AT A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 19th DAY OF AUGUST, 2010 AT THE NISKAYUNA OFFICE BUILDING, ONE NISKAYUNA CIRCLE, THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS WERE PRESENT:
Jonathan McKinney, Councilman
Liz Orzel Kasper, Councilwoman
Julie McDonnell, Councilwoman
Joe Landry, Supervisor
Denise Murphy McGraw, Councilwoman, absent
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
XXXX Orchard Park Drive, stated that the Stanford home is about historic preservation and the appearance of our Town and about clean, honest, and responsible Town governance or the lack of it. The will and interests of the citizens are heard at a level below the demands of commercial development and those who profit from it.
He has been led to believe by several respected engineers that the Ingersoll Home cannot be successfully moved for the $250,000 approved by the Board several weeks ago. A more realistic figure is two to three times as much. The $250,000 allocation suggests even the cynical possibility that this proposal is a sham to get rid of the structure by anticipating its failure.
He offered three alternatives: preserve the building at its present position with renovation, re-landscaping, and establishment of appropriate green space with minimum commercial development not involving the building itself at a cost estimate of $500,000 to $1,000,000; if not more than $250,000 is available and failure to move successfully appears to be a near certainty then consider demolition; agreement by the Town to allocate realistic money for moving the structure and continue with a mall concept.
He asked the government to reorient itself towards better trusteeship and stewardship. The lack of this attitude is reflected by this offensive debacle that they are gathered to rectify. The present awful visual status of the home and surrounding area demands a total relook at the entire process. More empty spaces and more for sale and lease signs cast gloom on our Town leading to further egress, less tax base, and eventually more disturbance in property values as the Town looses its renowned desirability.
XXXX Stuyvesant Street, felt let down, especially with the Planning Board because they were led to believe there was a Special Use Permit that the Town Board passed saying that there could be no change with the Ingersoll property in terms of its location restoration, and landscaping. She has never lived in a place where there is total disregard for things historic. She thinks it is sad that we have a property on Balltown and State Street that looks like Halloween every day and it is one of the most historic places in the capital district.
XXXX Hedgewood Lane, is concerned about the trees and historical places in Niskayuna. According to the Arbor Day Foundation website, Niskayuna is no longer on the list as a Tree City USA.
The mansion is a huge eyesore and probably is not according to the dreams that they may have had. They now have an opportunity to step back and rescue the mansion which is beginning to be decrepit. She asked that the Supervisor at minimum to not allow the developer to move the mansion, landscape it as promised, and restore it. She asked that they repair the egregious act of omission that the Town Board and the Planning Board have done.
XXXX Oakmont Street, commented that the Planning Board has revised what was originally agreed upon that the mansion would stay as it was. He felt it wasn’t the first time the Planning Board didn’t do its homework. Three years ago we had meetings where questions were raised about the viability of the mall and why we needed another bank and drug store. It was stated that 70% of the business for the new mall would come from other Niskayuna businesses.
The Planning Board stated that this is a minor change and they were going to incorporate it into what looked like an office building. The house is not very well protected (it has been vandalized) so the interest of the owner is lackadaisical. There is some risk that it won’t make it to the new location. A lot of homework has not been done particularly by Mr. Landry and he hoped that they would consider getting a grip on some of these issues.
XXXX Fairlawn Parkway, agrees with everything that the speakers have said. She noticed over the summer there was a lot of attention given to the ice cream truck. She has an issue with the lack of balance and giving priority to what she considers minor issues while ignoring major issues that the Town faces.
St. James Square has lost most of the stores. If they put that focus and concern when all the stores started pulling out of Niskayuna she thinks we would have a great economic development program in the Town. We hear about smart economic development from people running for office and a year later hear nothing. Now we are going to put a mall up and move a historic building. The revenues will go to the South Colonie School District and the Town. She believes that the building could easily collapse in the move and then their problem will be over.
She has a problem with the Board’s sense of balance with what issues they focus on in the Town. She is concerned because she is a taxpayer and like other residents sees empty malls. She would hate to see a beautiful historic building gone in lieu of having another strip mall that will be empty. She also doesn’t understand how other Towns in the area can attract business but we can’t.
XXXX Sheridan Avenue, Albany, although not a resident, feels visitors get a good or bad impression of our Town considering the location of the Stanford Mansion on a main crossroad.
He has been involved in compiling the archeological inventory of the grounds and it is listed on the NY State inventory of archeological resources of the State. It has never been treated adequately by government officials and the foundation has not been considered as part of the history of the building. He has information and belief that the kitchen was in the northeast corner and there were some interesting things that were exposed by the removal of an early addition which has been ignored in terms of archeological work. It should have gone to our Conservation Advisory Council before there was any thought of moving the mansion. Neither this Board nor the Planning Board has any expertise in this matter but the CAC does. He distributed an engraving and photographs of the northeast corner
to the Board. The archeologist said they would go back and explore around the foundation which they never did. He has seen a lot of people offer a lot of good information to the Board and he wished that the Board would start being more appreciative.
XXXX Troy Road, (representing Friends of Stanford Home) asked the Town Board to take this issue back onto itself because they feel that the Planning Board has not done what should have been done with a major change. She knows that they have used the term that it’s a minor change in the plan, but this is a major change.
When a new Board was elected they had high hopes because during their campaign they said they would work very hard for a building moratorium. They are very disappointed that there was no work for this.
