SOUTH RUSSELL — Members of the village Finance Committee met with the Whitetail Homeowners Association last week to discuss utilizing their land for the Manor Brook Headwater Stream Restoration Project.
The project is designed to minimize damage of erosion and flooding caused by heavy rain and storms and is focused primarily on the Whitetail and Manor Brook area along Chillicothe Road.
The goal of the meeting, Mayor William G. Koons said, is an agreement between the village and the homeowners’ association “that we can use your property” for the project.
The meeting discussion revolved around a miscommunication regarding an additional fee of $18,000 that Whitetail was seeking for access to the property. This fee had only recently been brought to the committee’s attention, officials said.
Peter Dougherty became president of the homeowner’s association in January and had to reconcile many of the issues of the project stretching back to 2018, officials said.
One of the issues concerned some of the land parcels that were supposed to go to Whitetail and were never transferred from their association’s law firm Kaman-Cusimano, officials said.
“Prior to my involvement, there was a discussion that Thomas and Thomas [Law Firm] had with our counsel Kaman-Cusimano telling us that if you want ownership of the property, you’ll have to pay a certain sum to Thomas and Thomas and of course there would be legal fees to cover that transfer,” said Mr. Dougherty.
Whitetail board member Bob Royer said their involvement in this is really to help facilitate access to the property.
“Up until now, we thought they did their due diligence and said yes, Whitetail-Master is the group that should be entitled so we proceeded down that road,” Mr. Royer said. “As far as we’re concerned, we are in agreement and would like to see the project go forward.”
Councilman Mike Carroll voiced concerns over the fee saying council members were told there would be no additional costs.
“The disappointing thing and the consternation I have is that we were told there would be no additional costs for this, we had other options for this project,” said Mr. Carroll. “It sounds as if this was being negotiated for quite some time.”
Mr. Dougherty said that the goal of the association is to help the community by moving the project forward and does not understand the resistance of Village Council, although he respects each member.
Mayor Koons added, “When we are done with these little technicalities, its going to be a great improvement, and we’re motivated to get this done and help these people out and that’s what we are going to do.”
Mr. Carroll said that although this lapse in communication has caused complications, it should not derail the project.
Mr. Dougherty said that the restoration project has a high priority and wants to move forward with the project as soon as possible.