AT A REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 29TH DAY OF JULY, 2008, AT THE NISKAYUNA TOWN BOARD ROOM, ONE NISKAYUNA CIRCLE, NISKAYUNA, NEW YORK, THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS WERE PRESENT:
JULIE McDONNELL, COUNCILWOMAN
DIANE P. O’DONNELL, COUNCILWOMAN
LIZ ORZEL KASPER, COUNCILWOMAN
JOE LANDRY, SUPERVISOR
MARIE P. FREUND, COUNCILWOMAN, absent
Others present: Helen Kopke, Town Clerk; Paul Sebesta, Comptroller; Lew Moskowitz, Chief of Police; Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Public Works; Frank Gavin Superintendent of Highways; Frank Cannizzo, Assistant Director of Recreation, Kathleen Gansfuss, Director of Recreation; Sue Leonard, Senior Coordinator.
Supervisor Landry presented a resolution in celebration of National Clown Week
Supervisor Landry presented a resolution to Anne LaRoche upon receiving the 2008 Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce “Woman of Excellence” Award in Management.
Cheryl Stier, co-chair Health Promotions for New York State American Medical Association Alliance, presented the “Screen-Out” Campaign to remove smoking from youth rated movies. The campaign tries to get Hollywood to be responsible about smoking and to certify to “no pay-offs” and is targeting Disney, Time Warner and Sony.
They are asking the major motion picture companies to remove smoking from movies that are geared towards children and would like “no pay-off” language to be included in the movie credits. She has asked the Town to join with national organizations such as the AMA, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and others in endorsing the program.
They would like strong anti-smoking ads to be run before movies are presented and to be put as headers on DVDs so that children and teens can become involved consumers and are aware of the negative impact of smoking and stop identifying tobacco brands in movies. They would like movies with smoking rated R which will cut down on the movies children can see and cut exposure. They would also like to get smoking out of the G, PG and PG-13 rated movies which would decrease exposure by 55%.
Public Hearing No. 1 – considers a proposed Operating Plan for the Section 8 Housing Assistance Program.
James Mastriani, representing Joseph E. Mastriani, Inc., administers the Section 8 housing programs for the Capital District. This public hearing allows for comment on their agency plan which contains their discretionary policies and procedures. He gave a brief description of the program and distributed a fact sheet to the Board. They have worked with the Town since 1985 with funding of $250,000 which assist up to 46 families. They have 48 currently on their waiting list with a wait time of about 3 or 4 months.
When no members of the public wished to heard, Supervisor Landry closed the Public Hearing.
Public Hearing No. 2 – considers the adoption of Local Law No. 6 which would set a 20mph speed limit on portions of Cornelius Avenue, Nicholas Avenue, and Plum Street in the vicinity of Hillside School.
XXXXX Cornelius Avenue, spoke in support of extending the school zone on Cornelius and Nicholas Avenue. A petition had been submitted to the Board last October signed by all residents of Cornelius Avenue expressing their concerns about safety on the street. Traffic has increased because of the number of personnel working at Hillside School and special buses from outside the district come in for special programs in additional to the Niskayuna buses. This has also become a well known cut through for rush hour traffic. Expanding the school zone is a great first step but they really want a side walk because Cornelius is a by-way to Hillside, Van Antwerp and to St. Helen’s schools.
Many parents are driving their kids to school which has increased traffic. Hillside will soon have a bus loop that will separate bus traffic from cars. They are also planning to redo the walking entryway to the school and put in a cross walk. This will only be truly effective if there is a sidewalk. Right now children who live 300 yards from the school are being driven to school because of the danger. Hillside School initiated the “Walking School Bus” program whose goal is to get kids walking to school on safe routes. The Times Union published an article about the event and over 20% of the students participated.
The speed zone will be good first step especially if it is enforced. Residents have no preference as to which side of the street a sidewalk is constructed.
