AT A REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 26TH DAY OF OCTOBER, 2010, AT THE NISKAYUNA OFFICE BUILDING, ONE NISKAYUNA CIRCLE, NISKAYUNA, NEW YORK, THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS WERE PRESENT:
Jonathan McKinney, Councilman
Denise Murphy McGraw, Councilwoman
Liz Orzel Kasper, Councilwoman
Julie McDonnell, Councilwoman
Joe Landry, Supervisor
Also present: Barbara A. Nottke, Deputy Town Clerk, Peter Scagnelli, Town Attorney, John Lubrant, Chief of Police, Matt Miller, Deputy Town Attorney, Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water & Sewer, Paul Sebesta, Comptroller, Kathy Matern, Town Planner, Bill Lawrence, Computer Network Coordinator, Amy Houlihan, Town Assessor and Lori Peretti, Community Programs Coordinator.
TOWN CLERK’S BUSINESS
The minutes of the meeting of September 28, 2010 were approved as presented.
A Public Hearing was held to consider amending the code of the Town regarding the licensing of dogs.
Linda Rizzo, 2229 Fairlawn Parkway, does not remember seeing a definition of vicious dogs in the policy and feels it should be included. She has an issue concerning the portion of the law stating that dogs can not void on public property saying that the only way to prevent that would be to not walk the dog at all. This is one of several issues she would like to see amended, also mentioning time constraints on barking dogs and the removal of unlicensed dogs from the home.
As for cats, she feels it unfortunate that nothing is done to address the issues of cats running free.
Councilwoman Kasper said the suggestions would be taken into consideration since that was the reason for the hearing.
Deputy Town Attorney, Matt Miller explained the Dog Law originates with New York State and that only a few changes have been made to reflect the change of responsibility of licensing dogs going from the State to the local municipalities. Among those changes in the law are for the Town Board to set all licensing fees, to allow for a dog enumeration in the Town and to allow for the option of animal shelters to license dogs. Seniors will still be given a discount on license fees and there will be no fee for licensed therapy and guide dogs. This needed to be done by the end of the year as the change takes place the first of 2011.
The main purpose of amending the law at this time was to meet the requirements of licensing dogs by the local municipality. Councilwoman Kasper said she felt the law needed some clarification and would like to see it addressed further.
Leslie Gold, 1919 Pawtucket Road, said the history of the dog law was to protect the farmer’s chickens from marauding dogs. Much of it is no longer an issue since there are no longer many working farms in the area. However, she has an issue with cats in the area. Her neighbor moved away and left behind cats that are destroying her garden.
The cats are a bigger problem so if you are going to do something with the law, something should be done about the cats.
When no other members of the public wished to be heard, Supervisor Landry closed the Public Hearing.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
Joe Landry, Supervisor, began by saying that regarding his budget for Senior Programs, this budget allocates monies for the down payment of a new bus. He intends to ask the Board Members to support this appropriation and to provide the remainder of the funding for this bus purchase in a future bonding resolution. The need for a new bus was brought to his attention by the seniors who use the current bus. He thanks them for attending Town Board meetings and speaking at privilege of the floor and is pleased to advocate on their behalf for a new bus.
Additionally, this budget provides for additional staff in the Senior Programming Department. New resources are necessary in this department so we can provide additional programs and services. He has been approached by many seniors asking that we undertake new and different programs. He has added an additional $32,000 for staff in the Senior Department to accomplish that objective. There have been some concerns that existing programs and existing staff at the Senior Department will be compromised. Supervisor Landry says that is not his intention. This budget simply increases the budget line to improve programs and services and is not intended to have any impact on current programming and staff.
Margaret Blechinger, Parkville Place, mentions the amount of $9,495 written into the budget, which she says was gifted to the Senior Center. She asks where the $32,000 is in the budget and where the rest of the money is to buy the bus? Supervisor Landry answered that the average price would be about $60,000 for a bus and the Town would bond for the remainder of the cost.
There was a discussion about whether or not a meeting took place where decisions were made or votes were taken regarding personnel. Supervisor Landry clarified that there was no meeting and there was no vote taken.
Councilman McKinney was asked about his recent resignation as Chairman of the Senior Programs Committee to which he responded that there were changes made with which he felt he was not included and with which he did not agree.
She went on to say that the seniors at the Center are upset at the news that Annette is leaving, Kathleen is leaving the Community Center to work at Town Hall and they heard that Sue Leonard’s job would end at the end of the year. Acting as messenger, she presented the Clerk with a number of petitions on behalf of the seniors, asking for the reinstatement of Jonathan McKinney to the Senior Programs Committee.
