Bennett owners ordered to proceed on demolition

Bennett College continues to fall apart as the owners have been ordered to tear it down. 

At the Village Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, February 12, a resolution of the Bennett impasse appeared to be taking form.  Audrey Friedrichsen Scott, the village’s attorney, reported that Supreme Court Judge Maria Rosa signed an injunction on January 16 ordering the owners to obtain the necessary permits and file an operational plan for demolition within 60 days.  Permits must be obtained from the village, the DEC, the Department of Labor and the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Preservation. The order does not say that the owner must demolish the buildings, but the Village of Millbrook has issued that directive, and the court can, at a later date, be asked to enforce that order.   If the owner, Bennett Acquistions, LLC does not comply with the order within the time specified, the court can find the owner in contempt, impose penalties or take other actions.



Mayor Laura Hurley said there are a few different ways the village can force the issue with the Bennett property owners, one of which was a court order requiring them to demolish the structures.  The issue was later discussed in executive session, closed to all but the Village Board of Trustees.


In other business, Mayor Hurley said the village owes the county $49,000 in a water/sewer refund.  She said there were issues with the meter and billing records.  The Village, through its water and sewer operator, representated by Scott Osborne, records the water meter flow in cubic feet and then converts that figure to gallons for billing Dutchess County for its use at the County Infirmary buildings.   The bill to the county should be around $2,000 a month.  However, Hurley found bills for up to $25,000 to the county.  Not catching the problem, the village collected overpayments from the county.  After the conversion mistakes were discovered, Hurley told the county to stop making payments to the village until the problem was figured out.  Hurley said the $49,000 will be paid in two installments.   A check for $19,870 will be paid to the county during this fiscal year and a check for $25,653 will be paid in the next fiscal year which begins in three months. 


Bill Bright’s NYSERDA/Flatline presentation with Mary Beth Bianconi took up most of the evening.  Bright has been working on an upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant with a chlorination/dechlorination project.  He has also been working to eliminate extraneous water from entering the treatment system (water overflow).   He told the village trustees that the tank at the wastewater plant is showing its age and needs to be replaced.  He offered to review the plant with  his agency to find greener and more efficient technologies to replace the aging tank.  He said  NYSERDA would pay for 50 percent of the engineering costs.  A figure was not given for what the replacement tank would cost.  The plant upgrades and other water related issues will be discussed at the joint village-town board meeting next Tuesday night.  


There have been two water leaks.  A valve at Bennett was dug up and has not been completely repaired.  A slow water leak was found on the property, but it is not causing any damage.  School was closed at Alden Place and Millbrook Middle School on Monday, February 11 while a water leak was repaired in front of the middle school.


The fire contract was approved at $405,964 for the fire company to provide services to the Town of Washington.  There was some discussion as to whether the village should be identified as the affordable housing center of the Town of Washington as provided in the town’s draft master plan.  The town’s plan wants the village to take on that responsibility.  Trustee Joseph Spagnola said the village board will not make a determination on how to define “affordable housing.” 


Village Board of Trustee meetings are held the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m.  The next meeting will be on Tuesday, Feb. 26, which will be a joint meeting with the Town of Washington.   Village budget meetings will begin on Monday, March 11 at 7 p.m, and will continue for the following two weeks on Monday nights.