By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
Recorder News Staff
While the concept of absorbing the village of Fonda into the town of Mohawk is going to be addressed in the town's revised comprehensive plan, there are no steps being taken to move in that direction at this time, officials said Tuesday.
Supervisor Ed Bishop said town officials are just brainstorming ideas.
"I don't think it is something we should do right now but I don't think we should do a comprehensive plan without [addressing] it," Bishop said. "This plan is not going to be done for another 10 years so it is something we should address."
He said the topic was brought up by the planning board because comments had been made by village officials previously when discussions were taking place for the consolidation of the village fire department. Bishop said no further talks have taken place since.
"We are not in discussions with the village," Bishop said. "This is a brainstorming thing."
Mayor William Peeler said the only time the village had discussed a possible consolidation was when he first took office, but at the time, the village board had decided against it.
If the village board were to entertain the idea in the future, he said, several factors would have to be addressed, namely how the town would absorb the services the village currently provides.
"The issues we see with this are the day to day issues you have in a village versus a town, the facilities we have to maintain and the staff we have to maintain," Peeler said. "The village and the town are two different creatures. It would be an unfamiliar strain on the town government."
Peeler said he thinks the biggest resistance would be from residents who would be concerned about losing their identity as a village, which has also been the county seat for years.
Instead of merging the town and the village, Peeler said he would be more willing to discuss additional shared services.
Currently the town fire department provides the village with fire protection, which was recently finalized by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who signed a bill last week allowing the town of Mohawk to expand its fire district to provide service to the village. The village fire department was dissolved last year.
That has allowed the village to redirect funds used for fire services to instead pay for needed infrastructure improvements that were previously unfunded, Peeler said.
In the future, Peeler said he wants to look into a possible joint zoning and/or planning board with the town, especially since many projects done in either municipality have some impact on the other.
For example, a regional business park that is being proposed in the town of Mohawk would increase traffic in the village of Fonda, Peeler said, which already experiences heavy truck traffic due to the Johnstown Industrial Park.
It is the same concern Bishop raised Monday when the town planning board discussed an update to its comprehensive plan. The regional business park is among the list of issues that the plan hopes to address.
"We have talked about adding a zoning board to the village, but why recreate the wheel if we can share a zoning board with the town," Peeler said. "I am all for consolidating services. It would be interesting to follow some of those avenues to see what we can come up with."
Contact Nicole Antonucci at firstname.lastname@example.org