Broken Forestville equipment creating big bill

OBSERVER Photo by Rebecca Cuthbert The streets barn in Forestville, which belonged to and was run by the former village, is pictured here after an extensive clean-up effort by its new custodian, the Hanover Highway Department. In the foreground is the GMC 1-ton truck, which was in relatively good condition when the town took over.

HANOVER — Just six weeks into its acquisition of the former village of Forestville, the town of Hanover has already spent a total of $22,271 on replacing, repairing and reworking equipment and tools at the hamlet’s streets barn.

Hanover Highway Superintendent Steve D’Angelo gave his activity report at a recent town board meeting, bringing councilmembers up to speed on the work his crews have done in Forestville, and the price tag that has come with it.

D’Angelo read from several pages of notes, listing for the board each piece of equipment that needed attention, then explaining that need and the price of repairs, replacement, etc.

First up was a 2008 plow truck.

“It needed extensive work,” D’Angelo said, adding that road salt had ruined portions of the vehicle, and that it hadn’t “seen a grease gun in several years.”

It also needed new dash lights, new hydraulic hoses, a new turbo charger, muffler work, new grease fittings, 35 gallons of hydraulic oil and more. The total for that vehicle alone was over $11,000, which was at least less expensive than buying a completely new plow truck.

Part of that total was for “a bill at NAPA (Auto Parts) for a new battery that Forestville had never paid.”

The sidewalk plow needed a new spreader, which cost $2,200. It also needed two new tires and a new battery. Its power steering hoses were leaking. The alternator was bad, and it was in sore need of an oil change.

A GMC 1-ton truck hadn’t been inspected since 2015, its title was missing, its suspension wasn’t stiff enough to carry a plow and it needed a lift kit.

“Otherwise, that one was good,” D’Angelo said of the truck.

A New Holland backhoe was “a nightmare,” he said.

“Two tires were completely bad. The wear bars were bad. Basically, you’ve got banana peels to run on. We spent $1,900 on new tires. The oil and hydraulic filters hadn’t been changed. At the back of the machine, two hydraulic lines were broken. Someone tried to weld them at one point, and it didn’t work. There was hydraulic oil all over the ground around it,” D’Angelo said.

Then there was the streets barn itself.

“We had to replace (the floor grates),” he explained. “The center drains in the building were filled to the top … (and) we couldn’t get the grates up to clean the (muck) out. When we got (the grates) out, they came out in pieces. They were made of cast iron, and just (ruined). We had to replace them; that was $1,300.”

Reportedly, it took three men three days to completely clean the shop. They had to build shelves, as many of the existing tools, pieces of equipment, supplies, and odds and ends had previously just been piled on the floor.

“We had to get a dumpster for all the garbage,” D’Angelo added. “That was $300.”

D’Angelo’s crew also did some painting, replaced $1,200 of missing tools, and changed the locks on the doors to keep the space safe and secured.

As it was mentioned at the meeting, many of these expenses would not have been incurred had the equipment been taken care of properly — routine oil changes, repairs and cleanings would have been a better idea, and in the very least, would have spread out the costs. Now, with all of these bills being taken out of D’Angelo’s highway budget, all hopes to make up for the loss rest on the $25,000 New York State Department of State’s Local Government Citizens’ Reorganization Empowerment Grant, or CREG, which helps mitigate the sting of consolidation-related expenses.

Kevin O’Connell, deputy mayor of Hanover, said, “(These) equipment costs — repairing, replacing, maintaining — those should logically be reimbursed … with the consolidation grant.”

Councilman Louis Pelletter agreed, saying “($22,271) is way too much money to take out of (D’Angelo’s highway) budget without making it up.”

D’Angelo credited his crew with the work that’s been done, saying that his highway employees take pride in what they do, whether it’s patching a road, fixing a truck or cleaning a shop.

He also pointed out the silver lining to the gray cloud that is all of these bills: At least it was at the beginning of the year.

“If all this had to be done at the end of the year, there might not be money to do it,” he said. “Now, we have the money, and it needed to get done. We need to have that equipment up there to take care of (Forestville). The good news is that now, I think we’re all set,” he said.

It also helped that the snow held off while the equipment was being repaired.

The board unanimously approved a resolution to hire Paul Bishop, of CGR, for up to $1,000, to help the town obtain the $25,000 CREG, and any other grants for which the town may be eligible. Bishop, an associate principal, put together the Forestville Dissolution Study for the former village, so he is quite familiar with the situation. He told the OBSERVER that it is very likely that the town will be successful with the CREG, and that he will research other funding possibilities, as well.

The Hanover Town Board will meet again Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at town hall, followed by a regular meeting.