She feels the Senior Center is presently understaffed with the Senior Coordinator working at Town Hall. The building has no security and Sue Leonard tries to cover the building, upstairs and down. She feels this is something that needs to be resolved. Since Sue has always shoveled the snow, she is worried about future maintenance. She also thinks a safety railing would be a good idea.
Some of the seniors at the meeting had requested the use of the senior bus as transport to tonight’s meeting and were upset that this was denied. In response to their requests, Supervisor Landry had responded in an email that transportation to the meeting was not proper usage of the town bus and that it might not be legal, citing the bus would be used to transport a private group to lobby the Town legislative body on a particular issue. Supervisor Landry also offered to coordinate volunteers to provide transportation for those wanting to attend the meeting. Councilwoman McGraw also emailed, offering a ride to anyone who wanted to attend the meeting without transportation.
There was a discussion between Councilwoman Kasper and Town Attorney Scagnelli as to whether or not it would be illegal to use the bus for the meeting, Attorney Scagnelli stating that the concern is in using public resources to participate in a political proceeding.
She went on to read a joint letter from the seniors asking the Town not to make certain changes in the Senior Center; not to eliminate Sue Leonard’s position, whom they feel has been an outstanding employee; not to close the Community Center in the near future. Supervisor Landry stated that he has addressed their concerns upon opening tonight’s meeting and in meeting with the seniors previously: there are no plans to close the Senior Center; the new budget allows for current programs to continue and for new programs and staff to be added; Sue Leonard’s position is not eliminated in the budget.
Councilwoman Kasper said she felt that the reason the seniors heard about some changes at the Center was because she told one employee at the center whose job would be discontinued at the end of the year. She went on to say how important the seniors are to the Town and what a good job Sue Leonard has done with the Senior Center. **The councilwoman said she has been instrumental in procuring many senior center locations over the years and she believes the current center is unattended when Sue Leonard is not working, Annette is gone, and Kathleen is at the other building. She says ECOS is there and that they have nothing to do with the Town and don’t answer the door. She added that as a councilwoman during the years she served as chair on the Senior Programs Committee, she never heard a complaint
about Sue Leonard.
Letters were then read, written by seniors on behalf of Sue Leonard, all asking for the continuation of her employment. These letters and a petition were presented to the Clerk for the record.
Janice Mansfield, 2 Brookhaven Drive, takes her mother to the Senior Center and has been very pleased with the way Sue Leonard has run the program there. Having earned her confidence and respect, she hopes she will be around for a long time. Also, in restructuring the program, the Town might want to consider improving programs aimed at the 45 to 65 year age group, not to take away from the existing programs for seniors. In her observation, between Kathleen, Sue, Ms. Peretti and whoever the new person will be she thinks it needs to be made clearer what each person’s responsibility is. She offered her services as a volunteer with programs.
Leslie Gold, 1919 Pawtucket Avenue, wished to take a moment to remember Marie Pletenik, with whom she served on the Advisory Council. Marie was a bright lady willing to analyze everything that came her way.
If the Board continues to include an invocation at the beginning of their meetings, she asked that diversity please be considered. Supervisor Landry commented that they are working to have a leader from a different faith lead the invocation each month.
Marcie Schaefer, 1262 Fox Hollow Road, would not like to see extending services at the Senior Center to a 45 to 65 year age group to detract from the programs her age group enjoys. She feels older seniors would not keep up with younger seniors joining in activities.
She is concerned about a new coordinator coming to the Senior Center and how much experience that person would have to take over that position.
Lorene Zabin, 2555 Brookshire Drive, said there is a Senior Advisory Committee sign-up sheet at the Senior Center and there are about eight or nine people who would like to attend and serve the Senior Programs Committee as advocates of the seniors. She would like to hear about Senior Committee Meetings for the month of November so those people can attend.
She feels that the senior bus poses limitations, having only twenty seats, therefore, programs often have limited space and it’s only available on certain days of the week.
She believes that at an unpublicized meeting, the sale of town property was discussed, the property being the old Allen house by the Mohawk River. She understands this property is to be used for the new boat house for the crew team. She feels that this is prime property and these plans should be made more public.
Diane O’Donnell, 1921 Mayfair Road, is troubled by how upset the seniors are. She believes that rather than have them suffer rumors about what will happen to their programs, whatever the truth is should be clear and made available.
