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A little more on those rail trail signs...
For one thing, we don't know how much maintenance for the trail costs the county, as if this were an important question. It's not, the question before us isn't this, it's whether or not we'll be the only community in the nation to have splattered advertising signs on our rail trail after construction. But, I digress...
Putnam County executive Maryellen Odell claims it costs us $100,000 a year for maintenance while the legislature says it's closer to $60,000. In the first instance it costs us $9100 a mile and in the second $5400 a mile. Either way someone is either lying to us or that eleven foot wide path is paved with gold. And does it really take eight guys, two in suits, to cut a fallen limb from across the path? (as it's been reported on more than one occasion!)
Bikepath claims that there's a 50/50 split - after their expenses - expenses which are also unknown. But let's assume they sell 44 ads (that's every half mile in both directions) at $200 a year. That makes $8800 of which the county portion would be $4400.
But wait! Bikepath has expenses first!
I'll assume that means they'd be sending someone in a motorized vehicle the length of the trail at least once a week, replacing and repairing any signs damaged or stolen. And the signs have to be purchased and printed. Standard mile markers used by NYS along state highways run at about $7 per and to allow for some fuzziness let's call it $1500.
So that leaves $7300 before regular maintenance of the signs. If that guy spends one full day a week on the trail and he's getting paid $15 an hour (thus the expense to employ him is closer to $22) and he works a seven hour day his cost will be $5460 for the year leaving us with $1840 to split meaning our take would be $920.
Really? $920? All this for $920?
On the other hand, if their numbers are monthly (they've changed their bottom number from $200 to $50 (I wonder why?)) and they sell 44 adverts each month at $200 then we're talking some real money here, to the tune of $105,600.
But no one in their right mind will pay $200 for a *once inch banner* on a 7 inch wide sign so let's go back to that $50. and we get $26,400.
That's better... on the face of it. But now their maintenance costs have changed because many, if not most of those signs will need to be brought in to have the old advert removed and a new one placed which could easily double the labor and materials cost. So, let's be conservative and double the dude's employment costs to $11,000 which we'll take from the $26,400 which leaves us with $15,400 and the county's take would be $7700. A year.
I'm willing to bet MEO has already spent that much on damage control over this debacle.
County Legislator Ginny Nacerino claims that mile markers are essential to safety on the trail and therefore supports Bikepath Country's project but forty-four mile markers, using standard State DOT markers, at half mile intervals in both directions can be installed for $1500 in materials. If the county highway department cannot come up with $1500 out of $130,000,000 budget then we are truly sunk. And if we are, let's get a collection started right here at News That Matters to buy the county their damned mile markers *without* advertising on them.
But let's not lose focus of one additional thing: Bikepath Country has changed their business model over and again. They misled the county on their past business experience as reported in no less than three newspaper articles. The discussion they and the Chambers of Commerce originally created was to suggest the rail trail was not being maintained - which is false - and that there will be "no cost to the county". (Remember the Tilly Foster contract and the Putnam National golf course?). When all of that was debunked MEO and the legislature came back with the "public safety" argument which is also false.
And yet, for reasons that are unknown (and is the true root of this entire story) the county Legislature and the County Executive are adamant about promoting this thing by awarding Bikepath Country with a county contract - built on false pretense.
This is Putnam County government at work.
Today, Monday June 24th, take 5 minutes out of your day to call Maryellen Odell's office and say, "NO!" to this foolish enterprise and let's keep for ourselves a place to escape commercialism. You can reach her at (845) 808-1000 or by email at PutnamCountyExecutive@putnamcountyny.gov. Then call the county Legislature at (845) 808-1020 or email them at email@example.com.
Together we can win this and keep our county where the country begins.
PS: I noticed while writing this that the county has removed the county executive's email address from the county website. It's clear we're winning this.... let's put this over the top!
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