Delhi Town Board rejects fire tower plan
Feb. 20—The Delhi Town Board voted during its Monday, Feb. 13 meeting against an agreement with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to put a historic fire tower back on Bramley Mountain.
The board entered a closed-door session that night and Supervisor Mark Tuthill told reporters he didn't expect any votes would be taken after they entered back into the open meeting.
However, Friends of Bramley Mountain Fire Tower President Ann Roberti said she received an email from Delhi Councilman Matthew Krzyston "late that night to tell me" that the board voted against the agreement. According to Roberti, the vote was 3-2, with Tuthill, Councilman William Cairns and Councilwoman Margaret Baldwin voting not to approve the agreement and Krzyston and Councilwoman Christina Viafore voting to approve it.
During the Feb. 13, meeting, Roberti, Laurie Rankin, director of the New York State Chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association and John Sandman, who serves on the boards of the Catskill Mountain Club and Friends of Bramley Mountain, spoke in favor of the town issuing a building permit to build the fire tower. They were joined by dozens of supporters wearing Bramley Mountain Fire Tower T-shirts and hats.
Roberti said "What we know is only what was published in the Mountain Eagle. We have had no official word from Mr. Tuthill why it was not approved."
Repeated voice mail messages to find out what happened after the closed-door session and why the town voted against the agreement were not returned by Tuthill on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and by press time on Monday.
According to an email issued by Roberti as president of the Friends of the Bramley Mountain Fire Tower, Tuthill told the Mountain Eagle, "There were so many unknowns about cost, control, and what the town would be responsible for."
Roberti disputes that as the organization is footing all of the costs associated with the fire tower.
Roberti said Delhi's Town Attorney David Merzig, "told our attorney that the draft offer letter was sufficient authority from the DEP allowing us to apply for the building permit for a project on their property, and the DEP has received the letter from the DEC saying the tower is in compliance with the acceptable uses for the current easement. As far as we know the town never talked to the city."
She said in the email, the memorandum of agreement between the town and her organization "would have spelled out all of the conditions and responsibilities of the Friends and cleared up any potential 'unknowns.'"
She said Tuthill stated that the town would support putting the tower somewhere else in town, not on New York City-owned property. However, the organization and the Clark family, which owns the fire tower, are opposed to it being put anywhere but where it originally stood. "It's a historic structure," Roberti said. "We want it to go where it stood before. I think most supporters of the fire tower feel the same way."
Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-441-7221.