AT THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 27TH DAY OF APRIL 2010, AT THE NISKAYUNA TOWN BOARD ROOM, ONE NISKAYUNA CIRCLE, NISKAYUNA, NEW YORK, THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS WERE PRESENT;
Jonathan McKinney, Councilman
Denise Murphy McGraw
Liz Orzel Kasper, Councilwoman
Julie McDonnell, Councilwoman
Joe Landry, Supervisor
Others present: Barbara Nottke, Deputy Town Clerk; Paul Briggs, Deputy Town Attorney; Kathy Matern, Town Planner; Frank Gavin, Superintendent of Highways; John Lubrant, Chief of Police; and Paul Sebesta, Comptroller.
Councilwoman McGraw acknowledged the recent donation from the Niskayuna Women’s Tennis Association for their gift of squeegees for the tennis courts which will clear off and dry the tennis courts after a rain. This will allow more court time for residents.
Voting Machines – Brian Quail and Art Brassard, Election Commissioners from the Schenectady County Board of Elections, presented the new electronic voting machines which will be used at the upcoming school budget vote in May. They were also used in the recent Fire House elected with a positive response from the voters. Each machine costs about $7,500 and they have plenty of spares to get them through election day. Costs were covered by federal funds under the Help America Vote Act. They have 2 hour battery backup in case of power failures. The actual time to audit election results (especially the first time) may take longer but should be more accurate. Interested residents can learn more from www.voteschenectady.com.
Post office – Mr. Joe Mulvey, Real Estate Specialist, U. S. Postal Service, 2 Congress Street, Room 8, Milford, MA and Ms. Mary Madonna, Post Master of the Jay Street, Schenectady Post Office appeared to speak about future postal service in Niskayuna.
They are evaluating their facilities as part of a national effort. Advances in mail processing technology, alternate access, declining mail volumes and route consolidations have all contributed to a number of under-utilized properties. The needs of the postal service today call for them to look at all possible avenues to reduce costs, consolidate operations, and increase efficiency.
They believe they have an opportunity to sell the post office property, relocate their carriers to vacant space in the Schenectady main post office, and to right-size their retail operation in Niskayuna. The replacement post office would comprise 2,000 SF and would offer all postal services and post office box delivery that the present post office offers. They expect mail that is requested by residents be held will continue to be held at the new Niskayuna location. The current Niskayuna building is 11,000 SF with 1.5 acres and an asking price of $1.1 million. The current building will remain continually occupied since they will not move out until they have a buyer. If the building does not sell, they will not go forward with a move.
No location has been identified but their goal is to keep the post office in the same general vicinity as the present location in Niskayuna. If possible, they would like to rent space in the building from the future owner. Councilwoman McDonnell requested that they also consider St. James Square.
The sale of the property will drive the total project. When they have a buyer they will then advertise for replacement space. The sale of the property will likely put it back on the tax roles as it is now exempt from property taxes. They will keep the Board informed through the Supervisor as things develop.
They plan to work in partnership with the community and the owner of the property. Where they rent will have to comply with any parking requirements and will get input from Town officials about their new location. Because they would not be the owner, their rental property would not be tax exempt. The buyer of the sold property will have to comply with the Town’s zoning regulations.
Supervisor Landry announced that three new police vehicles had arrived which have a new logo and emblem. The Chief of Police solicited suggestions from officers for the new logo and emblem and one was selected for the new cars.
Patrolman Doug Anderson
Supervisor Landry also announced that Patrolman Doug Anderson who has been a patrolman since August 1993 and also serves in the U. S. Air Force Reserves as a Master Sergeant in the Air Transport Section will leave May 6th to go to Iraq (north of Bagdad) for six months. He has served in Saudi Arabia and also served during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He is currently assigned to the 42nd Arial Port Squadron which is located in Westover Massachusetts. Supervisor Landry thanked Master Sergeant Anderson for volunteering to be in the reserves and wished him a safe deployment in Iraq. We look forward to his return in six months.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
XXXXX Fairlawn Parkway, inquired about the payment of water bills and a January resolution about paying for partial bills. She presumed that the resolution allowed residents to pay their water bills over a few months without penalty. Councilwoman McGraw replied that this cycle of water bills are actually from last summer’s usage which are traditionally higher for most people.
