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Healthy Choices for Families

Town Board Minutes 9/23/2008


        Others present: Helen Kopke, Town Clerk; Eric Dickson, Town Attorney; Frank Gavin, Super indent of Highways; Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water & Sewer; Stan Fiminski, Police Lieut; Lew Moskowitz, Chief of Police; and Kathy Matern, Town Planner.

        Councilwoman McDonnell presented participants from Hillside Elementary School with a congratulatory resolution recognizes the successful organization and implementation of the “Walking School Bus” program.
        Supervisor Landry presented a congratulatory resolution to the Niskayuna 11-
year-old players, coaches, and manager of the Cal Ripken, Jr. All Star Baseball Team to acknowledge their success and outstanding efforts in the 2008 baseball season.

        The minutes of the meetings of July 29, 2008 and August 26, 2008 were approved with corrections.

        A Public Hearing was held regarding an application for a Special Use Permit for property located at 1747 Union Street.
        Tom Andres, ABD Engineers & Surveyors, appeared representing the applicant.  The property is currently Union Gas and includes a gas station, service bay, and single automatic car wash bay.  The owner/applicant requests a permit to convert the building to a convenience store with gas station.  Currently the retail area is 10’x10’ and they would like to be able to stay competitive with neighboring retail stores.  This would be a significant improvement to the building and will eliminate the traffic stacking issues that occurred at the car wash.  They are working with the Planning Board on site improvements including sidewalks.  Based upon Institute of Traffic Engineers’ (ITE) recommendations, traffic wise it could create less traffic.  
        The gas pumps will stay at their current location.  There will be some improvements to the sign and the building will get a new façade, and the overhead doors will be removed and replaced with a glass front.  There is a retaining wall in the rear of the property with a heavy planting area.  They have planned a traffic pattern for people who are not fueling and who want to park either in front of the building or against the back side.  Customers don’t drive through, but pavement ties the area between the station and the bank.  They propose diagonal parking each way which will discourage bank customers from driving through.  Councilwoman Kasper noted that she has seen customers drive through and if no one is parked in the space, she feels customers may drive through the area.  Mr. Andres stated the applicant will work with the Planning Board to alleviate this.  All of the banks drainage comes through onto this property so they do not want to block it so they have a drainage problem on their site.  
        The traffic projections came from the Institute of Traffic Engineers’ prediction for traffic generated in the am and pm peaks for a gas station, gas station with convenience store, and car wash and a service bay.  The numbers were compared and came out relatively close.  Councilwoman Kasper expressed concern about a very tight traffic flow with drivers backing out into the road to go around the pumps while other drivers will be pulling through the area.  The area has about 55’ from the front edge of the parking spaces back to the pumps.  A normal parking space is usually 52’.  Currently there are minimally defined curb cuts and most of the front along Union Street and Van Antwerp are completely open.  They will define the curb cuts and sidewalks with landscaping.  DEC has certified all underground fuel tanks.    
        Councilwoman O’Donnell expressed discomfort in voting on this Special Use Permit the same night as the public hearing and felt that the Board was raising issues that they wished included.  Because of timing concerns, it was previously discussed that the Board would vote the same night.  Councilwoman Kasper was not happy with the resolution unless it could be amended. At the Planning Board public hearing members of the public who spoke were in favor of the project.  Supervisor Landry suggested the Board table the resolution and act on it at their next meeting.  Mr. Andres stated this will prohibit the owner from marketing the property as a convenience store and they may have to lease it as a gas station/car wash for another year.  
        There being no members of the public who wished to be heard, Supervisor Landry closed the public hearing.
        A Public Hearing was held regarding the enactment of proposed Local Law No. 8, which would establish a “Cold War” exemption for certain veterans.
        There being no members of the public who wished to be heard, Supervisor Landry closed the public hearing.

        Katherine Singh, President, Schenectady County Medical Alliance, stated that it was extremely important that the Board support the effort to go after the movie industry because children and young adults are being exposed to smoking in a glorified way.  Smoking is the leading preventative cause of death in the United States and we should begin to encourage the movie industry to change their rating system to include an R rating for movies that contain tobacco use.  They are also looking for “no payoffs” so that no cigarette companies pay the industry in supporting their film with money.  

        XXXXXX, Niskayuna High School with two senior students from Schenectady High School, appeared representing “Reality Check” and requested that the Board sign a proclamation to endorse protecting youth from harmful tobacco promotion and the glamorization of tobacco use in the movie industry.  

        XXXXXXX, XXXX Pawtucket Avenue, indicated her support for Consolidated Fire District No. 1. She requested a definition of tobacco advertisement for Resolution 2008-185 and is concerned as to how far it goes.  An exception for historical figures was not reflected in the resolution, nor is anything about movies about Colonial South with tobacco plantations and asked if this would be covered under this or would it be exempt. The resolution states “it (the Board) supports the goals of Screen Out campaign to remove tobacco advertising in youth rated movies” but there is no definition of the goals of Screen Out.  
        A representative from the American Medical Association Alliance (who requested the resolution) stated its goals are not to change the depiction of anything that is historical.  It is geared towards trying to take the glamorization of smoking out of movies that are geared towards children.  Movies that are depicting a particular era in time , a historical person in which there was a correlation with tobacco use based on the era in which the movie was shot is not their aim.  They were targeting the actors who are role models in movies that are rated G, PG, and PG-13.  There is a significant correlation between children seeing individuals smoking in movies and choosing to begin smoking themselves.  They do not wish to change anything that is historically set but to give our kids a chance and prevent them from being exposed to something that can be potentially harmful to them.  
        Councilwoman O’Donnell suggested the Board attach the goals of Screen Out to the resolution.  Councilwoman McDonnell noted that an extensive presentation had been made to the Board on the Screen Out campaign; its goals and exceptions.  From civil liberties perspective it is not to restrict movies from being made with tobacco products just to make sure that they are rated so that children are not seeing them without parental supervision. This is just requesting a rating just as violence and other content that is not appropriate for children are used in the rating system.

