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Healthy Choices for Families

Town Board Minutes 12/19/06


        Others present:  Barbara Nottke, Deputy Town Clerk; Eric Dickson, Town Attorney; Paul Sebesta, Comptroller; Frank Gavin, Superintendent of Highways; Kathy Matern, Town Planner; Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water & Sewer; and Lewis Moskowitz, Chief of Police.

        272007_40807_0.png representative of Schenectady League of Women Voters read a statement written by the League and read to the Town of Rotterdam Town Board with regard to a proposal by Rotterdam to rezone the property and build a park on the aquifer recharge area.  This has immediate relevance to the City of Schenectady and the Town of Niskayuna since this aquifer supplies part of Niskayuna’s water.  This was part of a restriction that was placed on the land to be used as “forever wild” which was done at the time that the Rotterdam Mall was built.  
        The League has been in the forefront to insure safe drinking water and to protect water quality at the regional, state, and local levels.  They are concerned about the actions of the Rotterdam Town Board to develop a park and recreation complex on lands of the Great Flats Nature Preserve.  This includes rezoning of these lands as a step toward parkland development.  The League cannot support any proposed development in the Preserve for the following reasons:
1)  The Preserve contains Class I wetlands; the most environmentally sensitive of the five wetlands classifications.
2)  A large portion of the proposed site is located in the Aquifer Protection Zone I, the Wellhead Protection Zone.  Development would violate the Intermunicipal Watershed Rules and Regulations which protect the integrity of the land over the county aquifer. The revised proposal by the Town to develop a recreation complex only in Aquifer Protection Zone 2 is not an improvement because Zone 2 lands are still recharge zones.  Polluted run-off form parking lots, playing fields, buildings, etc. in recharge areas would find its way into the aquifer.  Run-off would include salt, oil, and pesticides from turf grass maintenance as well as other pollutants, posing a threat to the quality of our drinking water.  The quantity of water which is available to soak into the ground to recharge the aquifer is compromised when impermeable surfaces such as parking lots, structures of any kind, or playing fields are built in a recharge zone.
3) There are deed restrictions on the property from the Rotterdam Square Mall permit which prohibit any construction or excavation activities, improvements or conditions, except as permitted by DEC for a wildlife sanctuary, a wildlife park, and nature trail.
4) The Preserve lies over and within a Sole Source Aquifer as designed by the US EPA.  This is the sole source of drinking water for most residents of Schenectady County.  
5)  The League, as a County-wide organization, believes that actions by the Town of Rotterdam to allow construction of any kind in the Preserve will reduce both the quantity of water recharging the aquifer, and the quality of that water.  
6) The League is hopeful that other less environmentally sensitive land can be identified to provide recreation space for Rotterdam and we believe the Preserve deserves protection.
        Mr. Bertsch hoped that the Town of Niskayuna would take action on this matter.
        272007_40807_0.png, expressed her concern regarding the proposed sewer extension on Consaul Road and the treatment of a small stream that goes through the property.  
She read from a communication from Dr. Carl George, Professor of Biology Emeritus, Union College, and Reist Sanctuary Management Committee member) which stated that the water drainage system surrounding Hummingbird Manor is directed southwards towards Consaul Road to an easily accessed culvert which carries the water flow under Consaul Road.  Another aging culvert, over 100’ long north of Consaul Road, also restricts drainage, but this culvert (with its northern entrance) is not easily reached for clearance of flotsam that can impede flow.  A development project on the north side of Consaul Road (on the west side of the drainage course) includes extension of the culvert rather than its removal or enlargement in diameter.  Failure to remove or enlarge the culvert may prove problematic for both Hummingbird Manor and the Reist Sanctuary because of possible blockage and collapse of the culvert that will result in flooding the upstream area to the south of Hummingbird Manor and in the western sector of the Sanctuary.  
        Correction of the problem may not be easy because of both difficult access on the northern entrance to the culvert and the great engineering difficulty of reaching a collapsed sector of the culvert, especially in the winter.  Prolonged flooding upstream of the culvert will result in the death of the forest, disruption of the trail system and biota in the western part of the Sanctuary and on Manor lands, development of a health hazard due to the presence of standing water, increasing vulnerability of the forest due to blow-down because of root incompetence, and generalized visual and ecological deterioration of the site.  Problems with such culverting are imminent and even more likely with the passage of time.   
        Dr. George suggested that Hummingbird Manor Association examine the situation toward any remedial action that they find appropriate.  

        272007_40807_0.png, expressed her displeasure at seeing a Public Hearing and Resolution for vote at the same meeting.  She hoped that the Town Board would not plan similar action in the new year.

