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October 22, 2016
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Highland issues consumer alert

After one or more seniors reported a paving contractor who was said to have offered a bargain price on asphalt left over from another job, and then charged thousands of dollars more than anticipated, the Highland Town Board issued a consumer alert last week.

Supervisor Andrew Boyar said he had received a weekend telephone call from a resident reporting an incident with a truck driver operating as Orange County Paving. “The bill was double the expected cost. I’ve heard of another person in Highland charged $21,000, another charged $19,000, another $13,000.”

The alert says that anyone who has paid for work under these circumstances has recourse. “These tactics should be reported to the New York State Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau, 1 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 401, Poughkeepsie NY 12601.”

Consumers can get a formal complaint form online or they can contact Senior Consumer Frauds Representative Stephanie Brideau at 845/485-3951.

Town Clerk Doreen Hanson also has the complaint forms, and said that she would help anyone who needs assistance in filing the complaint. Hanson can be reached at 845/557-6085

Boyar also suggested that anyone who has been excessively billed and not yet paid should not pay that bill. “Then it’s up to the contractor, if he wants to pursue legal action.”

The town’s notice further advises:

“If someone offers you a paving job that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

The Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office suggests the following actions before you allow anyone to work on your property:

€ Get a written estimate. By law all home improvement jobs in excess of $500 must have a written estimate prior to the work being started.

€ Comparison shop; get two or more quotes.

€ Know who you are dealing with. Be aware that there are unscrupulous fly-by-nights in the area.

€ Do not allow yourself to be a victim. If you have been victimized, file a complaint and let others know about your experience.

In other business, the board held a second session of a public hearing on an unsafe building at Washington Lake and scheduled a continuation of the hearing to precede its meeting in September.

They scheduled a 9/11 remembrance program at 7 p.m. at Heroes’ Park on September 10, with the regular board meeting rescheduled to 6 p.m.

They approved a resolution urging support for the state constitutional referendum on casino gambling.

Riverfront revitalization questioned

On August 13, the town board also heard a presentation from Heather Jacksy of the Sullivan County Planning Department detailing a program for coordinated, state-provided signage along the Route 97 Scenic Byway to better direct visitors to local recreational amenities and services, while keeping them off private property.

Boyar said he was uncertain of the town’s role as the town has no signs along the state highway and “the state has always been very reluctant to take the town’s advice.”

Jacksy also detailed her year-and-a-half effort on a waterfront revitalization plan for the river. She said funding is being sought and the plan is almost ready. She said the idea is to create a look more commensurate with a national park area.

Grant funding of $125,000 would create six new river access areas, one of which would be one of three candidate sites in the Barryville area: at the interstate bridge, on town-owned property on River Road, or at a state-owned fishing site a half-mile north of the hamlet. “What gets done depends somewhat on volunteered and donated help,” she said.

Boyar said the town has made no decision about a new access, and was concerned that further access development would “encourage abuse,” including additional garbage issues. He said the town probably would not participate unless there were assurances made about dealing with new garbage and misuse. “I see negatives without positives,” he said.

Resident Jim Hanson said the town has not had bad luck with revitalization grants, citing the business named “Stickett Inn,” at the corner of Mail Road and County Road 21.

The name, seen as provocative by many, has drawn wide criticism. “The name is very offensive to a lot of people in town,” said Peter Carmeci.

Jacksy noted that other businesses in town, Clancy’s and the Carriage House, also received money under the same program.

Boyar said the name given was not the name originally proposed. “We have free speech. If you like one aspect of it, you’re stuck with all of it,” he said.