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Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 19:38

Debate over Port board’s proposal to buy land next to hall to expand facility dominates budget discussion

     A debate about the future of the Town of Port Washington’s garbage and recycling center was the central subject of the 2018 budget hearing.
    The Town Board is considering purchasing two lots adjacent to Town Hall to expand its recycling and garbage operations, but Gordon Naujock, 3642 Norport Dr., suggested that other options be explored.
    “How serious are you in pursuing it?” he asked the board, noting that purchasing the properties could cost the township $500 annually in taxes it would otherwise collect.
    “You guys are charged with making the best decisions for the town, and maybe that’s not the best one.”
    Board members said the current situation works but is not ideal, and as the town grows things will only get more difficult.
    Buying the properties will make it possible to handle the operations into the future, they said.
    But Naujock said the town should consider moving the operations from the west side of the Town Hall to the east, saying there is plenty of property adjacent to the parking lot to collect the garbage and recycling.
    The parking lot reaches almost to the end of the town’s property, board members said. Even if the town owned the land, they said, a stormwater ditch next to the lot would make expanding the operation difficult if not impossible.
    But Naujock said the $50,000 the town allocated in the 2018 budget for the properties to the east — funds town officials said would be the initial payment for the lots — could be used to buy adjoining land on the west side of the hall, if needed, and make any necessary modifications.
    The properties the town is considering buying, he added, are “probably the two best lots in Knellsville.”
    Town Chairman Jim Melichar said that only the property next to the Town Hall would likely be used for the garbage and recycling operations.
    The town would likely lease the other property at the intersection of Highland and Highway H, he said.
    Owning those lots would give the town greater control when and if future development is proposed there, Melichar added.
    “We don’t know what’s going to happen until we get sewer and water here,” Melichar said.
    Paul Gantner, 2550 Hillcrest Rd., said the rent the town would realize from the corner property would offset any loss of taxes, and added that the town needs to do something to improve its garbage and recycling operations.
    “This is an investment for the town,” Gantner added, particularly considering the potential impact on future development.
    Terry Anewenter, 3693 Hwy. KK, agreed that the town should look at other options, saying, “I think that’s an interesting idea.”
    After learning that the road in front of the Town Hall is a dead-end that merges with a private driveway, Anewenter suggested that the town consider moving the dumpsters to the roadway instead of keeping them in the Town Hall parking lot.
    If the traffic flow doesn’t work, he said, the town could create a driveway from the current east-side parking lot to Highland Drive to accommodate it.
    Town Supr. Mike Didier noted there’s a long way to go before the town purchases the properties.
    The town has yet to receive an appraisal of the lots, which are assessed at $82,400 and $132,000, he said.
    If negotiations are successful, the Town Board would present the plan at the annual meeting of the electors in April, Melichar said.
    “We cannot buy it without approval from the electorate,” he said. “The negotiations may take until then.”
    The eight residents at the public hearing approved the $462,233 levy for 2018, which reflects an increase from this year’s levy of $457,517.
    The board then approved the budget of $572,415, an increase of .85% from this year’s budget of $567,564.
    The town tax rate is expected to be $2.23 per $1,000 assessed valuation.Daily Press