CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — Actions by a county Board of Supervisors committee that postponed three road projects planned in town this summer has caused the town’s Republican Committee chairman to call for a change in the way the county board chairman is selected.
The postponement in funding a bridge project on Ashdown Road, the repaving of Main Street in Jonesville, and the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Vischer Ferry Road and Grooms Road was the breaking point for Clifton Park Republican Committee Chairman Jeff Jones.
The delays for the local road projects were three of six postponed by the County Board of Supervisors’ Public Works Committee at a May 12 meeting.
Those actions coupled with the noticeable absence of a single large municipality supervisor in a committee chairman’s slot bothered Jones. He became further concerned when questionable arrangements surrounding essential employee compensation at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic began making headlines.
And now, the shunning of the supervisor of the county’s largest municipality, Clifton Park, from the County Board’s own Reopening Advisory Committee has pushed him to call for structural changes to the county’s legislative body.
“It is becoming more clear with each passing day, the customary fashion in which the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors is selected annually is no longer viable,” Jones wrote in his statement. “Other structural changes are needed to ensure the viability of the Board of Supervisors as a functioning legislative body and the successful future of the Saratoga County Republican Committee.”
After learning at the May 12 meeting that a bridge project in the Town of Providence would go forward while the Ashdown Road bridge project would not, Clifton Park Supervisor Philip Barrett sought an answer as to why.
He was told the $1.5 million federally-funded Ashdown Road project had been postponed due to delays in approvals from the state and complications with CP Rail, the owner of the rail line.
Due to the delays there, Barrett said he was told there was no longer enough time to put the project out to bid and get constructions done this season.
When Barrett learned that the Main Street repaving and the traffic light had also been delayed while other projects had not, he once again asked for an explanation. He said he was told that the repaving was being done based on a priority of need and all projects like the traffic signal that are being funded wholly by the county were removed from a worklist, Barrett offered to front the funds to the county for the two projects; a total of $209,000.
According to minutes of the meeting, Barrett said the traffic signal is a safety issue that should not be put off and Main Street has potholes which are getting worse.
Committee Chairman Alan Grattidge said that the county attorney would review the proposal.
With regard to the project postponements, a county spokesman stated later, “As a result of the pandemic and financial constraints on the county’s budget, some projects have been postponed for the time being”.
When all the recent actions of the board and that of the committee are taken together Jones, in his statement, said he sees a growing divide among county supervisors that may not be accidental.
“These actions have further solidified the sentiment by many that favoritism at best, retribution at its worst, is taking place,” he wrote. “The divide on the Board of Supervisors which is largely along the lines of small vs. large municipalities will decidedly hurt the County and our Party if it is not corrected.”
Jones said he looks forward to having an engaging discussion of the issues with his fellow committee chairs in the county and hopes that before further divisions arise, the county’s governmental leaders will unite and new ideas and energy will “replace the petty political gamesmanship that does not benefit the people of Saratoga County”.