Common Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to table a resolution overriding Mayor Ann Thane’s veto of a previous resolution requesting that Police Chief Greg Culick stop allowing the partial closure of Main Street every Saturday for a farmers’ market. The vote comes after an incident last Saturday at which Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler removed street closure signs from one lane of Main Street during an argument with Market Manager Sherri Bardascini Crouse.
During the public comments portion of the meeting, Culick asked the council to consider tabling the override.
“Back in April…I met with [Crouse] and with the mayor and discussed the farmers’ market,” explained Culick. “There was some confusion in my mind that this was going to go all summer, and once it did, I tried to move it to a different area. Once we saw it was working on the street, it became no issue. Now I’ve been down there myself, I was down there on September 12, did a little shopping…there were zero issues… I was able to come off the bridge, make a u-turn and park wherever I wanted. You just can’t go on that one half of the street.”
Culick also addressed concerns about firetrucks being able to get through the area and said he had met with Fire Chief Michael Whitty on the matter.
“It’s passable if they have to get a fire rig down there, they can move one barricade and get it down there,” said Culick.
Culick said he had only received a complaint from a business owner.
“I told her there’s two different ways to access your business, there’s just not a problem,” said Culick.
Alderman Ron Barone said he had been under the impression that the entire street had been closed, and that he had no problem with the partial closure.
Community and Economic Director Rob von Hasseln said that the market had recently tried opening one lane of traffic, but that it had been a “near disaster.” He said that several cars had tried to travel east on the westbound lane and that it created a dangerous situation.
Von Hasseln also questioned what precedent the resolution would set. He said the resolution would be like saying to the police chief, “don’t listen to your duly elected boss, but do what we’ve asked you to do, on the basis of a consent resolution that was introduced at the last moment with no prior discussion and no documented proof.”
“That’s a bad precedent to set when dealing with the police department,” added von Hasseln.
Von Hasseln continued, “After what happened there this weekend, I have to point out, when a member of this council goes down and physically removes a police ordered barrier on the basis of a vetoed resolution, she must be acting on the certain assumption that you are going to override that veto and ex post facto justify her actions. Is that what you really want to do?”
After the public comments, Hatzenbuhler addressed reports that she had used coarse language during the argument on Saturday.
“I’d like to say I only responded when I was spoken to with a cuss word and I lost it and responded back. I don’t swear. I used the word one time. And it’s unfortunate that I stooped to somebody else’s level. I made a mistake,” said Hatzenbuhler.
“But all [New Paris Shop manager Philomena Iorio] has asked for is to open one side of the street and put a barricade down that side of the street with some orange tape, or orange cones, so that people can drive through. And somebody that’s down there all the time, there’s no reason that they cannot direct the traffic that comes through, which is very little, so it wouldn’t be an inconvenience or putting anybody’s life at risk. Last Saturday there was a billiards tournament, there was no place to park. When things like this happen, it shows that there is no communication going on between the business owners, none. Because then it could have been worked out.”
Hatzenbuhler also said she saw no reason why the farmers’ market couldn’t be held in the parking lot off of Main Street which the city leases.
According to a police report filed in regards to the incident on Saturday, Amsterdam Police Department Officer A. Priamo wrote, “I observed Hatzenbuhler walk up to the road closed sign which was on the street in front of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame building and watched her drag it away.”
After Tuesday’s, Culick said, “We will be meeting with the assistant district attorney tomorrow in regards to charge considerations for [Hatzenbuhler’s] conduct at the farmers’ market on Saturday.”