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Healthy Choices for Families

Town Board Minutes 3/28/06


        Others present:  Helen Kopke, Town Clerk; Eric Dickson, Town Attorney; Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water & Sewer; Frank Gavin, Superintendent of Highways; Kathy Matern, Town Planner; Paul Sebesta, Comptroller.

        542006_43120_0.png, expressed her opposition to the planned pavement between Hempstead Road and River Road Park.  She described her objections as environmental (wetlands and groundwater issues); and expense of construction and maintenance and suggested there are more urgent needs such as repairing the roof of the pavilion. She believes that paving an existing path that is well used by many people is not adding to Safe Routes and she suggested that plowing snow from Blatnik Park to their neighborhood would be an example of adding to the Safe Routes Program.    

        542006_43120_0.png, felt that paving over a wilderness trail through River Road Park is a heinous misuse of the area.  This is one of a few wilderness areas within Niskayuna and he thinks the Town would be spoiling a good thing.
Councilwoman Kasper stated that the Park was purchased from a Town resident at market price and it was never deeded forever wild.  The Town installed trails as part of the original concept and this section of the park was chosen for tails because of its buffer between the schools and the ball fields.  Safe Routes is a group of very active residents who came to the Parks Committee.  The purpose of the paved path is to allow people to get to Rosendale and Iroquois School because it is wet, and because many children ride bikes both to school and summer playgrounds.  It is not meant to destroy anything but actually add to the availability for everyone.  The Committee has worked on the concept for a long time and the main goal is to make a safe connection to get to school and after-school activities from the park. The intention was never to ruin the park.  Funds to support the project are coming out of parkland funds.  Their hope is to make the path more available because the wet trails make walking and biking hard to do.
Mr. Eddy stated that the paved path does not add another route.  People are already using the trails to walk and ride.  Many people jog on the trail and it is a nice soft surface.  Supervisor Smith stated that trails will continue to exist in the park that will not be paved.  This proposal is an attempt to expand the use to all people in Town such as parents who have children using training wheels and senior citizens who may ride but may need a more stable pathway. People who live in Rosendale Estates who might be in a wheelchair would have better access to the park without getting in a car.  He knows they will not make everybody happy by this, but this is an attempt to expand the use of one 1,200’ pathway.  He knows there was information put out that the Town is paving all the pathways and he believes this was an attempt to inflame the issue.  The Town never talked about paving all the pathways.  

542006_43120_0.png, questioned whether there were deed restrictions that the park was designated as forever wild. He inquired if the Town had a “Phase I Environmental” and a State Historic Park organization sign off, and if SEQR has been declared on the property.  Supervisor Smith stated that presently the Army Corps of Engineers was reviewing the project.  The Town has not called for a SEQR review as they are upgrading an existing pathway through this area.

542006_43120_0.png, is opposed to the paving the path.  She understands it is proposed with the best of intentions but the trails are generally used for walkers.  By paving, even a portion, we may be opening it up to bikers and other users, but it will diminish its usefulness to the people who use it for its quiet, natural setting.  
Does pavement make this a safe route or simply a well delineated path between Hempstead Road and the school?  She doesn’t believe that you cannot ride a bike on a hard packed surface. If the Town cannot just repair the dirt path could the Town install crushed stone or some other natural surface that is aesthetically pleasing, good for the joints, and also bike-friendly?  Her children use the paths for track runs and it is a treasured asset because it is a scenic natural area.  Other cross country runners and their parents are not happy that paving will diminish the natural paths.  She sees this park as a tiny oasis among many housing developments.  We have a lot of paving in Niskayuna but we don’t have very much green and natural space.  She urged the Board to try and find an alternative.  

542006_43120_0.png, stated that she and her children ride their bikes to Rosendale School.  She described the experiences she and her children are having while biking in the park including some freedom her children can enjoy.  She feels that the paving does not need to be done.  Supervisor Smith stated that this concept has been talked about for about one year.  There have been two newspaper articles that mentioned the connection, and it was discussed at the 2006 budget public hearing in October.  This has been part of an open discussion with the Safe Routes Committee.

542006_43120_0.png, felt there is very little opportunity for balance left between parks and residential areas because so much of the Town has been developed and she is looking to balance what is left.  She and her family use River Road Park a few times a week to snow shoe, cross country ski, run, walk, and bike.  Her children bike to school several times per week through the Park and they have never found biking to be difficult other than the “quick sand area.”  She supports maintaining the Park in its existing condition because it is meeting the greatest needs of the greatest number of people because it is multi-use.  Lishakill Park does not have the access because many times it is too muddy or too wet.  River Road Park is the perfect balance for multiple uses and she asked the Board to reconsider paving the path.

