AT A REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 23RD DAY OF NOVEMBER, 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 Nottke, Deputy Town Clerk, Peter Scagnelli, Town Attorney, John Lubrant, Chief of Police, Matt Miller, Deputy Town Attorney, Frank Gavin, Superintendent of Highways, Paul Sebesta, Comptroller and Matt Yetto, Engineer.
TOWN CLERK’S BUSINESS
The minutes of the meeting of October 14, 2010 were approved as presented.
Upon presentation of the minutes of the meeting of October 26, 2010, Councilwoman Kasper asked the clerk to review and include more of her discussion regarding the Senior Center.
A Public Hearing was held to consider a local law to amend the Town Code regarding frozen desserts.
Alex Burgess, 2170 Mountainview Road, thinks the ice cream truck trial went well because many adults and children got ice cream. She feels that people were excited to see the truck in their neighborhood. People she spoke to said they thought the driver was respectful and liked having the truck around.
Julia La Blanc, 1401 Fox Hollow Road, thinks we should have ice cream trucks because they are enjoyable and the ice cream tastes good.
Caroline McGraw, 1177 Rosehill Boulevard, is a fifth grader who asked the Town Board to consider a one month trial for the ice cream truck last year. Thanks to the efforts of a lot of kids the Board voted for the trial for the first time in decades. She hopes the Town Board will vote to keep the ice cream truck. She feels that the kids showed they were able to stay safe during the trial period; that it was a nice way for neighbors to gather as well, enjoying cool refreshing treats on hot summer days. She added that the experience also showed how important it is for everyone, including kids, to be involved in our community.
Beth Jacobs, 1131 Van Antwerp, thinks having the ice cream truck back is great, but is concerned about speeding cars and the safety of customers. She heard of an incident in the 1970’s that stopped the trucks. Her grandfather was a Schenectady cop who pushed a girl out of harm’s way injuring himself. She doesn’t want to see anything bad happening here.
Liz Slavin, 1653 Balltown Road, is very excited to have the ice cream man back in Niskayuna. Her observation has been that he has been very safe and courteous with the children.
Jack Grossman, thinks the ice cream truck should stay because after an exhausting day it’s a refreshing and yummy treat.
Brendan McDonnell, 56 Chestnut Lane, thinks the ice cream truck should stay because it did everything right during the trial, following all the rules and driving slower when kids were around. He said what was really great was that the kids asked for this and the Town Board listened.
Brian Collis, owner of the Mr. Ding-a-ling truck said Niskayuna was their number one route starting the trial period. He addressed the Board about being able to operate a public address system from the truck and whether or not music would be allowed to be played from the truck. Supervisor Landry said there was a reasonable standard allowed for noise level.
Joan Pritchard, 1919 Mayfair Road, said she only saw good things in her highly populated neighborhood with the trial run of the ice cream truck pointing out how the driver was good with the kids and concerned about the kid’s safety, keeping them off the road. Also, she saw no traffic issues.
Leslie Gold, 1919 Pawtucket Avenue, hopes the ice cream truck is approved so she can get to be a customer next summer since she missed out this year.
Brian Moore, 1005 North Wood Court, said everyone in the neighborhood thought it was great to have the ice cream truck and he enthusiastically supports it.
When no other members of the public wished to be heard, Supervisor Landry closed the Public Hearing.
The following resolution was approved with a vote of five ayes unless otherwise noted.
Resolution 2010-242 amends the Town Code regarding frozen desserts. The resolution was approved with a vote of four ayes. Councilwoman Kasper voted no. Councilwoman McDonnell, upon voting aye, wished to say thank you to the children and parents for coming to the meeting to speak and thank you to the people from Ding-a-Ling ice cream. Thank you to John Lubrant, Niskayuna Police Chief for his department’s involvement in safety training regarding the ice cream truck at the Town’s summer camps. It’s also important to know the Town Board controls the licensing process and if there are ever problems, let them be known because licenses can be revoked.
Supervisor Landry, upon voting aye, said he was pleased to support the resolution and thanked everyone for coming to the meeting. He said the Police Department would conduct the safety training at the summer playground camps again this year.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
Donald DeMarco, 2055 Nott Street, has a problem with cars speeding on Nott Street. He thinks there should be more of a Police presence and says his complaints to both the Town and the County have only led to temporary results. In his opinion, there should be four-way stops on the corners of Nott Street and either Regent Street or Dean Street to slow the cars down.
Tom Spataro, President of Niskayuna Little League Baseball, thanks the Board for their support of a project at the ball field in Blatnick Park. Frank Gavin, Superintendent of Highways has been especially helpful with this project of replacing the fencing and adding a retaining wall to help with some serious and costly drainage problems at the field.
Niskayuna Baseball provides the opportunity for around 700 children to play baseball in several categories. The support of the Town helps the League tremendously.
Charles Lester, 3454 Albany Street, says he expressed a desire in writing to revitalize the Fillmore Cemetery about a year ago to several town departments and has not received a response.
