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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 6, 2005

GOP challenges Dems to debate

By Nicole Fay Barr

GUILDERLAND — Republicans and Democrats are having a debate — about whether the candidates for town board will publicly debate each other.

Ed Glenning, one of two Republican candidates for town board, wrote a letter to the Enterprise editor this week, inviting his Democratic opponents to a debate on Oct. 12.

He wrote that Guilderland’s Democratic Party chairman, David Bosworth, had earlier said that the Democrats would not debate. Bosworth is also a town board member, although he is not up for re-election this year. Some members of the Republican Party refer to him as "Boss Bosworth" and say that he controls the other board members.

"The voters must ask themselves the question, if Mr. Bosworth micro-manages his candidates this much during the campaign, how much micro-management will be done if they elect a Democratic candidate"" Glenning wrote.

He went on to say that the Republicans have reserved a room, for next Wednesday, at the Guilderland Public Library.

"We invite the Democratic candidates to be present and debate us in the spirit of open and equitable election practices," Glenning wrote.

Glenning and the other Republican candidate for town board, Michael Donegan, wrote a letter to the Enterprise editor in August, asking for a debate, but with no specific time and place. Democratic Supervisor Kenneth Runion, who is unopposed, said then that he couldn’t see why the Democratic candidates wouldn’t debate.

Tuesday, Bosworth responded through The Enterprise that, next Thursday, Oct. 13, the McKownville Improvement Association is holding a "Meet the Candidates" night, as it has the past several elections.

While this isn’t an official debate, Bosworth said, residents are given an opportunity to ask questions of all candidates who attend.

The Democrats aren’t opposed to a debate, he said, but, if invited to one, would need time to get organized and set rules both parties can agree on. He added that he doesn’t control any Democrats.

Bosworth went on that, at sundown on Oct. 12, Yom Kippur begins, which he called the holiest day in the Jewish year. It’s not appropriate to hold a debate then, he said.

Glenning responded that the Republicans have been trying to get the Democrats to debate for a while. Oct. 12 is the only day a room is available at the library, he said.

If Bosworth feels strongly about Yom Kippur, Glenning said, the Republicans will be happy to agree to a televised debate at Town Hall on a different day.

But, he said, "This is just another stall tactic." The Democrats know they’d lose a debate to the Republicans, so they are afraid, Glenning said.

"We’re out of time," Glenning said. "The election is Nov. 8. The residents deserve to hear from the candidates in a structured debate."

Earlier conflict

In the 2003 town election, a debate disagreement arose between Supervisor Runion and his opponent, Republican Anthony Esposito. A week before the election, Esposito sent a letter to The Enterprise, Runion, and 450 Guilderland residents demanding a debate.

Runion responded that there was a debate in McKownville the week before, but Esposito didn’t show up. Tony Cortes, the Republican party chair, was there, along with every town Republican candidate, Runion said at the time, except for Esposito.

Esposito countered that this was not a formal debate; it was simply a meet-the-candidates event organized by the McKownville Improvement Association.

Esposito said at the time that he knew it was too late in the race for a debate, but he sent the letter just to inform the public that he wanted one.

Guilderland candidates for supervisor and town board

By Nicole Fay Barr

GUILDERLAND — Four candidates — two Democrats and two Republicans — are running for two seats on the Guilderland Town Board. The two with the most votes on Nov. 8 win.

Democratic Supervisor Kenneth Runion is running for his fourth term, unopposed.

Also without challengers are the Democratic town clerk and receiver of taxes. The only other contested race is for town justice. (See related stories.)

Currently, the town supervisor, all four council members, the receiver of taxes, and the clerk are all Democrats. This is the fifth year that the town has been dominated by Democrats. For nearly 200 years, it was Republicans who controlled town government.

About a third of Guilderland voters are enrolled as Democrats, about a third as Republicans, and about a third are enrolled in small parties or not in any party.

In the proposed 2006 budget, the supervisor will earn $91,881. Town board members will make $19,281 each, if the budget passes.

