AT A REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 7TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER, 2004, 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
Liz Orzel Kasper, Councilwoman (absent for Resolutions)
Diane P. O’Donnell, Councilwoman (absent for Resolutions)
Public Hearing No. 1 – introduced the Agency Plan for 2004 for Section 8 Rental Assistant Program. Joseph Mastrianni, Administrator of the program gave an outline of the 2004 Plan. This is a rental assistance program where rent is paid for the tenants in privately owned housing. There are four components to the program; vouchers, mainstream for disabled (10 units are reserved); family self sufficiency; and the home ownership program. The federal government contributes $200,000 per year to the program and there are no Town funds involved. There are currently 28 Niskayuna families on the waiting list compared to 17 on last year’s waiting list. Due to federal budget cuts, they are currently helping 42 families instead of the 46 families that
could have been helped with the prior budget.
When no members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.
Public Hearing No. 2 – Amends the Vehicle & Traffic for Parking Prohibited Certain Hours on Via Del Mar between Almeria and Nott Street).
Supervisor Smith stated that the Town had received a petition from residents on Via Del Mar requesting this amendment.
Kim Koenig, 1464 Via Del Mar, stated that they have noticed many students parking on Via Del Mar which made the road congested and difficult to get through (especially school buses). It was difficult to make turns out of Via Del Mar because of obstructed lines of sight. She felt that if just one end of the street is signed, the students will probably just park further down on the street and her preference would be to sign just her end of the street. She is willing to speak to the School Board.
Ben Vandeputte, 1432 Via Del Mar, has not seen a safety issue. He wondered if this was more an issue of not wanting students parking on the street rather than a safety issue. He felt signs would create a great inconvenience for residents who had guests who needed to park in the street and has never felt obstructed views at the corner.
Councilwoman O’Donnell stated that the Town continues to push the high school students further and further but it doesn’t seem to matter to them. The high school has additional parking this year, but costs $100. She would like to bring this issue up with the high school. Signs inconvenience the neighbors so she would like to see more cooperation with the high school.
He asked if a parking permit has been considered for residents which would be a way to compromise. Supervisor Smith responded that this has been tried in Albany and it doesn’t work. It is not so much a problem with residents but their visitors.
Supervisor Smith has sensed he is there are more cars parking at the end of Via Del Mar from nearby businesses.
Public Hearing No. 3 – Amends the Vehicle & Traffic for Parking Prohibited Certain Hours on Clifton Park Road between Almeria and Nott Street.
Tom Bayly, 1544 Clifton Park Road, asked why the School Board was not in attendance to address the situation. He doesn’t believe this is a Town problem but a School Board problem and asked who came up with the $100 fee and how many parking spots are at the high school. The Town asked for relief and was told the School Board’s policy and as a taxpayer Mr. Bailey wondered where the $100 parking fees were going. The School Board has a policy that parking is a senior privilege and the problem becomes juniors and other drivers who chose not to pay the $100. Clifton Park Road is a drag strip and some residents will park in the street to deter speeders. He felt that if the School Board could arbitrarily come up with a $100 parking fee, why can’t the Town have
cars towed plus enforce a fine. He does not want “no parking” signs on the street. He has six drivers in his family and visitors won’t be able to park on the street. This also could become an economic issue for the Town if overtime is needed for plows who cannot get through roads.
Councilwoman Kasper requested that Mr. Bailey express his view to the School Board. Supervisor Smith and Councilwoman Kasper have spoken to this Board and questioned their policy.
Jim Corcoran, 1460 Clifton Park Road, stated that the parking problem has been increasing for over 30 years and Clifton Park Road is a drag strip from 2 to 5 p.m. He felt that either more parking places are needed or find out why students do not take the bus. He feels the fee should be raised to $50 to $100 per month to park and they will soon use the buses already provided.
Leslie Gold, 1919 Pawtucket Avenue, is frustrated by the parking situation. She has written to the School Board but received no response. She feels the policy is absurd and they should do something more constructive than to pass the problem onto the Town. Some students need their cars to get to work or after school activities. To have parking as a senior perk is unrealistic and this needs to be addressed.
Supervisor Smith stated that he felt that parents should be the ones making the decision who drives to school not the School Board and it would be great if parents make the decision to have their children take the bus. It appears 50% of the public want the signs, and 50% don’t. He wished the School Board would reconsider their policy.
The Board discussed the issue further speculating that some students who are not seniors park on the street because they do not want to pay the $100 to park at the high school. Adding a parking fee on top of the paying school taxes is also a problem.
Councilman Chapman felt it would helpful if the high school used all of the spots available, the Town offered spots, and Reggie Scott offered spaces. We are fixing a problem that is not ours and there are a number of empty spaces available at the parking lot that are not used. Councilman Holt stated that at one time there were senior privileges that did not involve money and these questions are for the School Board and the Town Board should not be involved. The School Board should recognize that what they do has an impact on the community and the Town Board can only react.
Elmer Birch, 2097 Orchard Park Drive, suggested that there be an assignment to the physics and math students calculating how much fuel is used and how much it costs to use a private automobile instead of a transportation system that comes directly to your home that is already paid for. He suggested that a prize be given just for the analysis by the Board of Education.
When no other members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.
TOWN CLERK’S BUSINESS
The minutes of the meeting of July 20, August 10 and August 24, 2004 were approved.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
Frank Mauro, Viewmont Drive, stated that there is a question whether or not the Town should hire a private consultant regarding the renewal of the cable franchise agreement. The more important issue is joint cooperative approach. Whether the Town uses a paid professional consultant or the Public Service Commission’s Assistance Division, he believes there are tremendous economies of scale both in the franchising process and in the operation of the cable system. All of the parties feel that cooperative franchise negotiations are appropriate.
