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Chestnut Lane in Boston raises concerns

BOSTON — Chestnut Lane in the town of Boston has been surrounded in controversy since the town board looked to install a turnaround at the end of the street more than a year ago. Even after the board moved to discontinue the project, at least one resident from the street has continued to find fault in the work done on that street. Bryant Burns, a Chestnut Lane resident, appeared before the board again, during the June 18 meeting.

Burns’s intention, in his words, was “to inform the residents of Boston of what has transpired at the end of Chestnut Lane, in the order that it occurred.”

He began in early 2013, when Highway Superintendent Robert Telaak removed trees from the end of the street. Burns said that, at a board meeting held on May 5, 2013, he asked the board about the work, to which Councilman Jay Boardway responded that only a survey had been done. Earlier this year, Burns had asked “if there had been an approval for the work and Supervisor [Martin Ballowe], speaking for all the board members, said that there was approval,” which Burns called “some inconsistency.” Burns added, “The once-green space at the end of Chestnut Lane is now destroyed. It seems to have invited other developers, now that the trees are gone. I have spoken to almost every resident on the end of the Chestnut Lane and their overwhelming response is we want the trees replanted on that property the way it was before Mr. Telaak removed the trees. I submitted a signed request for a more permanent structure than the bollards, and 14 of the 15 residents signed that request.” By “a more permanent structure,” Burns said he was referring to “a guardrail, something that someone wouldn’t just cut off and start doing construction work.”

To that statement, Ballowe asked, “Who cuts off a bollard 4 feet into the ground and 4 feet high?” Burns alleged that the bollards are spaced far enough apart that “you can drive through the bollards with a car and not even touch either side of it.” However, Telaak said that there have been no such reports.

Ballowe asked Burns if he had seen or heard of any attempts to drive through the bollards, but Burns disregarded the question and continued to read his prepared statement, attempting to speak over the supervisor, who was informing Burns that his time limit for his request from the floor had expired.

Telaak explained, “[The trees] were on my property because the turnaround was going to be put on my property. I was going to donate the property to the town, free of charge.”

“I try to answer everybody’s questions,” said Ballowe. “I don’t like to be accused of things. I try to answer everybody’s questions [regarding] what we’re doing and what the town’s doing. The town found a need for a turnaround, not only for our plows but for buses, for fire departments [and] for ambulances. We try to be fair. When we were asked to stop doing that, we took corrective action that we felt the residents wanted us to do. At the taxpayers’ expense, we put up $2,000 in bollards up there and stop signs. We did the appropriate thing, painted them safety yellow and put them up. We never had a problem. There have been no reported accidents.”

To Burns, Ballowe said, “I appreciate your coming in, but I don’t appreciate being attacked. If you want to ask me a question, I will give you an answer and I’m OK with that. We do what’s right for all the citizens in the town. We don’t give special preference to anybody. [Telaak] is our highway superintendent. He was going to give us property. We stopped it at your request and at the people’s request. The trees he cut down? If he wants to replace them, God bless him. Replace them. We put up the bollards. This board did the proper thing.”

In other board news:

– Another issue in the same area, this one on Hillcrest Drive, was addressed by Genzel, regarding an issue about construction that was brought up at the last board meeting. The board had received correspondence from both Russell Goldberg, the resident and Code Enforcement Officer William Fergusson regarding the matter. “We had some discussions concerning [Russell] Goldberg. After we had some time to look at the situation since last meeting, I believe code enforcement was up there, the [Department of Environmental Conservation] was up there, [Ballowe] was up there, I was up there and [Telaak] was up there. What Mr. Goldberg’s attempting to do is run some utility lines off of the end of the road, down through a paper street, which his property adjoins down by the bottom of the creek. There were some bollards; we had installed new bollards, approximately $1,000 of equipment on that property, at the request of Mr. Burns in the past, and we installed those with a stop sign. Those were completely cut off with a blow torch by Mr. Goldberg’s contractor. We’re definitely going to need reimbursement for that equipment that was cut off. Repairing them just isn’t going to work. The integrity of the steel is gone. He is attempting to get a permit from the DEC to put a culvert in.

“So that’s an explanation of what I believe is going on up there, at this time,” Genzel concluded. “I don’t believe any permits have been granted for anything from the town of Boston. I don’t even believe that we have to issue any permits.”

– Town Historian Keith Kaszubik announced his retirement via correspondence to the town board.

“Unfortunately, my business responsibilities and obligations helping the poor and destitute at local churches prevent me from having the time to continue with my purely volunteer work for our town,” said Kaszubik. “Also, the smell of old things in the Boston Historical Society’s museum are disagreeable to my health.”

He added, “I was able to accomplish an enviable amount of work with the help of those desirous of improving our community. It has been a pleasure and a privilege serving my hometown, as your historian and good neighbor.”

Boardway seconded the motion “with deep regret.” He said, “Anyone who has known Keith or had dealings with Keith for the last five years when he was appointed as town historian, you will know that he is one of the most sincere individuals that I believe has been appointed by the supervisor in these five years. His work product is tremendous. It’s flawless. He has put together volumes of town history in the last five years that essentially puts everything from the last 105 years to shame. He’s done a fantastic job.”

Genzel added, “I just can’t say enough about how much effort Keith put into that position – way far above anything that had ever been done in the past administration. He did an excellent job. You can look through the scrapbooks – it’s just amazing to look back, to our first year and how much we’ve accomplished over the years, how the town is in such a better position financially and aesthetically. So we’re really going to miss him. I just don’t know how we’re going to replace him.”

– Patchin Fire Company received a grant of more than $87,000 from Senator Chuck Schumer’s office. “Fire Chief Joe Gallagher was instrumental in getting this grant pushed through,” said Genzel. “ It’s nice to see some money come into the town of Boston for our first responders there.”

– Appointments for the summer recreation program were carried. The program has been maxed out at 160 children, according to Ballowe, with a number the supervisor “felt comfortable.” The program will begin on July 7 and continue through Aug. 15, followed by a wrap-up session on Aug. 21.

The next Boston town board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on July 16 at the Boston Town Hall, located at 8500 Boston State Road in Boston.

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