AT THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 26TH DAY OF APRIL, 2011, 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, Paul Sebesta, Comptroller, Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water and Sewer, Kathy Matern, Town Planner, Tim Nagell, Chief Water Plant Operator and Dan Galli, Water Plant Operator.
Fire District Volunteer Awards:
Supervisor Landry gave an introduction to the three Fire Departments providing emergency services in the Town of Niskayuna as a basis for the following special award presentations.
Fire District No. 1 is protected by a combination of dedicated career and volunteer firefighters, paramedics and EMT’s. The district operates out of two stations with the headquarters on Balltown Road, which is currently being renovated. This district covers over ten square miles with a population in excess of twelve thousand. Last year the district responded to 1,767 alarms.
Fire District No. 2, located on Troy Road, has over forty-five volunteer members. Over twenty are trained to provide emergency medical care. The district responds to over six hundred calls a year.
Stanford Fire District is located in two locations; one in Niskayuna and one in Colonie. They have over thirty-five volunteer members who provide fire fighter and emergency medical services to area residents. The district responds to between six and eight hundred calls per year.
Each year volunteers are recognized for outstanding service. This year’s awards are as follows:
Fire District No. 2 presented the White Hat Award to Jason Gresen. This is presented to a firefighter who has gone above and beyond their normal duties.
The Firefighter of the Year Award was presented to Adam Henery for responding to a large amount of the calls aside from being a full-time student and working at Mohawk Ambulance. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Harold Whitner.
Stanford Heights Fire Department presented the EMS Firefighter of the Year Award to Michael Kent. The Fire Chief described Michael as being the backbone of the department who deserved this award. He also thanked the Town Board for the opportunity to be present tonight. John Courter was the recipient of the Firefighter of the Year Award.
Tony Casso of Fire District No. 1 was presented with the Firefighter of the Year award and Denise May was voted Rookie of the Year.
The Town Board members thanked each of the volunteers for all they do for the community.
Drinking Water Week:
Supervisor Landry began by saying the Niskayuna residents get their drinking water from two ground water aquifers which provide 3.1 million gallons of water meeting New York State health standards. Town employees routinely test the water for potential contaminates, testing twenty samples per month. For the year 2010, all contaminates were below the levels permitted by the State and in most cases non-detectable. New this year, each resident will receive a copy of the 2010 Water Quality Report with their upcoming Water Bill. That report is also available on the Town’s website.
The Town Board thanked Tim Nagell, Dan Galli and Alan Schwartz for the terrific job they do at the Water Plant. For the year 2010, the Town of Niskayuna won a contest as having the best tasting drinking water in Schenectady County. The board recognized the first week of May as Drinking Water Week in the Town of Niskayuna.
A public hearing was conducted to consider the application of Ellis Hospital for the construction of two additions at the Bellevue Woman’s Center on Troy Road.
Representatives of Ellis Medicine were in attendance to make a presentation. Donald McLaughlin, Vice President of Facilities and Support Services showed plans for the design and discussed how the plans have changed since the project began a year ago and the reasons for the changes.
The project is about making Bellevue a more modern facility increasing patient services. In doing so, the new plan is designed to preserve many of the architectural components of the original structure, for example the fireplaces and woodwork.
The neighbors’ concerns have been considered and respected. The Niskayuna Tree Committee had a chance to view and approve the landscaping. Trees have been planted as a barrier between the parking lot lights (headlights) and bordering houses. Since the plans do not increase the number of beds, there should be no increase in the traffic flow. Improvements are being made to water service and drainage.
Councilwoman Kasper asked about three office buildings in back on a slope and whether or not those are part of the plan to be improved. At this time, they are not in the redesign plans. The councilwoman said she was born in that hospital and commented on how beautiful it is with the old fireplaces, but things change and we must accept that. She asked about the new space for the neonatal unit regarding the entrance and size.
Councilman McKinney asked the panel to describe how they would save the artifacts from the old architectural structures and how they would be displayed in the new facility. Mr. McLaughlin said the idea was to have a history wall in the new addition using woodwork salvaged from the original structure. They also planned to recreate woodwork in the front lobby to provide a display for donor recognition. Three fireplaces will be reused in conference rooms and a family lounge.
Councilwoman McDonnell asked about the timing of the project and how long they expect the project to take. Mr. McLaughlin expects the project to last through the year 2013.