        Jim Erceg, Vice President, Ingersoll Adult Home, and member of the Board of Trustees wished to address the Board about Extension No. 161 to Sewer District No. 6 for the Ingersoll Home on Consaul Road.  He did not attend the meeting last week for the Public Hearing because they believed that given DEC approval and the technical nature of the question involving the extension, that it would not be necessary they attend.  
The Board appreciates the consideration that has been given to Ingersoll over the past four years by members of the Town Board, Zoning Board, Planning Committee, and the full time employees of the Town.  This project originally started to add to their existing facility on Balltown Road to create two additional wings at very substantial cost that all of the Board members were very enthusiastic about and so were many government officials.  Unfortunately, the cost turned out to be prohibitive and they would not have enough cash from their endowment and would need cash from other sources.  They then considered selling their existing property and building at a new location taking the proceeds from the sale to invest in a new facility.  With the help of consultants, they discovered that what they proposed to do became very feasible.  
        The sooner Ingersoll can commence construction of a new facility, the sooner they can stop the loss of endowment that they have had to expend through negative operations that have gone on longer than ten years.  If you divide the cost of maintaining the existing facility at its current location, the staff that is required, and all other expenses divided by an average of 28 or 29 residents, financially, it turns out to be a losing proposition on an operational basis which is the conclusion their Board reached four years ago and why they considered either expanding their existing facility or the construction of a new one which would have up to 76 residents.  
The new project is essential to the future of Ingersoll and the residents that it serves.  This is about the residents and not Balltown Road or the 15 or 16 Board members of Ingersoll who are all volunteers.  It is not possible to continue to maintain the current facility.  The Board realizes that a lot of the opposition to Balltown Road and the new site is because people are opposed to what may or may not happen to that beautiful building on Balltown Road as they are all concerned.
        Ingersoll has a single mission – to maintain an adult home at affordable costs for its residents.  Delay makes it all the more difficult to keep room rates at the new facility as low as they can be.  He thanked the Board for the consideration and speed at which they have worked.  It is their intention that within the next 12 months that they will have a new facility on Consaul Road that they will all be proud of and which will exist another 80 years serving the residents whom it is intended to serve.
        Mr. Erceg stated that they would be charging significantly more than they charge at their present location.  On the other hand, they will move their current residents at essentially the same rate they are paying today.  If a resident runs out of money, they are committed to accepting whatever income they have which is part of their business plan.  They will be providing space for about 16 Alzheimer patients and the rates they are able to charge are significantly higher and it is a service they do not currently provide. To the extent they can maintain their business plan and generate the operating profit that they are projected to generate in a couple of years (which depends on how quickly they fill up), they will be able to keep rates significantly less than those that are charged at other comparable facilities.  Their rates will depend on the cost of this project, how quickly they can get it completed (they are losing money now) which is that much less money they will have from the endowment to subsidize the operating cost of the facility.   He feared what would kill this project was an inevitable escalation in interest rates.  Luckily the rates have gone down and they will pay less for debt service than they projected one year ago.  They would like to close on their bonds as quickly as they can to get the current low interest rates which will help a lot.  They also feared an escalation in material costs which has not occurred. The sooner they can get the facility up and the sooner they can move in, the sooner they can stop the losses.  They will have greater losses for the first 18 months until they get to 70% occupancy.  
        The Ingersoll Home never asked to be placed on the registry for historical places.  85 years ago, George Ingersoll’s will indicated that the Trustees should operate an adult home on not less than five areas, whose land could be purchased for $10,000 or less.  The location was not specified.  Their mission has nothing to do with preserving the building and they have maintained the facility, using George Ingersoll’s money plus others, for over 80 years and in fairly decent shape.  But it is an enormously expensive building to maintain.  He doubts anyone would care if the two additions were taken down.  They have done a lot of work on the interior as a single family home is not conducive to creating an adult home.  At one time all residents shared bathrooms and shower rooms.  Times have changed and people are less willing to live in this kind of environment.  The interiors of the rooms are very different, but a lot of the common areas have not changed.
        Councilman Chapman asked if their current mission is to still reach out to low income residents.  Mr. Erceg stated that they will have to market the way the competition markets and will have a facility that will have the same amenities as their competition.  Kingsway, The Eddy, have residents who go from senior apartment to adult home, nursing home, Alzheimer care. They can do more at the new facility then they can at their current facility, but can’t guarantee residents being taken care of for life.  Their rates will be significantly higher than they are now but it is their hope to keep them significantly lower than the competition because they don’t to make a profit and this is part of the business plan.  They will not be conducting means tests for residents (and don’t do at the present time).  If their rates were not currently lower, they wouldn’t be able to attract residents because they lack things like air conditioning.  Many of their rooms do not have individual baths, they do not have a handicapped accessible elevator; many rooms are only accessed by stairways.  There are limited services they can provide due to the limited facility itself.  The level of service they will be able to provide will be significantly better.  More and better qualified staff and more expensive programs will be offered. It is the goal of the Board to keep the rates as reasonable as they can.  They will bring existing residents over at existing rates; keep them there for the rest of their lives.
        Councilman Chapman cited a letter received from Mr. DeAngelis.  The letter stated that the Ingersoll Home conducted an exhaustive feasibility study and mentioned beneficial changes that occurred during development.  They will be funded with $9 million from IDA taxable bonds.  Payment will be guaranteed as a result of a letter of credit issued by Citizens Bank.  