Councilwoman Liz Orzel Kasper, the sponsor of the resolution, said
“I am delighted to offer this resolution which was that the Town withdrew from the Appellate Court. From the onset she felt very strongly that a complete EIS should have been done. This is a project that will impact our Town forever. You can never go back after this historic site is replaced by asphalt and concrete. I truly feel that the present Town Board with two new members will act in the best interest of the Town. The residents of our Town have spoken and it is time we listen.” They asked the Town to join on their side but this didn’t happen.
Ms. Champagne quoted Councilwoman McDonnell as saying “The community has expressed widespread concern with this development project and the lack of an EIS which was recommended by the Planning Board and is common for projects of this magnitude. It is our job as elected officials to listen to the residents and address their concerns. She hoped their action to withdraw the Town as a party to this appeal will provide an opportunity for more community input and a thorough review of every aspect of this project including preservation of the historic Stanford Home.”
Supervisor Landry was quoted as saying “I believe that the Stanford Crossing project will have a significant impact upon this community and its residents and it should have received appropriate review and public input at all stages of the development process. The prior Town Board’s determination that this project will not have a significant effect on the environment and that a negative declaration be filed is not consistent with my belief especially since the Planning Board recommended a full EIS.”
We’ve come a long way in the ensuing time and there was no work for a building moratorium. The Town Attorney advising them was not what she considers a dependable source of all the options and all the options were never presented to the Planning Board. All she heard was that there was no need for a new Special Use Permit and that the Board could approve the total change. They fought so hard to make sure that the building was left on the kitchen and foundation.
We don’t have a planning philosophy. Other towns have done building moratoriums because they wanted to know what their resources were and she thinks the Supervisor wanted to do that too. She thinks that the Planning Board should not have had the power to say this plan is not a significant change when she feels it is an extremely significant change.
She would like the Planning Board to stand down for six months which would give us a defacto building moratorium.
The Planning Board is not adequately trained in the philosophy of planning for a Town that wanted to keep some semblance of its smallness (which is gone) and of its beauty (disappearing fast). She sees an immediate need to keep the building and foundation in place and restored. She would like this back to the Town Board because they are the lead agency who said the plan would go as submitted and the map submitted has significant changes.
The Friends of Stanford Home will probably take legal action to try and stop the building and the new plan from being put in place. Since 3 of the Board members that they know of are still stating their support and interest in the historic site she asked that the Board consider doing something. Councilwoman Kasper will “stand by what I said.”
XXXX Brookshire Drive, is a member of the Friends of the Stanford Home and is disappointed in Niskayuna and its management. We have special meetings once a month and they are supposed to be for special events. We only have one regularly scheduled meeting a month because so many of you are active in other enterprises and that’s not fair to the Town.
She looked at the petition of 62 names for the ice cream truck and felt it would never have passed scrutiny in a Board of Elections and not every area in Niskayuna had a person sign up. Also, they have never appointed a Historian. She hates the way you have treated some people who have retired.
We waited three years on one Special Use Permit before anything was done except a considerable amount of destruction on a site. Now the same thing is happening with CVS. She believes the Planning Board needs to have some reconstruction. The permits and resolutions granting them permission to build and come into our Town are much too long. CVS couldn’t wait to get started and get into the construction period and they aren’t going to do anything until February. Supervisor Landry noted that the delay is due to a pending law suit. We’re moving along with it and it may take longer than February to get adjudicated.
The following resolutions were approved with a vote of four ayes (Councilwoman McGraw was absent) unless otherwise noted:
Resolution 2010-167 certifies the current base proportions to be used as class tax share for municipal and school district tax levies.
Resolution 2010-168 certifies the adjusted based proportions to be used as class tax shares for municipal and school district levies.
Resolution 2010-169 accepts title to two acres of land from the County of Schenectady located between Route 7 and Hickory Road.
Resolution 2010-170 authorizes the payment for professional services related to the issuance of a Serial Bond in the amount of $11,000.
Resolution 2010-171 enacts Local Law 7 to add a Chapter regarding the sale of frozen desserts by vendors.
Resolution 2010-172 authorizes the purchase of a control system of the existing chiller and pumps at a total cost not to exceed $8,450.
Resolution 2010-173 authorizes the advertising for bids for the purchase of chemicals for use by the Water & Sewer Department.
Resolution 2010-174 authorizes Sewer District Extension 119 for Sewer District No. 6 by Drake Petroleum and Leemilts Petroleum of 3159 Troy Road.
Resolution 2010-175 authorizes the execution of an Outside Sewer Agreement with Jerald A. Krug, owner of property on Consaul Road.
Resolution 2010-176 authorizes Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water & Sewer, to attend a conference August 15 to 18 in Boston Massachusetts at a cost not to exceed $1,400.
Resolution 2010-177 Tabled
Resolution 2010-178 approves purchase of one new 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe for the Police Department, at a total cost not to exceed $29,000.
Resolution 2010-179 makes budget modifications to the 2010 budget.
Resolution 2010-180 authorizes the Comptroller to reimburse Ptl. Bethany Vena for educational expenditures incurred in the spring of 2010 in the amount of $605.
Resolution 2010-181 authorizes the Supervisor to enter into an agreement with the City of Albany for electronic access to and use of the Albany Police Departments computer system for law enforcement purposes.
Resolution 2010-182 accepts a utility easement from Barbara Wood, 901 Vrooman Avenue.
Resolution 2010-183 appoints Robert Bean to the position of Van Driver/Program Aide for the Senior Center at an hourly salary of $12.2400.
Resolution 2010-184 proclaims August 1, 2010 to August 7, 2010 Clown Week in the Town.
There being no further business to come before the Town Board, Supervisor Landry adjourned the meeting.
Helen F. Kopke, Town Clerk