XXXXX Cornelius Avenue (4 houses from Hillside), has not allowed his children to walk to school due to the danger. He is in favor of a sidewalk and the 20mph speed limit and requested this speed limit at all hours, not just school hours. He also requested a stop sign on the corner of Cornelius and Plum which currently has a Yield sign, and a speed hump to try and slow down traffic. A Yield sign on Cornelius towards Hillside School before the turn on Plum would also slow down traffic and he invited Board members to view the morning traffic from his home.
XXXXX Cornelius Avenue, noted that over the past four years bus traffic has come in from the Helderberg Mountains from Ravena. He was told there is a contractual agreement for a special program involving hundreds of children. He has counted 16 buses in addition to the Niskayuna buses. Because they are so short, there is no speed problem on Nicholas Avenue and Plum Street. Cornelius Avenue is a straight run where cars can pick up speed.
XXXXX Cornelius Avenue (between Union and Ray Street) has a sidewalk but her children cannot play in front because traffic speeds are so high. She feels all of Cornelius Avenue should be 20 mph to improve safety.
XXXXX Nicholas Avenue, feels that Cornelius and Nicholas should periodically have speed limit enforcement. Also, although Hillside is posted for one-way traffic, some drivers enter the parking areas the wrong way.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
XXXXX Fairlawn Parkway, feels that towns will have to face difficult fiscal decisions and budget preparations should begin today. She urged the Board to start thinking about future budgets and putting together a long-range fiscal plan of at least two or three years.
XXXXX Rowe Road, outlined the events of June 22 when heavy rains caused his basement to flood causing a $15,000 personal loss for which he is uninsured. He feels there is nothing he can do to solve the problem and only the Town can solve the problem.
His house was uninhabitable for four days due to the incident and he requested
1) that the culvert inlet grating underneath Rosehill Boulevard be replaced immediately;
2) the Town produce a schedule of definitive action to solve the drainage problem; 3) plan regularly scheduled status meetings with key stakeholders; 4) enact a moratorium on any new residential construction within the watershed until the problem is resolved; 5) produce a validated storm water flow model as proof that the Town’s actions will solve the problem;
6) the Town reimburses them for out-of-pocket expenses and losses caused by the flood and any floods that may occur between now and when the problem is fixed.
XXXXX Rowe Road, also received water damage from the June 22 storm with 2-3” of water in her basement. Five years ago was the first time she experienced flooding and she expressed dismay at the lack of professionalism in the way the Town is attacking the problem. She has emptied debris from the culvert often and submitted a picture of a “catch screen” which had been installed by the Town show debris that was able to pass the screen. In years past, the Town cleaned out the culvert weekly, and she would like the Town to continue this practice to help spare her yard from flooding.
She cautioned the Town that once vacant land is developed on the dead end street across from her house; her front yard may be in jeopardy of flooding. She asked if the Board had looked outside for professional help to deal with this problem and suggested they get a second opinion about resolving it.
Mike Dixson, Labor Relations Specialist for CSEA spoke on behalf of the 25 Water & Sewer Department workers represented by the CSEA many of whom were present. The agreement reached between the Town and the union was ratified nearly two months ago and yet the new agreement has yet to be memorialized with the new collective bargaining agreement despite the fact that the Town has had more than six weeks to review a draft given to them by the CSEA. As a result, the members have yet to receive any of the financial compensation that the parties agreed to. They asked that the Board do all they can to make the signing of the new agreement a priority.
XXXXX Oregon Avenue, noted that a year ago they appeared before the Board with a traffic problem on Oregon Avenue. The problem has gotten worse and traffic flows have been monitored at 580 cars on an average day traveling an average speed of 36mph. They requested a reduced speed limit and more enforcement. During the Route 7 construction last year, New York State used Oregon Avenue as a detour which has promoted use of the road since the construction ended. The Town Board, however, was not involved in the choices of State road detours. The Police Committee and Highway Committee will discuss getting weight limit restrictions which may help.