        272007_40807_0.png, stated that some of the material just presented is not believable to her because she has gone over the plans that they have submitted to the Health Department and Bureau of Charities.  They have moved from a $9million to $11.5million cost for the facility and there are many questions about the subsidy for the people coming in.  A recent State Commission reported excessive beds and care at home would cost half of the cost of residing in this home.  This is not a help to the residents that are at Ingersoll or the future residents as they will all be charged at the same market cost that the other facilities will charge.  There is a financial loss for the community to have the new building and the only gainers are the developers.  A financial analysis shows that this will be subsidized by the taxpayers who subsidize every individual who is unable to pay and are in these facilities.  The increase in cost for expansion at their original site was put aside because it would cost them $6million which would have answered the same problem they have now.  At the time, the Board pointed out that the reason it would be good to stay where they were was because they wouldn’t be causing traffic problems and additional problems to the people in the area.  All the same reasons that have put up as a negative for turning the State Street into a mall were stated by Mr. Erceg several years ago, but now they forget the impact on the neighborhoods, the building and its history. She feels it no longer is a charity when it goes into a new facility.

        272007_40807_0.png, is offended at the notion that Ingersoll can just close its doors and forget the 28 residents.  She noted that the applicants were previously misinformed that they were already in a sewer extension.  They have come forward and done all the work to get a sewer extension.  She recalls a Town goal to get sewers in the entire Town, and this is a step in that direction.   The extension is in the Town’s best interest.

        James Erceg, Vice President, Ingersoll Adult Home, addressing the question of an excess of beds, stated that Ingersoll is not a nursing home.  Nursing homes cost upwards of $96,000 per year and he is not surprised that there is an excess of nursing home beds.  The inevitable result of closing nursing homes is that many people still need care and many can’t be cared for by relatives at home. Their studies show there will be a greater need than ever for Adult Home beds and that is the service they provide.  They are offended at the comment that they are no longer a charity.  They are a not-for-profit organization.  People have been on the Board for 25 or 30 years who have given enormous time and energy at no economic benefit to themselves to continue the mission of Ingersoll.  The mission will be extended and it will cost more and the facilities and services will be better.  They will do the best job that they can to continue their mission.  They could have folded their tents and left the property.  
The property will be sold to the highest bidder under a Court order. The proceeds will be distributed to other not-for-profit similar facility.  There is no assurance that the facility will be maintained at all, unless somebody can outbid the highest bidder.  They have done their job and appreciates the Board’s support.

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

Resolution 2006-284 approves the formation of Extension No. 116 to Sewer District No. 6 for 3359 Consaul Road, Ingersoll Residence).
The resolution was approved with a vote of 4 ayes, with Councilman Chapman voting no.
Councilwoman Kasper stated that after last weeks request, Mr. Pollock answered her questions in a timely manner and informed her of costs, etc.
Councilman Chapman stated he was opposed to this facility when the Board considered a Special Use Permit.  He thinks it is too intense a use for the site because the original provisions called for a minimum lot of 5 acres.  Their current 4 acres contains a ravine which limits the useable grounds.  On the Alzheimer facility on Troy Road they have an area inside so residents can walk outside in safety.  He is hopeful that their Alzheimer’s patients are not stuck inside on a permanent basis.  He hoped that they would consider taking a second look as to whether they can stay on their current site.

Resolution 2006-285 authorizes the purchase of Citrix Presentation Server Software, including 10 user licenses, and a Dell PowerEdge Server for remove access by the Town’s computer network for the Police Department and other mobile computer users.

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

                                Barbara Nottke, Deputy Town Clerk

One Niskayuna Circle, Niskayuna, NY 12309
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