Gardiner looks for solar energy initiatives

By Gail B. Hoffer-Loibl
Posted 6/19/24

The Gardiner Town Board discussed how to best invest grant money in solar energy initiatives. During the June 11 meeting, Paul Keisler, a member of the town’s Climate Smart Taskforce, shared …

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Gardiner looks for solar energy initiatives


The Gardiner Town Board discussed how to best invest grant money in solar energy initiatives. During the June 11 meeting, Paul Keisler, a member of the town’s Climate Smart Taskforce, shared that his committee had received two bids in response to a request for proposal for implementing a solar project at the Gardiner Town Hall.

Keisler explained that one bid proposed using a combination of roof solar panels and solar canopies over a portion of the parking lot, while the other proposed using solar canopies over the whole parking area.

The board discussed the advantages and disadvantages of each option, weighing out their respective costs, impact on public safety and effect on the building. Among the concerns were the potential need to replace the roof after solar panels are installed, creating additional costs, and how to best situate the solar canopies to ensure vehicle safety. Supervisor Marybeth Majestic said that she would need to consult the town engineer regarding potential issues related to the solar canopies and that the board would need to research the cost of roof replacement and evaluate other expenses in order to determine the best course of action.

During a discussion ahead of the appointment of Don Lipton to the Environmental Conservation Commission, the board debated the process for choosing candidates. Majestic shared her concern that younger candidates aren’t participating in town committees and that the focus should be on diverse viewpoints.

Further debate ensued over the process of selecting committee appointments when Town Board Member, Michael Hartner requested the board consider allowing chairpersons to participate in the interview process. Hartner explained that chairs were invited to share in the process in the past and proposed that they be allowed to attend the interview and ask questions. He said that the chairs would be able to share their insights with the town board, but not share whom they prefer for the role.

“I know of no compelling reason to continue barring chairs from the process,” said Hartner. “This provides opportunities for dialogue between the chairs and the town board. Not allowing this suggests that the board knows more about the committees than the chairs do.”

Hartner’s fellow board members disagreed with him over the benefits of allowing chairpersons to participate in the interview process and expressed concern that doing so could compromise the integrity of the appointments. The consensus was that having chairs present could lead to unintended consequences, such as unconscious body language influencing the board’s decision.

As a form of compromise, Board Member Carol Richman suggested reaching out to the chairpersons ahead of the appointment process to get their insights on what they are looking for in new committee members. The board passed a motion stating that the board would send a memo to committee chairpersons whenever a vacancy occurs in their respective committees.

At the meeting, the board reviewed a report from the Building Inspector, Trevor Hults, which called on them to address short-term rental issues. In the report, the inspector reiterated the building department’s recommendation that the town adopt the short-term regulations used by the city of Ithica. The report noted that the department has little authority to regulate short-term rentals due to a lack of regulation and that having laws in place would enable them to better respond to the concerns of the community.

The building department also requested the town board adopt regulations related to fencing to ensure that clear guidelines can be enforced. The board debated the need for these regulations, and agreed that property owners may not know if they’re building on their own land. The building department recommended the town adopt the fencing requirements currently employed by the village of New Paltz. In addition the building department asked the board to adopt regulation related to the usage and placement of dumpsters and trash bins.

The board discussed the building department’s request to set the hours between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday as designated times for questions and walk-ins. Furthermore, the department requested that all appointments with a building inspector be made through the town clerk. The board concurred that setting these policies will help the department function better.

The board approved a motion to hire a special prosecutor, at the request of the Town Justice, for the purpose of handling traffic issues. The board questioned why this position didn’t exist in the past, to which the Town Justice responded that she was new to her role and that her research found that other towns do employ the services of a special prosecutor for handling traffic violations.

The board approved two contracts in the amount of $29,698 and $3,493, respectively, for work related to the town’s sewer rehabilitation project.