The supervisor’s post carries a two-year term and board members run every four years.

The town board race has already seen controversy. In May, as the Republicans announced their candidates for town board, Democratic incumbent Bruce Sherwin told The Enterprise that, although he wanted to run for re-election, he was not being nominated by his party.

Sherwin said that, because of his independent voice on the board, he was ousted and branded disloyal by David Bosworth, the Democratic chairman and town board member.

Most of the time, the board’s members — all Democrats — vote unanimously. Sherwin has at times cast the only dissenting vote and, most of the time, is the only board member to draw heated discussion.

Sherwin described a time when Bosworth was challenged. Bosworth made a motion that no one seconded. Sherwin said that Bosworth then sent an e-mail to town board members, scolding them for embarrassing him.

"I may have commented once that I didn’t get a second," Bosworth told The Enterprise earlier in response. "It’s good parliamentary procedure...Without a second, you can’t have a lot of discussion. I thought I should get a courtesy second."

Bosworth also said then that he does not decide who the committee endorses. He is only one of 64 committeemen and one of 8,500 Democratic voters, he said.

The Democratic party later chose planning board attorney Paul Pastore to run in place of Sherwin, but, Bosworth said, this was the party’s decision.

Last month, more controversy arose since leaders of the Republican party had complained to Patricia Slavick’s employer that the Democratic incumbent was violating the Hatch Act by keeping her job and running for town board.

Slavick, an accountant, told The Enterprise that she’d done all she could to clear her candidacy with her supervisor at the state’s Office of Mental Health. The Hatch Act is a law that prohibits federal and certain state workers from running for an elected office.

When told just before the Democratic caucus in September that her job was in conflict, Slavick decided to quit, she said.

Still, Republican candidate Michael Donegan told The Enterprise that Slavick’s leaving her job wasn’t good enough. She violated the law for too long and she should drop out of the race, he said.

In the 2003 election, Republican Brian Hartson, upon hearing his job also violated the Hatch Act, ended his candidacy. Then, only one Republican ran for town board.

The Republican committee said this February that it had no real contenders for the election. So, it put an ad in The Enterprise. The ad asked anyone interested in running for supervisor, town board member, town judge, receiver of taxes, or town clerk to send a résumé to the committee.

Tony Cortes, the party’s chair, said then that the Republican committee will endorse residents from any political party.

"We want people who are open-minded, who are willing to negotiate with our political compromises," he said.

He said later that the Enterprise ad led to a training process that brought local Republicans to the committee to find out about elected positions.

Still, the party only found two candidates — Donegan and Ed Glenning.

The issues

The Enterprise interviewed the supervisor and town board candidates and asked their views on four issues:

— Raising the reservoir: The Watervliet Reservoir, located near the center of town, is Guilderland’s main source of drinking water. Residents remain concerned about water quality and supply, which is affected by Guilderland’s rapid growth.

The city of Watervliet, which owns the reservoir and sells water to Guilderland and other towns, plans to raise the level of the reservoir. This has some environmentalists worried about erosion and pollution.

— Industrial park plans: The privately-owned Northeastern Industrial Park — located on Route 146 in Guilderland Center

— has, this summer, after years of requests by the town, submitted a draft of its environmental-impact study for the town’s master plan.

The industrial park, which is on the site of a former Army depot in Guilderland Center, wants to build in two places that the Army has classified as Areas of Concern, or sites that were determined to be a risk to human health. This, too, worries environmentalists and residents.

— Planning and zoning: The town’s zoning law is at least 30 years old. Many residents and business owners have complained that the zoning law is outdated and needs to be revised.

Some have also said that the law is unfairly enforced, that citations are only given when neighbors complain of violations.

— One party in power: Residents, particularly members of the Republican party, have said that, with a Democratic supervisor and an all-Democrat town board, there is no give and take or discussion of other viewpoints.

