20-mph. “But 30-mph down that street is just too damn fast,” he said.
McPherson, who said he was representing about eight other homeowners, asked if there were other solutions than the “No Parking” signs that were proposed. “We’re all concerned because we never heard about the signs,” he said, asking for the Board to hold off on a vote. McPherson offered other solutions including making a contact list for Biruk should he have problems with residents in the future. “We need tourism. People that are renting their houses with Airbnb, we need it to pay our bills,” McPherson said. Finally, he proposed a community forum where concerned residents could meet with Biruk to work out a compromise.
Where’s the help?
“Yes we want tourism, but we also want to keep our people safe,” said deputy supervisor Brian Sweeney. Supervisor Pat Davis did not attend the meeting as he was receiving his annual State training. Biruk further explained the difficulties, as he feels he has no path of recourse for those who violate the local law. He has not found a tow service that will come out in the early morning hours as he needs; the County Sheriff has tried to help, but also couldn’t get to Middletown in a timely fashion. Another option would be to borrow an already busy Flesichmanns constable who has been brought on for similar reasons. Lastly, Biruk said State Police have been a dead end, refusing to write parking tickets. Board member Ken Taylor was outraged at hearing the State Police would not help. “You’re telling me that State Police won’t help you out,” Taylor said, “I have a major issue with that.” He stressed that the Board should reach out to the State Police and see if someone could come to a meeting and explain why they won’t help.
The discussion was resolved without the Board voting on any of the three resolutions. Furthermore, Biruk agreed to attend the following week’s meeting on April 10 with a map to clearly display where each of the signs would be on Halcottsville Road.
On the subject of Halcottsville, earlier in the meeting the discussion had centered around the hamlet’s poor quality of water. Water Superintendent Bob Payne had reported he set up a sequestering system in the hamlet, but noted it would take some time before he got results due to the low usage.
McPherson confirmed the he has “horrible water” and said he had heard the cause of the water quality was due to the fire hydrants not being drained. Suess said he talked with Water Superintendent Bob Payne, who does flush the hydrants periodically, but was considering doing so more often.
“Bottom line is, that water has tested safe every sample we’ve taken with the health department. I know people aren’t happy with the water, but bottom line is we meet the requirements,” said Taylor. “Halcottsville’s been known for bad water. It’s what it is. It stinks but we have high hopes for what we’re doing.”
The Board also postponed a public hearing for a proposed New Kingston Sewer District. The public hearing will now be held on Wednesday, May 8 at 6 p.m. A public hearing about the sewer use law in New Kingston is still scheduled for Wednesday, April 10 at 6 p.m. (see related story.)