He feels the Town is not enforcing ordinances and should not be passing new ordinances if present ones are not enforced.
Since there have been several instances of vandalism at his house, and police have had to visit on a number of occasions, he would like to see a dedicated patrol in that neighborhood.
Lorene Zabin, 2455 Brookshire Drive, discussed the number of seniors attending the programs at the Senior Center, how they are counted and the amount of revenue they bring to the Town. She believes there are more seniors attending the senior programs than are reported.
She mentioned alternative services available to seniors such as the Umbrella, for those over 65 who need help fixing things around the house for a small yearly fee. There is also an employment service at the Niskayuna High School where students help seniors with yard work and odd jobs around the house.
She asked if the Board looked into the qualifications of a person being appointed to the Board of Assessment Review.
Melissa Bartlett, 2220 Stoneridge Road, is in the 45 to 65 age bracket and heard there was talk of creating programs for that age group. She feels most people her age find their own entertainment and does not see a need for those programs.
Richard Fisher, 2305 Berkley Avenue, says the new budget has three main problems, a tax increase, bonding and applied fund balance. It is his opinion the tax increase should be removed, there should be no bonding and the fund balance figures should be available to the public.
May Burgess, 848 Maxwell Drive, participates frequently at the Senior Center and praises the programs and services there. She believes $32,000 would be better spent helping to pay for the senior bus along with the $9,000 gifted to the center instead of being budgeted for a new employee.
She mentioned the passing of a well-respected volunteer at the Senior Center, Nancy Brown, who has helped for many years in the kitchen. Many of the seniors were not going to the center tomorrow in order to attend her funeral.
She questioned the number of votes needed to pass a resolution when money was involved, for example, in passing the budget. Supervisor Landry answered that three votes are needed to pass a resolution. The exception is in the case of bonding and some property transfers when four votes are necessary.
Barbara Burgess, 2170 Mountainview Avenue, as a physical therapist she provides services to many seniors and advocates for seniors. She believes you can’t determine the needs of all the seniors in town by listening to a small number that attend the present programs; that interests vary in any age group and there is room for the programming to reflect a wider range of activities. She believes the present program is over budget for the number of people being served and that the program deserves a closer look at being revamped.
Mary White, 2134 Lynnwood Drive, feels comments made by Councilwoman McDonnell at the November 18th meeting about dissatisfied seniors were unsupported.
She believes that Supervisor Landry’s goal has been to replace the senior staff with people of his choice.
Upon closing of Privilege of the Floor, Supervisor Landry spoke to clarify the issue of privilege of the floor not being held at the November 18th special meeting to adopt the budget. He explained that because the budget, by law, had to be adopted before November 20th, a third and special meeting had to be called for the month of November. Where there were already two other meetings for the month holding privilege of the floor and the practice over the past three years was to have two privileges of the floor each month, there was, therefore, no privilege held at the November 18th meeting.
Supervisor Landry called for a moment of silence for the passing of Nancy Brown.
Public Works and Transportation Committee: Councilwoman McGraw reports leaf pickup is progressing well, seasonal facilities have closed and the Highway Department is preparing the plows for the winter ahead. An issue regarding the bathroom at the rec center has been addressed and Frank Gavin is continuing to work to resolve an issue concerning the elevator at the recreation center.
Approximately 3,200 water meters have already been replaced in the town. She urges residents to call when they receive the post card from the meter company to schedule their replacement. In almost all cases, it’s quick and easy and the new meters will allow the town to collect data electronically. So far feedback on the project has been very positive.
Some people have had concerns about the water mains breaking. So far this year, there have been forty-three breaks. Sixty is the average number of breaks in a year, with some years having one hundred or more breaks. The Town is trying to deal with this situation. Those large water mains that have been troublesome over the years have been replaced.
A question recently came up about a DEC consent order. The Town has had this order from the Department of Environmental Conservation regarding inflow and infiltration since 2003 and has been making improvements and working consistently with DEC to meet certain benchmarks.
In July of this year a DEC engineer, as part of a three page letter to the Town, suggested the order of consent be modified. Town staff and attorneys have been working with DEC to move forward with a resolution.
Councilman McKinney mentioned a water main break this morning which he claims caused the street to erode to the point where a school bus had to be towed out of a hole.
Supervisor Landry explained that there was some underground leakage which created some erosion on the surface causing the bus to sink when stopped at a stop sign. The children and driver were taken off the bus and nobody was hurt.
Public Safety Committee: Councilwoman Kasper reports that vests are being purchased with a partial grant and partial matching funds.
The Dog Ordinance is on tonight’s agenda, which needs to be passed before the end of the year. She says we will see the Dog Ordinance come up again in order to address some of the text. She feels the ordinance cannot be enforced the way it is written.
