AT A REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 19TH DAY OF AUGUST, 2003, AT THE NISKAYUNA TOWN OFFICE BUILDING, ONE NISKAYUNA CIRCLE, NISKAYUNA, NEW YORK, THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS WERE PRESENT:
LIZ ORZEL KASPER, COUNCILWOMAN
WILLIAM R. CHAPMAN, COUNCILMAN
RICHARD A. HOLT, COUNCILMAN
DIANE P. O’DONNELL, COUNCILWOMAN
LUKE J. SMITH, SUPERVISOR
Public Hearing No. 1 - Considers establishment of Extension 150 to Consolidated Water District No. 1 for Cedar Hills Subdivision.
When no members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.
Public Hearing No. 2 – Considers establishment of Extension 105 to Sewer District No. 6 for Cedar Hills Subdivision.
When no members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.
TOWN CLERK’S BUSINESS
The minutes of the meeting of the Town Board of June 17, June 24, July 22, and August 5 were approved as presented.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
Gary Brown, President of the Town of Niskayuna Police Benevolent Association, addressed the Board about the current negotiations between the Town and the PBA. Both the Town and the PBA have filed for arbitration. He wished to clarify the PBA’s position so that there would be no misunderstanding.
After many months of fruitless negotiations, where the Town refused to make any decisions regarding their demands, they met again on July 14. He had high hopes and felt that an agreement should have been reached that day and he felt that the Town seemed intent on pushing the PBA into arbitration.
Two years ago the Supervisor’s position increased to full time and it was stated the Town was fiscally sound and the full time salary would have little or no effect on the financial position of the Town. The Supervisor had stated that “all he wanted was to be compensated for what he thought be a full time position” and the Supervisor compared his position to other Town managers.
The current PBA negotiations are the same situation in that it is not a money issue. The town offered 3% pay raises for two years; however, this does not allow the PBA to keep up with other police departments in this area and it will make them fall further behind. The Town then offered a 2% split for this year, which, over and above the Town’s offer, would cost $320 for the Town. Next year with another 2% split it will cost the Town approximately $19,000. This is “barely a blip on the radar screen” for a Town with a $1.5 million in surplus over its budget. They have asked for a compensation time policy that will actually save the Town a substantial amount of money however the Town would like to do away with comp time. He wondered why the Town would do away with something that saves
the money and he didn’t think this was smart money management.
They have requested personal time and sited that every police officer in the area is allowed personal time. Most, if not all, Niskayuna Town employees are given personal time and are granted up to five days per year. The PBA is asking for 4 days and it seems fair that they would be willing to settle for one day less than the rest of the Town employees. The Town of Glenville allows up to seven days per year without conditions.
Of the 14 demands made by the Town, the PBA agreed, without condition, to six. Three more were agreed after clarification and they agreed to these demands on their second meeting with the Town. He asked why the PBA could not get a yes or no until July 14 and wondered if there was a lack of communication between the Supervisor and the Town Board members.
The Town has asked for numerous “give-backs” during the on-going negotiations such as having their health care reduced to single coverage when they retire. He reminded the Board that the PBA already pays a higher percentage for health care than comparable towns within the capital district. He has not read another contract in the State that pays as much as Niskayuna PBA for health care. The Town also wants to eliminate allowances for cleaning uniform and clothing allowances. Most other departments are raising these allowances not cutting them.
The members of the Niskayuna PBA are and will continue to be highly motivated, dedicated, and professional in every way. They are on the job seven days a week, 24 hours per day. They do not go home early when it snows too hard. They can be called on any holiday, any hour, and any time of the day or night. Although they have filed for arbitration, they are still open to any negotiations that the Town would like to discuss.
Supervisor Smith stated that in the same spirit of clarification that the creation of the full time Supervisor came about as a result of a committee formed by the Town. The salary was pegged from the lowest comparable in the region. The total amount of that salary was less than the total amount for a part-time Supervisor with a Deputy. Therefore, it was not a money issue as far as costing the taxpayers more but it was an issue of having a full time Supervisor.
He went on to state that Mr. Brown failed to mention that in the previous contract the Town gave what amounted to a 5% increase for three years to bring the department up to the average of other police departments. They are offering them the same raise this year and next year as they are offering all other Town employees and the PBA feels that they should get more. The Town played “catch up” last time and they are not proposing it this time. One of the major reasons is the retirement and health insurance cost for Town employees. These two items alone could result in a 7-8% tax increase to the taxpayers of the Town and it is a difficult year.