Supervisor Landry clarified the issue by stating that previously we were not allowed to accept payments that were not exactly as was billed and would return checks that were not exact amounts. A January resolution authorized the Town to accept a partial payment if residents payment does not exactly match their bill.
XXXXX Brookshire Drive, noted she could not hear the presentation from the Board of Elections and requested that everyone use a microphone. She inquired about a sign in the Hollywood Video space next to CVS.
XXXXX Keyes Avenue, announced that this Saturday and Sunday the Section II Rowing and Crew Championship will be held in Niskayuna at the Mohawk River. She invited the members of the Town Board and will make arrangements for the Board to hop in a launch and ride along with the racers and cheer on the Niskayuna teams. This event brings 1,000 kids and their families to the Town for the weekend.
XXXXX Keyes Avenue, noted that there was no evidence from the presentation from the post office that our community is not being adequately served by the present location of the post office. They want to relocate for their benefit not for the Town’s.
Economic Development: Councilmen McKinney reported that CVS is close to finalizing their plans; Bellevue Hospital is moving forward and they are seeing activity at Stanford Crossings signing up different businesses. The Extra Mart on Rt. 7 and Vly Road is moving along.
Senior Committee: They have been working on projects such as creating things for the troops and putting together a cookbook that they will sell.
Education, Parks & Recreation Committee: Councilwoman McDonnell reported they have finalized two grant applications from the Niskayuna Community Foundation for a disk golf course as well as for a 5K Fun Run in the fall. The summer program brochure is available on line, has been distributed to the schools, and registration has begun. Pool and swimming instruction information is also available and spring soccer started this week.
Tonight they are asking for approval for lifeguards and are finalizing their list for the summer camp staff and they are also working with the Niska-Day Committee. She thanked the Niskayuna Women’s Tennis for their generous donation. Next meeting is May 5 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.
Public Works Committee: Councilwoman McGraw noted they are continuing to address the roll out of the electronic water meters. It is their hope that this will alleviate water bill surprises. Commercial water meters have been installed and we are currently installing residential meters. They have developed a payment plan for residents with bills more than $500 for residents who have estimated their water usage in the past and will now get an accurate bill.
They have received almost $90,000 in grants primarily through NYSERTA to help with the development of energy projects.
Transportation Committee: Park crews are out and the tennis courts will be clean by the end of the week. Street sweeping is well underway and almost complete. Highway crew members discovered two bald eagles behind Blatnick Park which was recently reported by the Niskayuna Spotlight.
Police & Safety Committee: Councilwoman Kasper reported that the best place to see the eagles nest is by parking at the Lock 7 parking lot, walking up to the yellow pole looking up on the hill. She shared her experience with the initiation of crew and reported she is offering a resolution tonight for our animal shelter and encouraged the use of tags to identify dogs.
The following resolutions were approved with a vote of five ayes unless otherwise indicated.
Resolution 2010-98 authorizes a contract for the public display of fireworks at Niska-Day in the amount of $7,000.
Resolution 2010-99 accepts a proposal from Hodgson Russ LLP to serve as Bond Counsel to the Town not to exceed $4,300.
Resolution 2010-100 authorizes the purchase of advertising for bids for one 2010 Ford Focus from Warnock Fleet for the Building Department Building Inspectors at a total cost not to exceed $13,000.
Resolution 2010-101 calls for a Public Hearing May 25, 2010 at 7 p.m. regarding the Section 8 Housing Assistance Program.
Resolution 2010-102 authorizes the sale through public auction of certain vehicles and equipment listed from the Highway, Police, Comptroller, and Water & Sewer Departments.
