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Village Board in no rush to pass Joint Emergency Plan

MILLBROOK — Mayor Laura Hurley had a lengthy discussion with the village trustees about reintroducing the Emergency Preparedness Local Law at the Tuesday, Jan. 10, Village Board meeting. In December, the village and town met for a joint meeting to discuss the Joint Emergency Plan. The plan anticipates and responds to a major catastrophe, setting out procedures for the first 48 hours. Drafting the plan has taken four years on the part of officials and interested community members. At the Village Board meeting Hurley said she was hesitant to pass the local law because she felt the plan still needed work. The mayor said that residents have reached out to her with concerns about certain aspects of the proposed law. The plan states that a special police reserve will be put into place consisting of volunteers from the community, since all other local law enforcement may be stretched to their limit during such an emergency. In addition, the plan also provides the hierarchy of leadership and dictates who will be in charge in the town and village until outside support steps in.“The position of director and the reserves tend to be the two that get a lot of attention,” said Rebecca Valk, village attorney. “The question I have heard is whether or not those positions are necessary. They are not necessary at all. This is kind of a new area of practice ... the state requires it. The sample local law that the New York state legislator attached to the legislation you will find in the code books ... is just a sample and we can make it work the way we want.”Hurley said these sections are important because they give authority to the plan, however, if there is going to be resistance she is open to tweaking and simplifying the law.“It seems we are not prepared to have this on the books,” said Hurley. “I don’t see us ready to enforce something of this magnitude in the near future. It has people jumpy for some reason. I think they are afraid of who is going to be out there on the streets.“I would like to open it up to the board on whether you guys felt it would be a good idea to omit this at this point and see if we can add in similar things as we go along,” Hurley said. “I will remind everyone that the town and the village must pass the same law.”Trustee Edward Cox said it is important to remember this is a plan and will only take effect if the need arises, so that when the flag does go up everything is already in place. Hurley said she was concerned people would point fingers if the plan had to be used and may wonder exactly who make up the reserve and why there are not proper uniforms or badges for them. “I think we are still in the infancy here and that we just getting ahead of ourselves,” said Cox. “That’s what my recommendation would be. If we can put in here it’s not a demand, but it’s just what the law provides for us.”Valk suggested tweaking the language in the law and stating that the Joint Emergency Plan has the right to establish a joint town and village police reserve and or fire reserve if so desired. Valk said to set it up in a way that down the road future groups can go back and expand on the idea once everyone has got a better idea of the plan. “That’s what the plan is, it’s a guide,” said Cox. “It’s something that we are going to follow if the event arises.”Hurley said that there is still a lot of work to be done for other aspects of the plan and it would be more beneficial to move forward on those issues instead of focusing on the complexity of establishing reserves and directors if the plan is needed.“We understand the need to have the law’s authorities for the plan, but let’s not put too much pressure on ourselves to create these things that we are probably never going to do,” said Hurley.Stan Morse, who was one of the people on the committee who spent four years putting the plan together, said that the board is wise to not rush passing the law. Morse said that the Joint Emergency Plan is a living document, and like a comprehensive plan it is never finished. He said it constantly has to be looked over and updated over time. The board agreed to not reintroduce the proposed local law at this time but instead continue to tweak it and make revisions.

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