Supervisor Landry stated that the Town-wide speed limit is 30 mph and they don’t have the ability to lower the limit but the Town can help from an enforcement standpoint. He suggested that it may be time for an updated traffic study also.
XXXXX Berkeley Avenue, was informed that the Grange is still owned by the Town. The Town has applied for registry as a historic building for the train station and we are looking at putting in an application for the Grange. Councilwoman O’Donnell stated we are looking at options as to future use. We have an interest in maintaining the building and giving it a use in the Town. It is unsure if Environmental Clearing House will be using the building. He believes the building should be refurnished as a historic site and put a small school behind it (such as Montesorri) and tie it in with the nature preserve.
When no other members of the public wished to be heard, Supervisor Landry closed Privilege of the Floor.
Police & Safety Committee: Councilwoman Kasper reported that the committee will be reviewing the Oregon Avenue & Hillside Avenue traffic issues. Their meeting was scheduled for Friday, August 7 at 9:30 a.m. but may moved to Monday, August 11.
Parks & Senior Committee: will meet on August 11 at 10 a.m. and they are waiting for the Becker Street Park equipment which has been ordered.
Transportation Committee: Councilwoman O’Donnell reported that they are discussing the challenges of suppliers and contractors who are willing to forfeit their bid bonds and may not honor their contract due to increasing prices. It may delay some curb projects and we will be reviewing our paving plans for the future.
They will also talk about the sidewalks on Hillside and issues on Oregon Avenue. They continue to discuss raises for the non-represented employees to bring them up to 3% annually for 2008. Next meeting, Thursday, August 7 at 7:30 a.m. and they will also be talking about the results of the yard waste pickup survey (cans versus bags).
Recreation & Education: Councilwoman McDonnell reported that they are working on the summer playground programs and other summer programs. Their next meeting will be planning for fall programming for August 5, 7 p.m. at the Recreation Center. She congratulated the Safe Routes Committee and Hillside School on being a national case study for the Safe Routes to School program.
Public Works Committee: will meet on Wednesday, July 30 at 7:30 a.m.
Economic Development/Historic Preservation/Environmental Conservation Committee will meet on Thursday, August 7 at 4:30.
Finance Committee: will meet on Monday, August 11 at 6 p.m.
Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Public Works informed the Board about changes in the plans for the development of new wells in the well field. The project was put out to bid with an option of doing a naturally developed well versus gravel packed wells (which has been used in the past). Recent information suggests that in the long run it is better to use naturally developed wells because it gives better probability of redeveloping the well in the future than with gravel pack well. One of four wells will be gravel pack; three are suitable to naturally developed wells. It is better in the long run to have a larger diameter well because the larger the diameter the more surface area to filter in through the well screen. One of the problems that cause wells to plug
up is if the velocity is too high which tends to draw in more fine materials and promotes clogging. He proposes to increase the size of the casing to 12” which will increase the net total cost of the project by $548. He requested a resolution which would include a retroactive change order approval from the Board.
On a second matter, over the weekend, while not a catastrophic emergency, valves at the water plant did not fully close and need to be replaced. The water plant has four filters (one of which has been replaced). It has come to light that two of the remaining valves also have some issues which would cost approximately $5,200 to repair. With Board verbal approval tonight he will order the replacement valves which will take about one week to arrive. They can be installed by the end of next week and the Board will have a retroactive resolution.
The following resolutions were approved with a vote of four ayes (Councilwoman Freund was absent) unless otherwise noted:
Resolution 2008-145, calls for a public hearing August 26, 2008 to consider amendment to the Code with regard to the Town’s Fair Housing Practices.
Resolution 2008-146 issues a Negative Declaration for the replacement of 5,000 linear feet of water pipe and authorizes in the area of Lishakill Road, Niskayuna Road, Old River Road and Rosendale Road.
