AT A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 15TH DAY OF JULY, 2010 AT THE NISKAYUNA OFFICE BUILDING, ONE NISKAYUNA CIRCLE, THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS WERE PRESENT:
Jonathan McKinney, Councilman
Denise Murphy McGraw, Councilwoman
Liz Orzel Kasper, Councilwoman
Julie McDonnell, Councilwoman
Joe Landry, Supervisor
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
XXXXX Brookshire Drive, requested that the agenda be placed on the web site before 5 p.m. on the day of meetings and she discussed the administration’s use of Special meetings.
She suggested that Councilwoman McDonnell and McGraw recuse themselves regarding ice cream trucks because they have direct responsibility for their children in preparing the petition. She hopes there is a public hearing on the issue and feels the Board is stirring up a hornet’s nest.
The following resolutions were approved with a vote of five ayes unless otherwise noted.
Resolution 2010-164 employs additional persons in the Recreation Program.
Resolution 2010-165 authorizes the Supervisor to sign a grant application.
Resolution 2010-166 schedules a public hearing for July 27 at 7 p.m. to consider adding a Chapter to the Town Code regarding the sale of frozen desserts by vendors.
Councilwoman Kasper said she has mixed feelings about this issue and she has not heard positive comments from residents as yet. The streets of Niskayuna are not always safe for trucks.
She thought the presentation by the Rosendale students was excellent and is glad to hear everyone is concerned about safety. She has not wanted ice cream trucks because if drivers were required to stop they would never get through streets like Palmer Avenue. There is no room for trucks to pull over. She was informed that the Town has a right to restrict this to certain streets.
Councilwoman McDonnell remarked that her son appeared before the Board and signed the petition. It was initiated by a girl in his class and he wanted to be a part of the process partially because she is on the Town Board and because it was an educational experience for him. She shares many of the concerns that people have. So far she has heard nothing but positive comments from residents with lots of emails and phone calls. She expected to hear more negative feedback and expects we will. She has concerns about safety and has a family member that was struck by a car.
This issue came about because over the years the Supervisor has gotten numerous letters on the topic. This time kids got a petition. It deserves to be revisited because it has been a long time and a lot of things have changed. Trucks have changed and to her knowledge there have not been any tragedies in recent years. She thinks it is worth revisiting especially since so many people seem to want to revisit it. She does not take safety concerns or the tragedies that happened in the past lightly. It has been 35 years since the incident and it’s time we look at it again.
We have the ability to include safety restrictions and there is a whole chapter in State law that deals with safety for the trucks. There are vending groups that have a safety initiative and we have a licensing procedure that allows us to add even further requirements. This isn’t a public hearing to permanently allow ice cream trucks; it would allow a temporary trial period to see if this is something that we feel comfortable with and if the trucks are driving safely, or if the noise is a nuisance. We should go carefully, shouldn’t rush to repeal the current restrictions, and should hear from the public.
Councilman McKinney stated that he also has serious concerns. He researched the issue and there is a national body of ice cream vendors who have been working to put in legislation addressing noise, background checks, and safety issues. He questioned if the things that caused the deaths been addressed. Kids are not looking when they are running to and away from the truck. If we aren’t able to have cars stop similar to school buses then he doesn’t think the safety concerns have been addressed. He would like to stop or slow down drivers. He is concerned that the attention of drivers isn’t as good as it was before the use of texting and cell phones.
Supervisor Landry stated that the proposed Local Law makes reference to things that have been done by the State. There are a lot of VTL restrictions, Ag and Markets law, Department of Corrections law amendments, and restrictions within our own vending law. Over time, the State has recognized these vehicles and they have come up with equipment regulations, restrictions on backing up, and who the drivers and employees are. Our own regulations restrict noise and times of stopping. Putting all of this together with all the restrictions on the vehicles there has been quite a bit done within the last twenty years. We are looking at those and adding a few of our own and making this a pilot program for one month only.
He commended both sponsors in moving forward slowly and cautiously by proposing a trial run. He encouraged everyone to look at all the laws and regulations that have been passed over the last twenty years with this type vehicle, sign requirements, and the public health requirements before we get to the public hearings which will be held at our regular meeting, July 27, at 7 p.m.
There being no further business to come before the Town Board, Supervisor Landry adjourned the Special Meeting.
Helen F. Kopke, Town Clerk