Confronting graffiti problem Scotia mayor’s top priority in 2013
SCOTIA Removing graffiti from a railroad bridge and installing new water meters are among Scotia’s priorities for 2013.
Scotia Mayor Kris Kastberg told the Board of Trustees this month that he would like finally to resolve an ongoing issue with graffiti on the railroad bridge over Route 50.
Kastberg said the problem first started about seven years ago when a recent high school graduate died and other youths tagged the bridge with messages such as “love you” and the man’s name.
Since then, other names have been added to the bridge when people have died. The village passed a graffiti ordinance in 2010 that said that the property owner has to remove the graffiti or village officials will paint it over and bill the owner for the cost of the work plus an administrative fee of $250 or 15 percent of the cost, whichever is greater.
The owner must pay the lien within 10 days or face a lien on their property.
Kastberg said the owners of the Boston and Maine Railroad bridge, Pan Am Railways, have stalled the process, saying it didn’t think it owned the concrete abutments. However, Public Works Superintendent Andrew Kohout found the deeds that says the rail company is responsible for both the bridge span and the abutments.
“It’s going to be number-one priority in the spring to get that painted,” Kastberg said.
The anti-graffiti law has been very successful and most people have complied, according to Kastberg.
“These people have said they’re willing to comply but they’re not very quick on the draw,” he said.
Graffiti-resistant paint would be used, according to Kastberg. “A power washer will take it right back off again,” he said.
Kastberg said he would also like to install a “welcome to the village” sign set back a little bit from the bridge so even if someone were able to tag the structure with graffiti, it won’t be seen from the road.
A representative from Pan Am Railways didn’t return a message left for comment.
New water meters
Other priorities in 2013 include installing remote reading water meters. Kastberg said the village has signed a contract with consultant Johnson Controls and were going to meet with potential vendors to learn about the software.
Village officials want to install the meters to get a more accurate accounting of how much water is being used. Under the current system, residents fill out cards with the meter readings and village workers do a check of one-fifth of the properties every year to see if the reading was accurate. Scotia officials believe that the village could be collecting more revenue.
A ballpark estimate the cost of the project was about $2 million.
Once the village knows the type of meter it wants, it will send a request for proposals.
Kastberg also hoped that the village would complete the bike path. Village officials had wanted to pave an unpaved section of the path that starts in the village off of Schonowee Avenue near the former wastewater treatment plant and travels to Freemans Bridge Road, ending just across the street from the Water’s Edge Lighthouse Restaurant.
Village officials were ready to pave a portion of the bike path, when Camp Mohawk Valley Ski School owner Joseph Serth sued the village, saying he has the right to drive on the bike path. Arguments were heard in the case in September, but no decision has been issued.
Another ongoing issue is what to do with the aging municipal building. Kastberg said he was waiting until after the election to inquire about the availability of federal funding for a new firehouse.
In the meantime, he said he met with Police Chief Pete Frisoni about some small renovations of the current police space with some new furniture and reconfiguration.
Another item left on the to-do list is studying the possibility of a skateboard park, which was a request of village youth.