Resolution 2010-103 authorizes the Supervisor to execute a contract with the Animal Protective Foundation of Schenectady in the amount of $8,000 for the impounding and care of dogs commencing January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010.
Resolution 2010-104 calls for a Public Hearing May 25, 2010 at 7 p.m. to consider amendment of the Zoning Ordinance to permit child daycare centers in mixed use buildings.
Councilman McKinney noted that we are trying to relax the zoning laws so daycare can have offices and centers in places with shared parking lots which has not been allowed up until now. Councilwoman McDonnell added that one of the reasons this was initiated was that a day care had approached the Town about the use of a St. James Square location.
Resolution 2010-105 calls for a Public Hearing May 25, 2010 at 7 p.m. to consider amendment of the Town Code regarding building permit fees.
The Code amendment will allow the Town to change the fees periodically by resolution which is a quicker process.
Resolution 2010-106 appoints Lori Peretti to the position of Coordinator of Community Programs on a permanent basis at an annual salary of $47,575.
Councilwoman McDonnell stated that Lori has passed her civil service examination and she has done a fantastic job over the past years. She is here many nights and weekends running many programs and events and she is extremely hands on. We have gotten nothing but positive feedback praising the way she deals with residents as well as the improvements that have been to the recreation program with the online registration system, communication, as well as all the new programs that we have brought in. We have added a lot of new options to the summer camp programs through her communication with various coaches throughout the Town.
Councilwoman McGraw has had a number of interactions with Lori and she has been terrific and helpful. She has improved the service delivery of the swim team immensely and has helped the swim team families by helping them get a web site launched, on-line registration, and has brought the team into the 21st century. She has been a wonderful advocate for the 100 families who participate in that program. Recreation programs may be one of the first points of entry into Town services and her services have been a wonderful addition to the team.
Supervisor Landry thanked Lori for everything she has done and continues to do. She is willing to do whatever it takes and is doing a great job.
Resolution 2010-107 authorizes the purchase of a cab and chassis by the Highway Department.
Resolution 2010-108 authorizes the Supervisor to enter into agreements for water payment plans.
Councilwoman McGraw thanked Paul Briggs for all his work to make this possible. There has been a lot of discussion and work in this area and he has been very helpful to the committee.
Councilwoman McDonnell was informed that once we replace all the water meters we will get actual reads and there are residents who haven’t read their meters in quite a while. At replacement they will get an actual read and there is a possibility the bill may be much higher than they expect. Their bills have been estimated at their old usage and may not have anticipated additional usage.
Supervisor Landry anticipates this may only be needed the next 6 to 12 months or the first time the meter is read after the installations. It will be available and authorizes us to enter into a payment plan. The new software will probably be able to flag those with higher costs so we will probably reach out to them before they get their bill.
Resolution 2010-109 amends the fees for use of the Town’s Recreational Center at Aqueduct Road.
Councilwoman McDonnell noted that the current rate is fairly high ($150 minimum for 3 hours) for not-for-profit groups that operate within the Town. This resolution brings it to a more affordable level of $50 for 3 hours. We will still retain the $200 security deposit. The fee covers the Town cost for staffing the Center as well as some costs for electricity.
Supervisor Landry stated that this is a great opportunity to encourage the use of the Recreational Center by other community groups.
Resolution 2010-110 appoints persons to positions within the Recreation Program as listed.
Resolution 2010-111 thanks Faye Gervasio, Water Billing Clerk for the Water & Sewer Department, who is retiring on April 29, 2010, for her many years of dedicated service to the Town.
Resolution 2010-112 acknowledges the donation of “squeegies” from the Niskayuna Women’s Tennis Association.
At this time, Supervisor Landry made a motion for the Board to go into Executive Session to discuss a Highway Department employee disciplinary matter. The motion was unanimously approved by the Board.
There being no further business to come before the Town Board, Supervisor Landry adjourned the meeting.
Barbara Nottke, Deputy Town Clerk