Lil Stacey, 2253 Niskayuna Drive, feels that the Senior Program has been very successful led by a highly qualified and dedicated team that have more than met the needs of the seniors. Lately, the serenity of the center has changed to a mood of turmoil due to rumors and a lack of communication. With no receptionist to greet people at the door she feels has left a void. With the current part-time staff doing everything, creating a new position at the center, in her opinion, would not be fiscally sound.
She questioned money donated to the Senior Center and mentioned in the 2011 Budget for the senior bus. Supervisor Landry explained that money, even though donated to the Center, still must be allocated in the budget for that special purpose – the senior bus.
Linda Rizzo, 2229 Fairlawn Parkway, believes that regarding a reorganization meeting discussed, Councilman McKinney should have been invited and it should have been open to the seniors to express their feeling.
Regarding policy and the dog law, to have a portion of the law, for instance, to not allow dogs to mark, because it has always been in the law, she feels is ridiculous and unenforceable.
She was bothered by a campaign letter sent that was signed by some public officials.
Jane Hastings, 2178 Daisy Lane, is bothered that the upstairs at the Senior Center has no personnel to watch equipment or to make sure no one gets hurt coming in or out of the building.
Don Marcello, 2104 Baker Avenue, bus driver for the senior bus, to bring a lighter note to the meeting pointed out the art work hanging on the walls of the Town Board Room to show just one of the many nice things the seniors do.
Supervisor Landry thanked Edie Cannizzo for organizing the art show each year.
Margaret Blechinger, Parkville Place, felt that better job descriptions were needed to separate responsibilities of staff.
She added that Union College has many programs for seniors, some that might interest younger seniors in particular. Siena College has programs as well for upper education.
Public Works and Transportation Committee: Councilwoman McGraw reported that the Ray Street Project is just about done with thirty new trees planted. Thanks to the Highway Department, the Water and Sewer Department for all they did and to our friends at National Grid for all their help.
Loose brush is being picked up and loose leaf pick-up begins November first.
The water meter replacement project is about halfway through the Town and is moving along quite well.
Education, Parks & Recreation Committee: Councilwoman McDonnell reported the soccer season coming to an end and announced the Halloween Parade at Town Hall on Sunday. Thanks to Councilwoman McGraw and Lori Peretti for helping to organize that event.
Registrations are now being accepted for Winter and Spring programs.
Public Safety Committee: Councilwoman Kasper announced the committee would look at the dog licensing law at the next meeting in November.
The following resolutions were approved with a vote of five ayes unless otherwise noted.
Resolution 2010-216 authorizes payment for bond counsel services related to the preparation for various bond resolutions. The resolution passed with a vote of four ayes. (Councilwoman Kasper was absent).
Resolution 2010-217 authorizes the supervisor to renew an agreement for employee assistance services. The resolution passed with a vote of four ayes. (Councilwoman Kasper was absent).
Resolution 2010-218 authorizes the supervisor to enter into a contract for professional services for an early reinsurance program. The resolution was passed with four ayes. (Councilwoman Kasper was absent).
Resolution 2010-219 authorizes the supervisor to enter into a contract for professional services regarding a health insurance audit.
Resolution 2010-220 regarding the health insurance buy-back program.
Resolution 2010-221 appoints a person as Town Registrar.
Resolution 2010-222 appoints certain persons to the Dean Street Park District Committee.
Resolution 2010-223 calls for a public hearing to amend the Town Code regarding frozen desserts.
Resolution 2010-224 amends resolution 2010-176, regarding authorizing the Superintendent of Water and Sewer to attend a conference.
Resolution 2010-225 authorizes and directs the advertisement for bids on the purchases of required quantities of materials needed for public works in 2011.
Resolution 2010-226 enacts Local Law No. 9 regarding a real property tax exemption.
Resolution 2010-227 extends an inter-municipal sanitary sewer agreement for 25 years.
Resolution 2010-228 appoints a person to the position of Engineering Technician in the Engineering Department.
Resolution 2010-229 authorizes payment to the Niskayuna Central School District for bus transportation.
Resolution 2010-230 authorizes payment for services provided by an independent contractor.
Resolution 2010-231 authorizes the submittal of a grant application seeking monies from the Justice Court Assistance Program.
Resolution 2010-232 authorizes the supervisor to submit a grant application to the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation Green Innovation Grant Program 2010.
There being no further business to come before the Town Board, Supervisor Landry adjourned the meeting.
Barbara A. Nottke, Deputy Town Clerk