Doug McFadden, 1388 Rowe Road, filed a petition from residents of Rowe Road and Denise Drive asking for corrective action regarding their inadequate storm sewers. The last two rainfalls in August did a lot of damage to their yards, shrubs, and basements. The water is building up on Rowe and Denise and the storm sewers cannot handle the amount of water. They have talked to the Highway Department and Building Inspector but have not seen any action being taken as of yet.
Supervisor Smith stated that it is sometimes difficult to see if action is being taken. Rich Pollock, Town Engineer, has viewed a number of sites around Town. The two rainstorms were significant events and a majority of the problems have been in the Rowe Road area such as Woodcrest, Mohawk Club, Rosehill Boulevard, and down to Windsor Estates. Mr. Pollock has had discussions with the Mohawk Club and are exploring potential issues of the piping of water at the club. He was not suggesting that the responsible party is the Mohawk Club, the Town is looking at the whole area. There are other areas in Town that have had difficulties with the recent rain events.
We had 2” of rain in one hour on August 11. Even with a retention pond upstream at the Mohawk Club, it is unlikely that the water would stay in the drainage system if we had another downpour similar to this. A 25-year storm equates to four inches of rain over a 24 hour period with a peak rain of just over 2” rain in one hour. We had just short of what would amount to a 25-year storm. When rain falls such as this there is no way it stays within the system. He is confident that we are not going to be able to build a drainage system to address this level of water and we are looking at possible mitigation to insure that we get as much water into the drainage system. He will be getting back to the residents to let them know what the Town will be doing.
Mary Eleanor Shilling, 1400 Rowe Road, described damage that resulted in the last two rainstorms and the fact that after living here for 16 years she has never had water come up to her home as it did in early August. She feels this is an urgent issue and a very serious problem that has risen in the last few years. Her backyard looked like a river and she saw an 8’ long, 10” diameter tree trunk floating past her. She wanted the Board to be aware of the seriousness of the problem.
Steve MacMinn, 1404 Rowe Road, has the lowest home on Rowe Road and had the worst damage. The creek has come into his basement three times since 1995 (once during the winter). He had water 3’ high on the back wall of his home cascading around the doors and windows and ended up 18” deep in the basement. He lost a sofa, loveseat, 27” TV, video game systems, VCR, PC, video monitor, three twin mattresses, wall to wall carpet, and hundreds of books. He went from a finished basement to an unfinished basement in one day. He gave the Board pictures showing the water level on the inside and outside of the house.
Mr. McMann feels that the issue is not debris floating down the creek but is that the culvert underneath Rosehill Boulevard is too small. At the height of floods, water coming out of the culvert is to capacity while water backs up into the yards of homes on Rowe Road above. He inquired if the Town could apply for federal disaster relief funds.
Joe D’Aniello, 1427 Rosehill Boulevard, stated that the storm of August 4 and 11 saw the creek back up significantly. 10” of water damaged his basement. During storms the water coming out of the culvert comes out very hard and fast, while water near his home pools.
Ray Donnelly, 2532 Hilltop Road, explained that Hilltop Road has been experiencing a problem for about five years. There is a fairly large storm sewer easement between his property and that of his neighbor. Much of the water flows over the easement and rushes at a good pace, fills his backyard almost as high as his picnic table, and ends up in his and his neighbor’s basement. The easement used to take the water but the water from this past storm was waist deep. He felt that the Town Board needed to demonstrate good faith in resolving the water problem either on its own or with the Mohawk Golf Club. He believes much of the water problems he experiences are definitely pouring down from the golf course. They have a big pond that does not exist normally. Once we get
any kind of rain or snowmelt the pond develops and ends up in his yard or basement which used to be semi-finished. He has lost his paneling, rugs, couches, etc. and he has received a FEMA loan in the past.
Brian Coad, 1374 Rowe Road, asked the Board for the Town’s plan about flooding issue. He would like to see a commitment by the Town to look at the culverts and the issues that residents have raised. He wants to see how the Town will tackle the issue and how we will come to a resolution.
Supervisor Smith stated that Town official’s will be back to the residents as soon as the Town Engineer lays out what the responsibilities are and what the Town can do.
At this time when no other members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed Privilege of the Floor.
