Blooming Grove Steps Into Community Solar

By Edie Johnson

A project that has been sitting in the wings for several years finally broke ground. McCarthy Solar has been busy for the past 2 weeks grading, filling for a gravel driveway, and setting up erosion control around a roadway into their 2 megawatt Community Solar project that goes from Round Hill Road back through a wooded area toward Rena Marie Circle. The project will cover 22 of the site’s 169 acres. There are plans to buffer any visual impact with trees and the contract includes decommissioning should it  ever be necessary.

Town of Blooming Grove’s last February meeting was short and to the point.  With additional snow a nearly daily occurrence, there was continued praise for the Highway Department. Steve Amante, who represents Ward 6, noted that Central Garage has contributed much with their good equipment maintenance, saving the department in repair costs.  Highway Superintendent, Wayne Kirkpatrick, noted that while they had done exceptionally well over the past two years with the environmentally friendly and effective molasses and distillate mixture, and had saved $83,000 least year, they had been running very low on salt after the last two storms the salt issue was resolved over last weekend with a delivery of $1,700 Tons. Molasses helps keep the slip prevention materials in place, especially on steep hills.

Tom DeVinko, who represents the Village of Washingtonville Ward 2, said that Village elections are set for March 15.  He added that the Village’s budget had passed, with a 0% increase. Chuck Quick, Ward 3, noted that the SuperBowl Soup & Crackers fundraiser had been very successful, and that they are continuing to sell bricks for the Inclusive Playground. Sonia Ayala, Ward 4, reported that the Highway Department has continued to assist for broken water mains at a great savings, when they can. Police have been asked to crack down on Village of South Blooming Grove buses, which have been backing out into Museum Village Road and elsewhere.  They have, however, been moved from permanent parking in front of the Village Hall and that it improves the appearance there greatly.

Controversy continues over some changes in the Town Planning Board.  During the Zoom meeting, several residents connected to comment about the changes, which included reduction of the board member numbers to 5 and replacing the Planning Board attorney.  Johanna Kiernan said that the members have always been held in high regard, that there had been advantages to having the Town Board and Planning Board operate independently, and that legal fees had been paid out of applicant fees. Bonnie Rum asked what the specific benefit the changes would be to residents. Supervisor, Rob Jeroloman, responded that after a Public Hearing at which the potential changes had been discussed, board members decided to reduce the number to 5 to be in line with most other towns, and to use the Town Attorney instead.  In these difficult economic times, he said, “When research had been done about applicant fees in the Village, we found legal precedent that said a Town cannot burden the applicant with 100% of attorney fees.” 

The Town has hired 2 new part-time police officers and that brings the police force back to 13.

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