Councilwoman McGraw commented that many of the issues dealt with in the redesigning of the plans, it seems were old concerns that have finally been addressed. For example, the planting of extra trees as a barrier between the houses and the parking lot so headlights don’t shine into windows.
When no members of the public wished to be heard, Supervisor Landry closed the public hearing.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
Lorene Zabin, 2455 Brookshire Drive recalled the parking lot lights (at Bellevue Hospital) being a major issue years ago as this project affects the residents. She is sorry to see the mansion go and expressed her regret at seeing functional buildings destroyed for the sake of progress. Among them she names the Aqueduct House, the land on which she believes should not be used for a crew team boat house but as something the whole town can use. She believes that a new boat house today will be a tax burden on the town in the future.
Looking at the list for summer help, Ms. Zabin believes the salaries are too generous at above the minimum wage and that the number being hired is very high.
She expressed surprise that the Town Board did not know until now that Shop Rite was the store moving into St. James Square.
Councilwoman Kasper asked the question how far in advance the town would know the name of a company moving into a certain location. Town Planner, Kathy Matern answered that her department fields many general “what if” type questions from and about stores and restaurants before learning who is actually interested in moving into a particular property. In this case the Planning Board dealt with a minor subdivision based on a company that was interested in purchasing the Grand Union piece of St. James Square in order to renovate and lease it. The town was not told who that company interested in leasing the property was.
Lil Stacy, regarding the new purchasing policy, would like to know how that will affect those that purchase items. Supervisor Landry informed her that this policy would not affect the items she purchases for the Dean Street Park. She was told the Town’s Purchasing Policy affects only certain town employees.
Regarding a resolution hiring new employees at the Highway Department, Recreation Department and the Water and Sewer Department, she asks how one goes about finding out about these jobs?
Councilwoman McDonnell answered for the Recreation Department that information is sent out to the High School through the Guidance Office to the students. Applications are kept on file that are submitted in person at Town Hall. As for the Water and Sewer Department, jobs were posted on the Town website.
She asked about the part-time instructors at the Senior Center and whether or not they get benefits. Councilman McKinney answered that they are independent contractors who come in with their own supplies and are paid for the class time without benefit.
She asked about having coverage upstairs at the Senior Center and was told that was being addressed.
Public Works and Transportation Committee: Councilwoman McGraw began by saying that after a tough winter there is a list of storm-related and post-winter repairs for the Highway Department including the rebuilding of the town gazebo. There are many trees down and lawn repairs on the list. The department is organizing its paving schedule as well.
Water bills are going out this week. The annual flushing of hydrants is about to begin.
Regarding job opportunities, jobs were posted on the Town website and about forty people applied for this summer’s engineering internship. The two people being appointed went through a rigorous application and interview process.
Economic Development, Historic Preservation and Environmental Conservation Committee: Councilman McKinney announced that Mansion Square is starting construction soon. Town Planner, Kathy Matern said she received the building permit for Chipotle Restaurant today. Bellevue Hospital has laid out their plans for renovation as seen and heard tonight.
Public Safety Committee: Councilwoman Kasper reports that items discussed at the Police meeting were the cleaning of uniforms, civil service exams being offered, an update of the recording system and tuition reimbursement for Patrolwoman Beth Vena, who recently completed her course.
She mentioned as co-chair of the Senior Programs Committee that many seniors showed up to the last meeting. Bridge has three tables on Thursday afternoons and is working out well. Anyone interested in playing should call the Center.
Education, Parks and Recreation Committee: Councilwoman McDonnell reports the parks and fields are now open and Highway is busy getting them in order. The summer brochure is available and they are taking registration for Summer Programs. They are in the final process of hiring summer employees for the summer programs and camp programs. She explained the large number of individuals hired at the pool being that many lifeguards are needed to give swimming lessons. Many of the employees are in college and have to leave earlier toward the end of summer, therefore high school students are also hired to fill in at that time. She noted that there are many employees starting at minimum wage being first year employees. As the students return each year, having more
age and experience, they do receive salary increases (about 50 cents a year).
She reports the summer concert schedule is also being finalized.