Resolution 2008-147 authorizes advertising for bids for the 5,000 linear feet of water pipe along a portion of Lishakill Road, Niskayuna Road, Old River Road, and a portion of Rosendale Road.
Resolution 2008-148 obtains easements for the construction, maintenance, and repair of all water lines and other appurtenances proposed to be constructed within Consolidated Water District No. 1 by the exercise of eminent domain.
Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water & Sewer explained that there were some slight issues with easements. Most of the residents agreed to an easement; some did not which means the Town may need to use eminent domain. Some residents were favorable but had a change of heart so to move the project forward it seems this is the only way. Directional drilling under Lishakill Road will be a conventional open cut installed pipe. The County didn’t want the water main installed in the middle of Lishakill Road they wanted it off to the side so we are trying to get the easements. Lishakill Road contained most of the controversy.
. The Town cannot open cut across Troy Road. On the north side of Troy Road our contractor will dig a pit and drill 10-15’ deep underneath the road and will be replacing pipe near Warner Road. There is 500’ of old 6” pipe which can cause water breaks and a water hammer effect. This provides the first leg of the replacement of Lishakill pipe. They would not be taking the 6” line out of service initially. They will put the 12” in, connect it, but the issue is some people do not want to have their front yards dug up and don’t want to connect to services. They can stay connected to the old pipe and we can have both connected. In the long run that pipe can be eliminated.
The discoloration problem on Winnie Road that the Board has heard about recently is located on the opposite side of Troy Road and is a different project. The issue is a one block dead end pipe. When the water enters it sits for extended periods of time and the water has the opportunity to sit in contact with the pipe creating issues with iron manganese.
The project requires us to obtain an additional width to our easement which connects the end of Winnie Road to Adams (a stub street). Our 50’ wide easement is not wide enough. The Town attorney is security resident approval of an extended easement. Once we have this in writing the project can begin. We have taken some actions that have improved conditions.
Regarding the Rowe Road residents, Mr. Pollock stated that there is an existing engineering study that will be reviewed which included additional detention which is one part of the solution. Another solution is pipe capacity. There are things homeowners whose homes are in low areas can do. In the case tonight, as he understands it (he could be mistaken) a former owner of the house excavated out the back wall on the house. The original plans for the house had a filled in back yard with dirt up against the foundation. There was no walk out basement and no windows. When they excavated and did it in an area that is certainly is a flood plane of a stream (although not in an official flood plane), then one of the consequences is when the stream floods the water
will go into the house. If a property has a history of flooding and they have a walk out basement perhaps they should fill in the bottom four feet and have a Bilco door and not have a basement that is prone to have flooding every two or three years. He is not saying the Town does not have any role, but this may be part of the solution. It is his opinion that there is both a public and private role involved in solving the problem.
Councilwoman McDonnell asked that the Town to come up with some definite steps. They can’t buy insurance and the financial impact of this issue is severe. Councilwoman O’Donnell thought it was important that we look at both sides. The Town took action five years ago and those actions were successful.
Resolution 2008-149 makes appointments for the Recreation Program. Councilwoman McDonnell explained that there will be three new employees working at the playground camps because they are at capacity and we also have the new pre-K program. There are four Recreation specialists who will be substitute bus drivers and it appoints a permanent bus driver Three employees are given wage increases to comply with the new minimum wage requirements.
Resolution 2008-150 authorizes the purchase of Novell Netware software, at a total cost not to exceed $4,100.
Resolution 2008-151 modifies the Purchasing Policy for 2008 and corrects an error in the prior policy. The Chief of Police will now be authorized a $3,000 limit for the purchase of Commodities in conformance with that of the Superintendent of Highways & Superintendent of Water & Sewer. Also, the repair of equipment is raised from $1,000 to $3,000. Training and Conferences is now raised to $1,000 with approval of the Department Head and Town Supervisor. Over $1,000 must be approved by the appropriate committee and Town Board.
