AuSable Town Council members are brainstorming the best course of action for housing the Highway Department's vehicles next winter.

The former town highway garage in Harkness is unusable due to mold problems.

HELP WITH STORAGE

While the council has considered building a new highway garage or using a pole barn and a construction trailer, town vehicles, in the meantime, are being housed in Peru.

As this will not be possible in the winter, the Town Council also suggested that one vehicle each be housed in Chesterfield, Peru and Black Brook.

Highway Superintendant Timothy Booth said this can be a problem, as time would be lost moving back and forth greater distances than necessary.

That can be dangerous during blizzards and snowstorms, he said.

Booth said that he plans to have a construction trailer available soon to use at the town highway location.

The Town Council moved to pass a resolution to get the trailer and portable toilets for the highway workers as soon as possible, but Town Supervisor Sandra Senecal said the results were still pending.

ESTIMATING COSTS

Town Councilor Darcy Pray said costs to renovate the former highway garage could be at least $200,000.

A pole barn is in the works, and Booth believes it should be sufficient to house the vehicles during the winter.

Still, the ultimate goal is to have a new facility, rather than coming in an hour early to let the vehicles warm up, Booth said.

"We're working toward building a new building there."

Some estimates have the cost of a new building at more than $1.7 million.

The project might be approved, leaving open the possibility of a permissive referendum. This allows the Town Council to move ahead with a new building unless it receives a petition from a certain number of registered voters calling for a vote by town residents.

Senecal said that with the help of AES Engineering, more definitive plans and cost figures are in the works.

Public hearings will then be held so residents can voice their opinions.

"We're going to have some issues," Senecal said of housing the vehicles this winter.

ROAD SIGNS

Booth also announced that by 2013 all road signs will need to be changed to high-visibility, high-definition signs at almost double the cost of the previous signs.

A stop sign that cost about $60 will now be about $120.

Town radios will also be doubling their frequency, with only four of the previous 13 radios being able to accept the changing technology.

The FCC license will run out in 2012, Booth said, and it can't be renewed with the radios they have now.

"We're still running 20-year-old radios."

The cost of each new radio is about $800.

RIVER TESTS

Also at the meeting, Carol Treadwell of the Ausable River Association presented findings from water testing taken over the past couple of years.

The tests were to determine the amount of total dissolved solids in the water to see how safe the Ausable River is for swimming.

While the source of these solids is often linked to natural sources, many of the spikes found can be traced to human influence, she said.

Two sites were found to have high levels of total dissolved solids and sodium chloride: Norton Brook and Cascade Brook.

Sodium chloride, commonly traced to road salt, is washing into the river in these areas.

The tests — while pointing out two possible problem areas — can put to rest residents' worries that the Ausable River is unsafe for swimming in the town, Treadwell said.

"Ausable River has very good water quality, some of the best in the country."

Treadwell said an Ausable River Green-Up Day is being held Sunday, June 27, at Riverside Park in Keeseville.

The goal is to clean up trash along the river, and prizes will be given out for the most and the funniest trash.

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