MAMAKATING — Since the town of Mamakating purchased the Dutch Reformed Church, they have been working to raise money to repair the building to its former glory. The current focus is on …
MAMAKATING — Since the town of Mamakating purchased the Dutch Reformed Church, they have been working to raise money to repair the building to its former glory. The current focus is on repairing the roof since it has been patched before, but it is still leaking. The town has since chosen a contractor and hired an architect, but the contractor did not have the necessary Scaffold Insurance required by law in New York State, and as of the meeting on September 7, the contractor could not obtain it. As a result, the board voted to put out another solicitation of bids for the church’s roof replacement.
Town Supervisor Janet Lybolt stated that New York State is the only state in the country that requires this insurance, and the contractor could not find a policy for under $40,000, so it would not be feasible for him to complete the job at the promised bid. She also stated that the next round of bids needs to include the Scaffold Insurance.
During public comment, Mike Robbins asked the board if there was anyway to patch the roof since it is leaking, and this new bid process could take months. Robbins also stated that the church is a town building, and the board would not let the State Police building (for example) leak for so long. Lybolt responded that the roof was already patched, and it is leaking again. She also stated that the Bloomingburg Restoration Foundation can get someone to patch the roof in the meantime or put a tarp on the roof to cover it if they wish to.
Chris Leser asked if the town could rent a lift to fix the leaks. Lybolt responded that it costs thousands of dollars to rent one, and only one maintenance member is qualified to use it. In addition, when they repaired the roof last time, they took advantage of an already rented lift to complete the job, she said. She also told Leser that her fear was they will patch another part of the roof, and it will leak again weeks later, and therefore, her goal was to replace to entire roof to fix the problem altogether.
The Bloomingburg Restoration Foundation’s (BRF) response
Paul Brower, the president of the BRF, expressed his anger with Lybolt during his comment. He told her that there are three pools of water in the church, and the artifacts are starting to mold. “I hold you [Lybolt] personally responsible,” he exclaimed. He stated that the board had an opportunity to work with one of the best contractors around that was a friend of the BRF and that contractor has since worked on many other big projects. Brower also accused Lybolt of not negotiating in good faith, lying, and joining the BRF only to get elected. He also said that if Lybolt did not like the push back she is receiving then she should “resign.”
Lybolt responded that the contractor in question was $160,000 higher than the lowest bid and did not have Scaffold Insurance. Brower stated that he did in fact have the insurance. Lybolt said it was not provided to the town. In addition, Lybolt stated that the BRF wanted exclusive use of the building for 99 years, and that cannot be done. “I take great offense [to these accusations],” Lybolt replied. Lybolt continued by saying that she joined the BRF when former president Mark Fowler asked her to help save the church from being sold by the previous town board. Lybolt said that she helped save the church, and if they didn’t save it, they would not even be having this conversation because former town supervisor Bill Herrmann would have sold it. Brower replied that Herrmann would not have sold it. Lybolt asked the BRF to stop saying these things because they are lies.
Deputy Supervisor Eileen Rogers stated that she tried to get a meeting together with the BRF for a discussion, and there was a misunderstanding with the town’s attorney. Benjamin Gailey, the attorney for Mamakating, admitted that he apologized for the misunderstanding. Rogers also stated that she texted Jensen to get another meeting going but claimed that Jensen told her to hold off since the roof was leaking.
Adrienne Jensen, the secretary for the BRF, came to the podium and rebutted Rogers’ claims. She said that the BRF still wanted a meeting and that it was important to them. In addition, she said that the BRF’s issue is with “Janet personally.” Jensen clarified that she meant that the BRF did not like the way Lybolt has been handling the building or its repairs. Jensen said she was told initially that the repairs would happen quickly, but five months later, a new bid is going out. She asked what the difference was between this bid and the last. She also stated that she would “appreciate transparency” from Lybolt.
Lybolt replied that she has been transparent, and she cannot control the contractor or the weather. She brought up the Silver Feather Award that she worked hard to get to specifically repair this building, but the rest of the money is coming from a New York State grant. She reiterated that she does not have control over the state’s speed in sending the money over.
Jensen also brought up the contractor issued and argued that the board did not have to accept the lowest bid. Gailey stated that by law, municipalities are required to take the lowest bid. Jensen pointed out that the board needs to take the “lowest responsible bid.” The current contractor was given a lot of time to get the proper insurance, but the BRF’s choice was not given any chances, Jensen claimed. Lybolt responded that the contractor chosen was vetted and responsible.
Both Lybolt and the BRF then stopped arguing to allow for the Highway Superintendent’s report to begin.