BALLSTON SPA: Early warning upgrade

In case this winter's weather is as inclement as last season, the village of Ballston Spa will be ready with a back-up system for its emergency storms center of operations.

Several years ago, the village became one of the first municipalities in the state certified as a storm ready community, with a detailed plan in place for alerting residents, business owners and schools, as well as setting up shelters for people in need. The village's early warning system calls for the police station on Bath Street to be used as the central communications hub for all emergency responses, ranging from weather to environmental calamities such as an oil spill on village roads.

On Monday, Sept. 24, the village board of trustees strengthened Ballston Spa's response abilities by finishing up the installation of a back-up generator and new siren at the police station.

"With last year's ice storms, the need became clear for a back-up emergency generator, and we're also replacing the existing siren," said village Mayor John Romano.

The generator, which came with a price tag of $17,450, was purchased with a state grant. Monday night, bids were opened for the new siren, and awarded to a local company at the cost of $10,000.

"To keep costs down, the village DPW (Department of Public Works) will do much of the installation work, such as setting the concrete, wiring the conduit and getting the natural gas line in place," said trustee Bob Cavanaugh.

The siren is used for fires and is set off at noon and 6 p.m. daily. When used as a storm early warning system, the siren would be blasted in short intervals that would be clearly distinguishable from regular alarms.

In other business Monday night:

The board authorized members of the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to selectively clear some locust trees in the Woods Hollow Nature Preserve, owned and maintained by the village and the town of Milton. The passive recreation area, used by many residents for hiking, fishing and cross-country skiing, is a natural habitat for the Karner blue butterfly. Romano said the DEC recently determined the proliferation of the locust trees was interfering with the growth of bug species that the butterflies rely on as a primary food source. DEC officials will also use environmentally safe products on the tree stumps to inhibit future re-growth.

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