He went through the steps that the Public Service Commission suggests in preparing for renewal to illustrate that if the renewal process is done well, it take steps that take time and effort and it is more efficient to do them cooperatively. These steps are to review of past performance (could be public hearing) and review of current franchise agreement and performance (he felt that the Town should have a professional needs assessment rather than do it ourselves).
The Consumer Federation of America, AARP, and other groups are lobbying the FCC to require the cable companies to offer more customization of choices. Channel 17 is shown on Channel 11 on our cable system and shows NiskyNet. Right now on an individual school district basis it will be difficult to ramp up the local education channel to have a substantial amount of local programming other than the “crawl.” This is an opportunity for the school districts and this has worked where there is someone facilitating it. As part of the franchise renewal process there can be some funding for educational access coordinator who facilitates this and gets it rolling. The school district should not have to pay for this it should come out of the cable franchise negotiations.
Putting all the municipalities together creates a large market.
Channel 16 gets funding through the franchise. They can say that it is passed on in rates which is a dilemma because “what the market will bear” determines the rate. The real opportunity is to make something out of educational access. If we had a central location like we do for public access then different school districts can all bring programming and we can get a critical mass going with locally originated educational programming. To be even handed and fair there has to be a written request for proposals. Some aspects of this the Public Service Commission can do, some it can’t (like the needs assessment). If you are going to do the franchising process well, the steps the Public Service Commission recommends are time and money consuming. We can do them cheaper and better if we
do them cooperatively. In the operation of the franchise we can have a better educational access channel if we do it cooperatively rather than individually.
Supervisor Smith stated that combining together seems to be driven more by public access than anything else. The Board is trying to learn about this and has talked to consultants. The County has gotten one proposal and he hopes the County is getting more proposals. He is lukewarm to paying a consultant to do something that he believes (from what he has heard) the Public Service can do. No one has been able to show him why we should join with the other municipalities. He would love to have Mr. Mauro come in and talk more
Elmer Birch, 2097 Orchard Park Drive, stated that the there will be economies of scale if Time Warner sits down and negotiates a contract with representatives from all municipalities in the County versus Niskayuna on its own. Our Channel 17 educational channel is currently running the Annenberg default (much of it coming out of California). If they start negotiating and doing programming from here they could create an institutional network to serve Schenectady County. This would tie together all the police, fire, public libraries, and all Clerk’s offices in terms of moving documents around and having training sessions. It can be used for voice, data, or imaging, and is a tremendous resource. He stated rates are controlled by what the market will bear and
there is no competition. He asked the Board to request proposals for the entire county. He felt there are economies of scale regarding both the type of negotiations that can be done and the broad range of programming that can result.
Leslie Gold, 1919 Pawtucket Avenue, stated that Channel 17 is the public broadcasting station that is chartered by the State and cable TV only agrees to carry the local stations while access channels are different. A needs assessment needs to be done but she does not think this needs to be contracted out. The Town will have a harder time proving that we need more access channels. She fears that the average subscriber will end up paying for added service. The biggest complaint she hears is the lack of choice with the packages offered.
The following resolutions were approved with a vote of three ayes unless otherwise noted (Councilwoman O’Donnell and Kasper were absent for this portion of the meeting).
Resolution 2004-242 allows the construction of a shed on a portion of a Town easement to Hugo and Brenda Bach, owners of 830 Downing Street.
Resolution 2004- 243 authorizes the addendum to the Inter-municipal Service Agreement between the Town and the Town of Colonie.
Resolution 2004- 244 authorizes the sale of a used GMC dump truck to Alex Lyons Son Sales, for a cost of $800.
Resolution 2004-245 approves the application of Maldel, LLC, a Special Use Permit to allow the construction of a 12,394 SF professional office building at 1760 Union Street with conditions.
Resolution 2004-246 calls for a public hearing September 21, 2004 at 7 p.m. to consider the application of Sunmark Federal Credit Unin to allow for the use of 1521 Balltown Road as a credit union branch with a 600 SF addition and the demolition of existing buildings at 1517 Balltown Road.
Resolution 2004-247 authorizes Kathleen Matern, and a member of the Planning Board, to attend the 2004 New York Planning Federation Conference, September 19-22 at a cost of $531.
Resolution 2004-248 authorizes the Supervisor to retain the services of Cool Insuring Agency, as a medical insurance broker effective October 1, 2004.
Resolution 2004 –249 appoints Robert Hill to the position of substitute bus driver, to work during times of absence of the regular bus driver, at an hourly rate of $12.731, effective retroactive to June 1, 2004.
Resolution 2004-250 authorizes the Superintendent of Highways to rent a Vermeer Wheel trencher from Douglas Dyer & Sons, for the paving of the bike path at a cost not to exceed $9,800.
Resolution 2004-251 calls for a public hearing September 21, 2004 at 7:05 p.m. to consider amendment of the Vehicle & Traffic Code to provide for a Stop sign on Commerce Park Drive at Hillside Avenue for traffic proceeding south on Commerce Park Drive.
Resolution 2004-252 calls for a public hearing September 21, 2004 at 7:10 p.m. to consider amendment of the Vehicle and Traffic Code to provide for a Stop sign on Woodfield Drive at Pinecrest Drive for traffic proceeding south on Woodfield Drive.
There being no further business to come before the Town Board, the Supervisor adjourned the meeting.
Helen Kopke, Town Clerk