Also, the GOP has asserted that Democratic party Chairman David Bosworth controls board members and, if they would disagree as Sherwin did, would be ousted.

TOWN SUPERVISOR — Kenneth Runion

Democratic Supervisor Kenneth Runion is running for his fourth two-year term, unopposed.

He’s proud that, under his administration, Tawasentha Park has been improved, the Western Turnpike Golf Course has been purchased, and that soccer fields at DiCaprio Park and baseball fields have been created.

Runion is also glad to have completed of the town’s comprehensive land-use plan and its rural Guilderland study, he said. Work is now beginning on a study for the Guilderland hamlet.

"Financially, the town is in great shape despite all the surprise things since 2001, including retirement costs increasing, health insurance costs increasing," Runion said. "We’ve been able to absorb all those without raising taxes.

Runion’s goals include continuing with planning and exploring more park and recreation opportunities, he said.

Guilderland must be very cautious in reviewing Watervliet’s plans to raise the level of the reservoir, Runion said. This is why the town hired an engineering firm, Barton & Loguidice, to study the plan more carefully, he said.

"We want to make sure there’s not any impacts," Runion said. "...We want to see if dredging is not a better alternative."

Although the city of Watervliet owns the reservoir, he said, "It’s within the town of Guilderland and we, as town residents and government, will feel whatever effects arise if Watervliet makes a mistake."

Runion went on, "We need to be very involved. It is a major portion of our water supply and we have to really safeguard the integrity of that."

He has concerns with the draft of the Northeastern Industrial Park’s environmental impact statement, he said, especially about traffic and environmental protection.

"The plan is not detailed enough," Runion said.

Asked about proposed building on Areas of Concern, he said, "They can’t build on Areas of Concern. We wouldn’t allow it; those areas have to be cleaned up first."

The industrial park would still need zoning-board approval before any new building would occur, he said.

One of Runion’s goals is to revise the town’s zoning law, he said.

"It’s due for a major update," he said.

Unfair zoning enforcement is not a problem, Runion said. In a town that is 58 square miles with 34,000 people and a limited number of town employees, he said, it’s easy for violations to be concealed from the town’s zoning-enforcement officer.

Sometimes, he said, the town relies on neighbors’ complaints about violations.

"The budget would be astronomical to hire the people necessary to keep track of that," he said.

Asked if having an all-Democrat board is a problem, Runion said, "The Republicans didn’t say that six years ago when there were all Republicans on the town board."

He went on, "When you look at it, we all live in the community. We all want to see the community prosper. Our interests are what’s best for the town and its residents. We leave our political affiliations at the Town Hall steps."

Bosworth does not control how other board members vote, Runion said. Different board members give different feedback on all kinds of issues, he said.

Runion pointed out a time when Bosworth made a motion and it was not seconded.

"To me, that’s an indication that he could not and does not have control," he said.

TOWN BOARD — Patricia Slavick

Democratic incumbent Patricia Slavick has been on the town board since 2000.

Slavick has accomplished much in her time on the board, she said. For residents’ quality of life, she said, she’s proud to have made improvements to Tawasentha Park; to have acquired the Western Turnpike Golf Course and soccer fields at DiCaprio Park; to have created a noise ordinance; and to have approved senior housing on Carman Road, Mill Hill, and Brandle Road.

In the area of public safety, Slavick said, the town has purchased an emergency-command vehicle and has expanded its emergency medical services.

Also, she said, the town’s traffic-safety and pathways committees were formed while she’s been on the board.

Slavick is proud to have overseen the upgrade to the town’s sewage-treatment plant and the addition of a new water town, she said.

She’s also been part of a board that completed a comprehensive plan, created a more open government, and eliminated tax increases, she said.

Her goals for the next four years include: conducting more studies for the comprehensive plan; seeing that water lines are looped for better quality and access; finding more grants for town projects; and getting more sidewalks in town, in accordance with a study made by the pathways committee.

Raising the level of the Watervliet Reservoir is a concern, which is why the town hired an engineering firm to study the proposal, Slavick said.