Resolution 2008-152 authorizes the Comptroller to make transfers of funds in the 2008 budget. Most of the modifications reflect the recent PBA contract and it also reflect the purchase of park equipment for the Becker Street Park.
Resolution 2008-153 authorizes the purchase of a dump body and plow equipment for a total cost not to exceed $65,000 and the purchase of two 4x4 dump trucks, at a total cost not to exceed $60,500 for the Highway Department.
Resolution 2008-154 appoints Lori Peretti to the position of Project Aide, for no more than seventeen hours per week, at a rate of $25.00 per hour, without benefits, effective July 30, 2008.
The resolution was approved with a vote of three ayes (Councilwoman O’Donnell voting no). Councilwoman O’Donnell explained that she was concerned about the process, the urgency, and the expenditure. The $25 per hour rate of pay is high, this is not an essential position and in these times when we are struggling with hiring police officers, giving raises to our existing employees, and coping with increasing paving costs we just can’t afford this $10,000 per year expenditure and she votes no.
Supervisor Landry explained that this is a non-competitive position, she will report directly to the Supervisor and work on special projects for the Supervisor (for example serving as a liaison with organizations serving youth in Niskayuna; work with certain departments for on-line registration, information, and other data needed). Other things they are looking at are information that we need to input into a database dealing with youth programs whether Town information or other organization’s or community centers. There will be other projects in the future such as finding an alternative to the DARE race that won’t be happening this year. He sees this as a service to the residents as somebody that can provide updating the web site, putting together databases, compiling information and making it
available to the residents. He sees this as a full service position where we can get somebody in that has that expertise and can put information like that together.
Councilwoman O’Donnell was informed that this is not a budgeted position and funds will be taken from the contingency fund to pay for this position. Supervisor Landry stated we need this position to help with projects during the year and initiatives that he would like to have done. The urgency of the position is that he would like to work with people he has confidence in that can accomplish these things. In response to an inquiry to allocating resources from other parts of the Town to be able to perform these he felt there was no one within Town Hall now that he would use to accomplish this.
Councilwoman McDonnell noted that as far as the financial impact, during the budget process, we had talked about looking carefully at the budget and looking at the different functions and possibly during some restructuring to achieve savings which would not only go into next year but would also would offset this year’s expenditure. We became aware of a Niskayuna resident who was looking for employment who has 20 plus years administrative experience as an accounting* manager and also has many years experience in volunteering with youth sports. Time is of the essence, she is a resident, was available, and during the budget process we would be looking much more closely at how we might want to move forward with this position.
Councilwoman O’Donnell noted that this is a much higher rate of pay than most of our support staff receives and annualized it amounts to between $45,000 and $55,000 per year (right now this is only for seventeen hours). What she believes is the job description was very vague and talked about clerical duties and noted no minimum requirements. She is concerned about the rate of pay.
Councilwoman Kasper recalled data input performed by various departments by various interns and stated her trust in the Supervisor’s judgment that we need this position. if it’s only seventeen hours per week.
Supervisor Landry stated that through various budget amendments we will provide for this in future budgets. As a non-competitive position there is no probation period. She will be working out of the attorney’s office
Councilwoman McDonnell further explained that this position can accomplish the expanded responsibilities of getting information out to residents whether that means putting it out on the web page or compiling information. She understood that this is an existing civil service position. Moving forward into the budget we will look more closely at what the responsibilities of this position will be outlining those and going through a civil service process if we choose to move forward. The position is non-competitive and there is no list we must hire from. One person was interviewed for the position.
Resolution 2008-155 proclaims August 1st to August 8th as National Clown Week.
Resolution 2008-156 congratulates Anne Larches on receiving the 2008 Women of Excellence Award in Management from the Albany.
There being no further business to come before the Town Board, Supervisor Landry adjourned the meeting.
Helen Kopke, Town Clerk
*corrected from original minutes from “county” to correct word “accounting.”