        Public Works Committee - Councilwoman Freund reported on the new grout and camera truck and how impressed she was with its operation.  Besides grouting, the truck enters the manholes and examines the laterals for leaks.
        We have received 6 applications for the maintenance worker position (to replace a current vacancy) and 6 for a part time Transfer Station employee.   
        Police Safety & Parks – Councilwoman Kasper reported that the date of the next Police & Safety meeting has not yet been set.
        Transportation Committee – Councilwoman O’Donnell noted that the four-day, 10 hour per day work week trial for September (with hours 6 a.m. to 4:30 Monday through Thursday) so far shows a savings for fuel.  We could see a possible savings of 10-15% in our fuel budget if we kept this schedule April through October.  The schedule has also made it possible to complete some projects within one day such as patching, and full zone yard waste pickup.  Employees are receiving it well and they will meet in early October to receive feedback about the program.  Based on how this goes, the Board might wish to consider this work week concept for other areas of the Town.  
        They are working on on-line applications for service requests.  This is a free web based option for residents to be able to ask questions and report issues.  Frank Gavin and Bill Lawrence are developing the format and fields to use.  It is something we can use in other areas of the Town to give residents the opportunity to ask questions or raise issues by going on-line any time of day.  We need to decide who will gather the questions and respond to them.  It’s a great start to communicating with residents via the web and there will be more discussion to come.
        Councilwoman O’Donnell provided all Board members with yard waste survey results and the revenue options that they have compiled.  This was brought up at Finance Committee in July and she would like to revisit the issue in October.  She would like to make a presentation on what the Town is currently doing, some of the options for residents, and also receive comments from residents.  We heard feedback from residents when we explored changing from cans to bags and we understood that this wouldn’t work for some people.  If we consider a revenue option (perhaps charging for the service) we would have to schedule a public hearing.  The current cost for yard waste pickup is in the range of $330,000 per year and an additional $150,000 for the lose leaf pickup.  Tied brush is less than 5% of what they pick up.
        They are looking at their 2009 budget and are looking at what level of service our residents want us to supply and what they are willing to pay for it.  They are used to excellent, speedy services.  They will be looking at plowing, salting, road maintenance and reconstruction, yard waste and leaf pickup and what they can do to cut costs.  They also want to talk about the non-represented employees who only got 2% raise in 2008 and what we are going to do with them in the 2009 budget.  Their next meeting is tentatively scheduled for October 10.
        Education & Recreation Committee – Councilwoman McDonnell stated that fall soccer has had two Saturday’s of play that have gone very well, with well over 700 participants.  Everybody who wanted to play was able to be placed on a team.  The fall brochure should come out tomorrow, all programs will be set up for on-line registration system and paper registration will also be taken.  All information will be put into the system so we can track roster lists, programs, generate financial data and revenues collected.  
        The Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition who encouraged sports clubs to join in the smoke-free initiative and sign a pledge to not accept money, sponsorships, or support of any kind from tobacco companies or their parent corporations.
        Next meeting is Wednesday, October 1, 7 p.m.
        Economic Development Historic Preservation & Environmental Conservation Committee meeting will Thursday, October 9 at 4:30p.m
        Finance & General Government will meet on October 15 at 6 p.m.

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

        Resolution 2008-180 approves Local Law No. 2008-7, for a Fair Housing Law.

        Resolution 2008-181 supports the efforts of Consolidated Fire District No. 1 in its pursuit of State legislation to allow the charging of user fees for life support ambulance service.

        Resolution 2008-182 authorizes the execution of an outside sewer user agreement for Wayne Pinkerton, owner of 46 South Amherst Road in Consolidated Sewer District No. 1.

        Resolution 2008-183 authorizes the execution of an outside sewer user agreement for Brian Lupion, owner of 805 Westmoreland Drive in Consolidated Sewer District No. 1.  

        Resolution 2008-184 supports the goals of the “Screen Out” campaign to remove tobacco advertising from youth-rated movies.

        Resolution 2008-185 appoints Margeaux L. Cusano, to the position of Payroll Clerk, on a permanent basis, subject to a probationary period, at a salary of $34,545, effective immediately.

        Resolution 2008-186 recognizes the successful organization and implementation of the “Walking School Bus” program at Hillside Elementary School.

        Resolution 2008-187 acknowledges the success of the Niskayuna 11 year old players, coaches, and manager of the Cal Ripken, Jr. All Star Baseball Team for their outstanding efforts in the 2008 baseball season.

        Resolution 2008-188 recognizes Brian Alyward for his many years of exemplary service as Principal of Rosendale Elementary School and wishes him a long and happy retirement.

        Resolution 2008-189 thanks Gary Brown, Niskayuna Police Sergeant, for his years of service and dedication to the Town and its residents, and wishes him many years of success and happiness during his retirement.

        At this time, Supervisor Landry requested that the Board go into executive session to discuss a pending legal action which was unanimously approved by the Board.

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

                                Helen Kopke, Town Clerk

One Niskayuna Circle, Niskayuna, NY 12309
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