Regarding the Aqueduct House on the Mohawk River, she agrees it is a beautiful piece of property and it is a shame it has not been put to better use in the past. Now that the building has to be demolished, she thinks it is nice that a group of town residents are interested in putting that property to good use. This group is raising money and has come to several meetings to discuss their plans. After visiting other boat houses in other areas, she feels there will be an opportunity for many of our residents to enjoy this facility.
Supervisor Landry had an update on the SPRU cleanup after meeting with Steve Feinberg, the DOE representative on the cleanup at the KAPL site. He reports all the data collected during the incidents last fall has been turned over to the Department of Health. The Department of Health wants to set up independent monitoring equipment on the KAPL site so that equipment should be up soon at certain locations.
Supervisor Landry said he spoke with a representative from the Department of Health about the data collected and was told that their analysis of that data showed no public safety concerns. They were also confident there was no public safety hazard to the children playing baseball at Blatnick Park. They said they would consider the supervisor’s request to do random testing at the ball field.
The following resolutions were approved with a vote of five ayes unless otherwise noted.
Resolution 2011-85, authorizes modifications to the Town of Niskayuna purchasing policy.
Resolution 2011-86, makes certain budget modifications to the 2011 budget.
Resolution 2011-87, authorizes the hiring of a contractor to demolish the Aqueduct House.
Councilwoman Kasper votes for this with a heavy heart. She said she remembered when the town acquired this property in 1988 as the Allen House and did quite a bit of repair on the building even then. For a time it was the home of ECOS. However, through the years it fell into disrepair and became a money-pit. The building was not handicap accessible and uses were limited. She feels it’s unfortunate that it has to go but it is time to move on to something else whatever that will be. The first step is to clean up that area. She says that the park over the years has been very popular and that the town did acquire the land to the end where someone willed a house to the town which was torn down. Ultimately, she says, it is a beautiful area and she wants to see it remain a beautiful
Councilwoman McGraw agreed that it is with a heavy heart they tear down the Aqueduct House
Supervisor Landry clarified that the NYS Canal Corporation owns everything along the river. The town owns this piece of property that abuts the Canal Corp. property and are fortunate to get permits to use that park and have other people use that park.
Resolution 2011-88, employs additional persons in the Niskayuna Recreational Programs, Water and Sewer Department and the Highway Department.
Resolution 2011-89, appoints Massimo Ribeca to the position of van driver/program aide at the Senior Center at an hourly salary of $14.00.
Councilwoman Kasper explained that this person is a back-up bus driver in case of emergency. This person will also work when the regular driver is unavailable.
Resolution 2011-90, appoints Nancy Marcello of “Nancy’s Fancies”, an independent contractor, to provide services at the Niskayuna Senior Center.
Councilwoman Kasper said this is for jewelry making. Councilwoman McDonnell explained this is a way to keep costs in line since the town does not pay an hourly rate for a full time town employee. Instead the contractor is paid per student per class.
Resolution 2011-91, authorizes payment for outside pumping services by the Water and Sewer Department.
Resolution 2011-92, authorizes the issuance of a request for proposals for engineering services for a water main project at Carrie Court and Alexis Avenue.
Resolution 2011-93, authorizes the issuance of a request for proposals for engineering services for water main projects at Pearse Road and adjacent to Birchwood Elementary School.
Resolution 2011-94, authorizes the purchase of a flow meter for a pump station.
Resolution 2011-95, employs student workers in the Water and Sewer Department.
Councilwoman McGraw thanked Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water and Sewer and Rebecca Scanlon in Engineering for interviewing the candidates for these positions. There will be a number of mapping projects to work on and she is eager to see them get started.
Resolution 2011-96, authorizes the purchase of equipment to repair valves at certain pump stations.
Resolution 2011-97, declares May 1st to May 7th Drinking Water Week in the Town of Niskayuna.
Supervisor Landry thanked Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water and Sewer and Rebecca Scanlon for putting together the Annual Water Report that is being mailed with all water bills.
Before the close of the meeting, Councilwoman McGraw mentioned a resident pointed out that on the Open Stage Media website, it said the City of Schenectady was paying for Open Stage Media. She will call Philip Morris tomorrow at Proctors to let him know this should be changed since the Town of Niskayuna is a full partner.
There being no further business to come before the Town Board, Supervisor Landry adjourned the meeting.
Barbara A. Nottke, Deputy Town Clerk