We all know that the start of Spring is not synonymous with the end of Winter. And with last month’s blizzard as another reminder, I want to thank the Highway Department for its fine job of keeping our roads open regardless of the amounts and the duration of snow and ice.
Not to be overlooked is the clearing of snow from sidewalks by Town sidewalk plows operated by Parks Department employees Andrew Huggins and Jeffery Valletta who worked each day from Tuesday, the start of the blizzard, through the following Tuesday, including Saturday, to clear and re-clear miles of sidewalks. For sidewalks on Routes 20, 146 and 155, they had to return multiple times. NYS DOT snow trucks would first dump two or more lanes of plowed snow on the sidewalks, return at various times over the next day or so to clear more snow, and then “top off” snow banks, and finally remove melting snow that had slipped onto the highway. At various times, private contractors would clear parking lots and driveways and leave huge piles of snow on sidewalks. Each time, Andrew and Jeff were up to the task and cleared the sidewalks. The accompanying photo shows that even days after the blizzard, they were still dealing with the latest dumping of snow on a Route 20 sidewalk. To better handle the increasing task of snow blowing the Town’s growing pedestrian network, the Town has added more sidewalk plows to its fleet.
A quick reminder that most homes should have received the Town’s 2017 Summer Day Camp and Activity Camp Brochure in “backpack mail.” You can also access this information at www.guilderlandrec.com or pick up a copy at Town Hall, Parks Department, and local libraries. The Town’s Western Turnpike Golf Course will soon open for the 2017 season. Please call the Pro Shop at 456-0786 about memberships or to book a tee time.
The first of two Town Household Hazardous Waste Days will take place on Saturday, May 13th from 8:00am to 2:00pm at the Highway Department’s garage on French’s Mill Road. Due to last year’s record attendance and volume, you can pick up a resident’s pass at Town Hall, Transfer Station or Parks Department. Please also take time to review the list of acceptable items at the Transfer Station’s page on the Town website or by calling the Transfer Station at 861-6776.
On March 16th, I gave the “2017 State of the Town” address at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual breakfast. Here’s an abbreviated version. I noted that the 2017 budget reduces expenditures and the property tax levy, retires debt, and adds reserves. The Town’s property tax rate remains unchanged.
I provided a review of activities in 2016, including the launch of a new website (www.townofguilderland.org) and an expanded Nixle® service which provides free text and email notices of Town events and announcements. A new senior services center and a new pool house and “chalet” building at Tawasentha Park were opened. The Town adopted a new zoning code which expands uses for commercial properties, adds environmental protections for water resources, promotes green infrastructure and reduces light pollution, eliminates regulations for certain business uses and expansions, and cuts the approval process and time for most business uses.
To provide assistance with applying the new zoning code and address legacy zoning, the Town created a Land Use Review Committee to assist with rezoning applications and suggest necessary amendments to the Town code. Over the past year, the Town has received applications for significant commercial developments including a potential large manufacturing facility at the Industrial Park; proposed Concordia Senior Community, 2298-2316 Western Avenue (former Master Cleaners site); proposed Pine Bush Senior Living Center, 20 New Karner Road (opposite Post Office); proposed Cumberland Farms at the intersection of Routes 20 and 146, and proposed 200 room hotel at the Crossgates’ entrance. These applications are at various stages of the approval process.
Finally, I recently received the City of Watervliet's voluminous application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to re-license its hydroelectric project at the City-owned Watervliet Reservoir. The application is full of reports and tables about protecting aquatic habitats for the Largemouth Bass, Common Carp, Brook Trout and other types of fish, habitats for the Bald Eagle and Northern Long-eared Bat, safe passage of the American Eel, protecting water resources, and other important environmental concerns. The application is full of easily readable text about the Reservoir’s living environment and is available for download on the Supervisor’s page of the Town website.
Buried in the City’s application were NYS DEC’s comments that the City should consider allowing public access for fishing from non-gas powered hand launched boats and shoreline, and creating a trail system as a recreational opportunity for the community. In 2001, public access was blocked by a dirt berm and fishing was prohibited. We are working with DEC and the City to restore public access for fishing and linking future hiking trails to the Town’s planned trails on over one-hundred acres of nearby open space, with the goal of linking Tawasentha Park to the Reservoir by a trail over Town-owned property. In the coming months, I plan to provide updates on trail access and planning.
Thank you for taking time to read these notes. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me at Town Hall (356-1980).
Peter G. Barber, Town Supervisor