Johnsburg Town Hall
Members of the Johnsburg Town Board approved their 2014 budget with a few amendments Thursday, Nov. 7, yet it was the state Department of Transportation’s (DOT) rejection of three speed-reduction requests that drew out emotional responses from local officials.
Town Supervisor Ron Vanselow, speaking by phone the morning after the meeting, said the DOT denied the town’s speed-reduction requests for the following “problematic” roads: Main Street in the downtown business district, Route 28 (aka The Bypass), and the Rogers Road.
The Rogers Road is a dirt road is located between the Barton Mines Road and the Harvey Road in the hamlet of North River. The road currently does not have a speed limit.
“They said they don’t really regulate those (kinds of roads), although they have the authority and we don’t,” Vanselow said. “They think that the people that live there know the roads, and the roads themselves limit the speeds.”
Town officials also want to reduce the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph on Route 28 — from the 45 mph speed limit sign near Cunningham’s to the Adirondack Tri-County Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. This area is known locally as The Bypass because it bypasses the Main Street business district.
Vanselow said DOT officials claimed it wasn’t busy enough to warrant a speed reduction. Yet he disagrees with the decision and the apparent methods of research.
“The only study they did was a radar study ... They determined not enough people were speeding at 55,” Vanselow said. “Well, that wasn’t the issue. We weren’t complaining about people speeding there, just that the speed limit itself was set too high for that stretch of road.”
This stretch includes a turnoff to the Gore Mountain Ski Center on the Peaceful Valley Road and the turnoff to the town landfill and Ski Bowl Park.
“There have been accidents up there constantly,” Vanselow said. “When you come from the south, and you’re approaching the turn onto Peaceful Valley Road to Gore Mountain, in the wintertime if there is any ice or snow on that road, people get to that intersection and slide right across into the snowbank. That happens routinely. People have been killed on that road.”
With a lot of local support for reducing the speed along The Bypass, Vanselow said he’s not giving up.
“We’re appealing that through Sen. Betty Little’s office and see what kind of political power we can bear on this and get the DOT to act in a reasonable manner,” Vanselow said. “It’s just amazing that the DOT is basically non-responsive.”
The speed limit reduction request for the Main Street business district in North Creek — from 30 mph to 25 mph — was made more than two years ago, and it was rejected by the DOT.
“What they do is push it off on the Sheriff’s Department or the State Police and say, ‘This is an enforcement issue, so we’ll contact them and let them know,’” Vanselow said. “How difficult is it to put up a few signs and lower the speed limit when a community wants to do this? It’s just ridiculous.”
In 2012, Warren County placed electronic speed radar signs on Main Street, one near the Route 28N intersection to the south and one near the train station and Copperfield Inn to the north. But those are not signs reducing the speed limit to 25 mph. The supervisor also noted that the speed limit on Main Street near the North Creek firehouse is 40 mph.
Vanselow said there is also a problem with people speeding on the Harrington Road in Wevertown, which is the location of a popular swimming hole on Mill Creek known as the Black Hole. The supervisor said he expects to file a speed-limit request to the DOT for that road as well.
“In the summertime, people go flying down that road,” Vanselow said. “There are kids that live along that road, and now the state DOT is telling us that they don’t like to post speed limits on roads like that. So I’m going to investigate what alternative we have.”
In other news, Town Board members made a few adjustments to the 2014 budget after the public hearing. One major change was switching health insurance companies from MVP to CDPHP.
“We saved a little money in the process and added a few lines in the budget where we could use a little more funding,” Vanselow said. “And then we passed the budget.”
The final numbers did not change, he said.
The overall town budget spending is $2,883,722. That includes the General, Highway, and Library funds, plus three special districts: North Creek Water; North Creek Fire; and Johnsburg Fire. The total amount to be raised by taxes is $1,383,142.
The townwide tax rate is $114.91 per thousand assessed, an increase of 3.06 percent, which falls under the allowable increase set by the state. Since the equalization rate is around 2 percent, that means people with property assessed at $50,000 would pay around $1,000.
Residents may see a copy of the 2014 budget at the Johnsburg Town Hall in North Creek or on the town’s website at www.johnsburgny.com.