Each of the following resolutions was approved with a vote of five ayes unless otherwise noted.
Resolution 2003-181 authorizes the purchase of ArcView, a geographic information system program for Windows from Applied GIS, at a total cost of $1,230.
Resolution 2003-182 creates a fee structure for water and sewer trunk connection charges to be charged for structures other than single family homes.
Resolution 2003-183 accepts a $5,000 grant from the Niskayuna Community Foundation, an affiliate of The Community Foundation for the Capital Region, to assist the Niskayuna Youth Court with its daily operating expenses.
Resolution 2003-184 authorizes Assessor Amy Houlihan to attend the New York State Assessor’s Association Annual Meeting on September 7-10 at a cost of $716 with a portion to be reimbursed from the New York State Office of Real Property.
Resolution 2003-185 authorizes Paul Sebesta to attend the New York State Government Finance Officers Association Fall Conference on September 29 at a cost of $50 and the New York State Association of Municipal Purchasing Officials Fall Conference September 26.
Resolution 2003-186 authorizes the purchase of concrete block and masonry materials from Dagostino Building Blocks at a cost not to exceed $4,800.
Resolution 2003-187 employs additional persons in the Recreation Department for various programs.
Resolution 2003-188 authorizes Mark Sollohub and Darryl Ostrander to attend the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police 2003 Annual Training Conference on August 24 through 28 in Lake Placid, at a cost per person of $150 for registration, $126 per night for lodging.
Resolution 2003-189 authorizes a special use permit to ADD Development & Management for an 81,700 SF medical arts building at 2125 River Road. The resolution was approved with three ayes, with Councilman Kasper and Councilwoman O’Donnell voting no.
Councilman Chapman outlined many facets of the project including approval by the Planning Board, Conservation Advisory Board, and the Schenectady County Planning Department. He also outlined various aspects such as the improvement of access to state-of-the art medical care for Town residents, and traffic issues.
Councilwoman Kasper was disturbed that the Capital District Transportation Committee suggested a roadway coming through from the condos, going around the medical buildings, and out to Balltown Road which would mean moving the soccer fields. This was a good idea but was came too late to move the soccer fields. She is concerned that Balltown Road and the Rexford Bridge expansion is still not scheduled and she felt that with the addition of this project the traffic in this area would be horrible. Also, there are empty medical arts buildings in the area and felt that 81,000 SF is a huge building. Because the Town has experienced drainage problems, she also requested that the Planning Board require that drainage plans be submitted as part of site review. Supervisor Smith remarked that new regulations
require that DEC become involved and they need storm water permits prior to construction.
Supervisor Smith has visited the area on 15 occasions during the day between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and never had to wait to get out of the entrance from Zenner Road. During the day during patient visits traffic is not heavy. Councilwoman O’Donnell and Councilwoman Kasper felt the lack of traffic reflected that school is not in session. There is morning and afternoon kindergarten and school is released at 2:30. Smith went on to state that the Planners in the County and Town recommended approval of this project. There have been limited automobile accidents in the area, this is a permitted use in the zone, and for us to deny this we would have to come up with rather substantial reasons. He feels it is important that we have quality medical care in the community and it is important that we have
Councilwoman O’Donnell felt that although we had statistics about the number of workers in the building, she believes it will be a lot more people based on her experience working in the medical field. She believes the traffic will be much more significant than the study demonstrates and feels that the project is too big.
Councilman Holt stated that the 9.3 acres makes this less dense than other medical buildings already approved. Traffic is a major concern for all of us. He also visited mid-day and saw some traffic aggravations but these already exist. The increased traffic in the heart of the day will not increase the impact of the traffic issues already there. He is concerned about the driveway and strongly opposes any infringement of the soccer fields. If the driveway were moved further east, sight lines would improve and left-hand turns would be safer. He feels this is a good project and requested close monitoring by the Planning Board’s site review process.
Resolution 2003-190 amends the Zoning Ordinance to allow buildings in the C-N Neighborhood Commercial Zoning District that have both commercial and residential uses located on different floors.
Resolution 2003-191 calls for a public hearing October 7, 2003 at 7 p.m. to receive comments on the Town’s proposed Agency Plan for Section 8 Rental Assistance.
There being no further business to come before the Town Board, the Supervisor adjourned the meeting.
Helen Kopke, Town Clerk