POUGHKEEPSIE – Poughkeepsie Common Council Chairperson Sarah Salem is resigning from the Poughkeepsies’ Joint Water Project Board after missing six meetings in a row. Salem received a letter from the water board Chairman Marc Nelson earlier this month regarding her continued absence. The other members of the board authorized sending the letter to Salem.
Salem’s seat on the board is an appointment of the common council that Salem chairs. She has missed all six water board meetings this year. Nelson’s letter said in part “I know you can understand the importance of attendance and participation at the regular meetings, as well as the duty of the chair to promote the effectiveness of the board or commission.”
The letter went on to ask Salem to contact Nelson and the water board members if Salem will be able to “meet the time and commitment responsibilities of your appointment going forward, or whether the Board should request that the City’s Common Council appoint a replacement at its earliest convenience.”
Salem plans to resign, telling Mid-Hudson News that the common council chair recently informed Nelson of the impending resignation. “The meeting times just don’t work with my work schedule,” Salem said. “I’ll be stepping off once we find another councilmember to step on. It’s an important board and a position that should be occupied by someone who has the time to participate.”
Fellow Common Councilman Chris Petsas was disappointed by Salem’s lack of participation. “It’s unfortunate that Sarah chose to ignore attending meetings for a water board that directly affects Poughkeepsie residents and their drinking water but had the time to pass resolutions regarding Ulster County water systems.” Petsas was referring to a non-binding resolution that the council passed supporting Ulster County’s issues with the Esopus Creek discharges.
Town of Poughkeepsie Councilwoman Jessica Lopez also received a letter from the water board regarding attendance issues but did not respond to a request for comment from Mid-Hudson News.
The Joint Water Board is the governing body that oversees the Joint Water Project of the Town and City of Poughkeepsie. The Jointly owned water treatment facility provides safe, potable water to more than 90,000 customers regionally. The Joint Water Board meets on the first Tuesday of every month.
There are six members of the board. Three are appointed by the cCity and three by the town. The Chairmanship alternates annually. Marc Nelson, Poughkeepsie’s City Administrator was the chairman of the board in 2019 and is the current chair this year. The City of Poughkeepsie code requires that one of the city’s appointments is a common council member. The other two are appointed by the mayor. Current members for the city are Nelson, Rich DuPilka, P.E., City Engineer, and Sarah Salem. For the town, they are Supervisor Jay Baisley, and Town Board members Bill Carlos and Jessica Lopez.