542006_43120_0.png, read an e-mail message from her husband Tim Tear (who was out of town).  He is very concerned about the Town’s plan to pave a woodland trail in River Road Park.  He uses the park on a regular basis and asked that the Town slow down its process.   He is in favor of Safe Routes but the routes should not have to be paved in the park.  He asked that they consider more appropriate permeable surfaces to achieve park management objectives and he requested that the ecological consequences be considered before implementation.  He stated that there are other, better, and lower cost options to achieve the objectives of Safe Routes and requested that the Board reconsider paving.
Ms. Forester noted the many users of the park.  Paving the park for one potential user group that does not need pavement to meet its needs at the expense of the experience of other users does not make sense to her.  She suggested using the $30,000 to properly place the culverts on the northeastern loop and create a board walk over the wet area. The area where the wetland was filled could finally be cleaned up.  She believes that the needs of all park users can be met without laying pavement and she believes that they should be allowed to participate when this type of decision is made.  She turned in a petition signed by more than 100 residents regarding paving trails in the Park.

542006_43120_0.png, stated that she walks in the Park almost every day.  She felt the park was a “glorious piece of nature” and she chooses this Park over walking the bike path.  She believes paving one path will change the mind set of users away from calm and peace.  She does not think the inconvenience of a puddle should justify paving over a piece of nature and she does not think it will add anything to our community.

542006_43120_0.png, spoke on behalf of the cross country team.  The path is what makes their course special and it is very important to their team.  Their group has maintained the path by clearing it so they can run and it is one of the favorites to run on.  Taking away part of the path would take away part of the spirit of their team and she does not agree with paving the path.

        The following resolutions were approved with a vote of five ayes, unless otherwise noted.

        Resolution 2006-78 accepts a bid for material, labor and equipment for the removal and installation of roofs on various buildings at the Waste Water Treatment Plant by Mid-State Industries, at a cost not to exceed $55,312.

        Resolution 2006-79 authorizes advertising for bids for the purchase of a new 2005 or newer one ton dump truck.

        Resolution 2006-80 authorizes the Supervisor to retain the services of Dodson & Associates Consulting Engineers to evaluate the water supply and pressure in the proximity of Hillside Commerce Park for the future development of the park at a total cost not to exceed $6,000.

        Resolution 2006-81 grants Vollmer Associates a Special Use Permit to allow the construction of a 61,560 SF medical office building at 2125/2127 River Road, subject to final site plan review and listed conditions.

        Resolution 2006-82 authorizes the acquisition of various highway equipment, and authorizes the issuance of serial bonds in the amount of $72,450.

        Resolution 2006-83 authorizes undertaking capital improvements relating to the Wastewater Treatment Plant and the issuance of serial bonds in the amount of $140,000.

        Resolution 2006-84 creates the position of Payroll Clerk in the Comptroller’s Office and appoints Joyce Gavin effective March 27, 2006, at a Grade 8 and salary of $25,450.

        Resolution 2006-85 authorizes the Supervisor to enter into an agreement with Charles F. Herman & Associates for administrative services for the maintaining of a health-reimbursement account for Town employee requesting reimbursement from certain increases in the Town’s health insurance coverage, at a cost of $200 per month, effective March 1, 2006.

        Resolution 2006-86 appoints Shana Malkis, to the temporary position of Clerical Aide on an as-needed basis, at $10 per hour, without benefits, effective March 27, 2006 to terminate December 31, 2006.

        Resolution 2006-87 accepts bids for the purchase of catch basins to be used by the Town in its Public Works operations during 2006.

        Resolution 2006-88 authorizes the purchase of apparel to be used by the Recreation Department from JCB Specialties, at a total cost not to exceed $750.

        Resolution 2006-89 authorizes payment for the publication of summer recreation booklets by Vincy’s Printing, at a cost not to exceed $2,000.

        Resolution 2006-90 calls for a public hearing April 11, 2006, at 7 p.m. to consider amendment of the Code, Chapter 81-2, entitled Dogs and Other Animals, to amend the definition of to leash and to provide for the definition of voice and sight control and voice and sight control area.

        Resolution 2006-91 authorizes the Supervisor to file an application for a grant under the Electronic Ticket and Accident Report Project in the amount of $28,884 to fund the purchase of in-car printers, scanners and computer related equipment to serve the Niskayuna Police Department.

        There being no further business to come before the Board, Supervisor Smith declared the meeting adjourned.

                                                Helen Kopke, Town Clerk

One Niskayuna Circle, Niskayuna, NY 12309
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