There will be a public hearing on stop signs. She asked Police Chief Lubrant to add Nott Street and Van Antwerp Road to the next meeting’s agenda as residents in attendance had issues with traffic on those roads. She knows the Police patrol every neighborhood, but would like to discuss the neighborhood around Albany Street on the agenda as well.
Education, Parks & Recreation Committee: Improvements to the baseball field were approved at the last committee meeting and that is going before the Town Board tonight. They are working with the Girl’s Softball League on expanding their program, making improvements to their fields and getting a storage shed at River Road Park for their equipment. The committee is looking for a solution for the Lacrosse and Soccer clubs in coming up with a better practice space. The committee hopes to establish a trail development committee. John Brown, an expert on all the trails in Niskayuna, spoke with the committee a few months ago, and has offered to volunteer his time in helping to set this up.
The following resolutions were passed with a vote of five ayes unless otherwise noted.
Resolution 2010-243 authorizes certain modifications to the 2010 budget.
Resolution 2010-244 extends a lease agreement for 10 years with Niskayuna Baseball Ltd. and authorizes the purchase of equipment and material for improvements at Blatnick Park. In explaining his aye vote, Supervisor Landry thanks Niskayuna Baseball for taking the effort to make improvements to the field. Thank you also to Tom for coming tonight to speak at the meeting.
Resolution 2010-245 accepts a proposal from Layne Christensen Company for the redevelopment of a town well.
Resolution 2010-246 amends resolution 2010-137 authorizing the purchase of certain equipment for use in the water and sewer department.
Resolution 2010-247 enacts Local Law No. 10 regarding the licensing of dogs. Supervisor Landry thanked former Town Clerk, Helen Kopke, who worked with Deputy Town Attorney, Matt Miller to update the law. According to a new mandate, the State is no longer licensing dogs and the Town has a statutory duty to take over the task. As a result, there are changes in procedures, which are reflected in the licensing fees.
Councilwoman McGraw voted yes, adding she was glad that the increase in fees were kept to a minimum only taking into account the extra costs incurred to process the licenses locally.
Resolution 2010-248 authorizes the supervisor to enter into an agreement to permit construction of a portion of a fence within a town easement.
Resolution 2010-249 authorizes the purchase of fire hydrants.
Resolution 2010-250 amends resolution 2010-66 authorizing the Superintendent of Highways to use certain lawn mowing and trimming services for the Dean Street and Baker Avenue parks.
Resolution 2010-251 authorizes the execution of an outside user agreement. Councilwoman Kasper asked if this would add to the inflow problem. Supervisor Landry answered that putting new piping in is not the cause of the problem. The cause of the problems the Town is having is from the older pipes and from sump pumps emptying into the sewer system instead of the storm water system. The new camera truck is able to see where those sump pumps are draining improperly.
Resolution 2010-252 authorizes the acceptance of a grant for the purchase of ballistic vests for police officers.
Resolution 2010-253 calls for a Public Hearing to amend the Vehicle and Traffic Code to provide for the installation of a stop sign on Empire Road and Lishakill Road.
Resolution 2010-254 accepts a utility easement on Vrooman Avenue.
Resolution 2010-255 appoints a person to the position of Water and Sewer Maintenance Worker in the Water and Sewer Department.
Resolution 2010-256 authorizes the repair of a water meter.
Resolution 2010-257 authorizes the renewal of a software database maintenance contract and the purchase of a server.
Resolution 2010-258 authorizes the modification of the MVP and CDPHP HMO plans. Supervisor Landry thanked Comptroller, Paul Sebesta and his staff, for providing all the information into these plans. Ultimately, this will save the Town roughly $70,000.
Resolution 2010-259 authorizes the supervisor to execute a satisfaction and discharge of a mortgage.
Resolution 2010-260 appoints a person to the Board of Assessment Review. The resolution passed with four ayes and one abstention. Councilwoman Kasper abstained from voting since she felt she did not know enough about the candidates and would liked to have seen her resume before making her decision.
Councilwoman McGraw spoke of Maureen as someone who came to her attention when she chaired the Finance Committee at St. Helen’s Church. Now managing the branch of a local bank, she has also served for years as a reporter. Her work history shows her as someone who is fiscally responsible and as someone who will communicate well with the public, making her an excellent candidate. She added that there are people who will use the word ‘friends’ when positions are being appointed. While members of the board may know a candidate, that doesn’t make them “shopping buddies”, but that they are people who are known to the Board and who do substantive work in the community and are willing to take on these responsibilities. There are not a lot of volunteers for those boards and committee positions as they are very tough jobs.
Resolution 2010-261 calls for a Public Hearing to amend the Vehicle and Traffic Code to provide for the installation of a stop sign on Napa Court and Ravine Road.
Resolution 2010-262 appoints a person as a part-time clerk.
Resolution 2010-263 is regarding a part-time clerk and appoints a Deputy Town Registrar in the Office of the Town Clerk.
There being no further business to come before the Town Board, Supervisor Landry adjourned the meeting.
Barbara A. Nottke, Deputy Town Clerk