Flooding of nearby properties and soil erosion are just two areas that need to be examined, she said.

"We don’t own the reservoir, but it is in Guilderland and it will affect us," Slavick said.

The town will voice its concerns after it hears from the engineering firm, she said.

The draft of the Northeastern Industrial Park’s environmental impact statement has created a lot of questions that need to be answered, Slavick said.

"For instance," she said, "a big issue is the increase in traffic with trucks, not only on Route 146, but on Western Avenue and to the Thruway and Northway."

Noise, odors, and especially protecting the water supply should be studied so that nearby residents aren’t hurt by the industrial park’s expanding, Slavick said.

She is very concerned with proposals to build where toxic materials are buried, she said.

"A lot of questions have to be answered," she said. "There’s a lot of work to do, but this is a good start."

The zoning law is outdated and the town should review it, to see where it could be revised, Slavick said.

Some say that more commercial growth is needed, she said, but, when creating its comprehensive plan, the town heard from residents who said there is enough commercial development in Guilderland.

Slavick suggested the town study where it wants any further development, such as along Route 20, heading west.

"And, we’d have to make sure the services would be viable to the community and would create jobs," she said.

She doesn’t see a problem with zoning enforcement, Slavick said. Tickets are issued both after neighbors complain and by the zoning officer finding violations himself, she said.

Having an all-Democrat town board has also never been a problem, she said.

"We each have our area of expertise," Slavick said. "I’m the financial person on the board because of my background. I look at the budget reports every month, the transfers, the bids....We all work well together."

Asked if Bosworth controlled the board, Slavick said, "I have a master’s degree in accounting. I can make my own decisions after reading the reports. It’s not an issue. He’s never called to say, ‘You must vote like this.’"

She gave the same example Runion did, pointing out the time when Bosworth made a motion and no one seconded it.

"I’ve been on the board for five years," Slavick concluded. "It’s challenging — there’s always a lot to learn — and it’s rewarding — I’ve gotten to know how government operates at the town level."

Seeing children play at DiCaprio Park or senior citizens thrive at Omni Senior Living Center has been especially fulfilling, she said.

TOWN BOARD — Paul Pastore

Democrat Paul Pastore, who has been the town’s planning board attorney for six years, is making his first run for town board.

His experience with the planning board has helped him understand how the town is growing and what the current planning issues are, Pastore said.

"I have a significant amount of information and understanding that would serve me well in helping residents address issues that affect the town," he said. These issues include residential growth and balancing property-owners’ rights with public concerns of safety and well-being, he said.

The town’s comprehensive plan is an important tool for smart planning, Pastore said. Seeing prudent and responsible planning in several areas of town is one of his goals, he said.

Of raising the level of the reservoir, Pastore said, "It’s still in the process of meriting the pros and cons. We have to address those issues carefully."

The town was correct to hire an engineer to study the proposal, he said.

"It’s important for the town board to work closely to examine water quality and concerns of erosion," Pastore said.

"The water supply is imperative; it’s paramount," he said. "We don’t want to increase the reservoir if it’ll create sediments and erosion concerns. But, provided that it’s done in the most effective, safe, and productive way, it might be the best thing for the city and the town," he said of Watervliet and Guilderland.

The Northeastern Industrial Park still needs to address a number of concerns, from the draft of its environmental impact statement, Pastore said.

Before development occurs, it must be approved by the planning and zoning boards, he said. Those board members "take painstaking time and effort" to make sure the Black Creek is safe and other issues are resolved, he said.

"There’s not going to be any build-out until it meets the concerns and satisfactions of the board and independent engineers," Pastore said of the industrial park. "We don’t want uncontrolled growth at the expense of the water supply. There will be a great deal of planning."

Asked if there’s a need to revise the zoning law, Pastore said, "With any laws in effect, there’s a need to modify with changing times. But, many times, you certainly have a good core basis."

The current zoning law mostly works well, he said. Residents often have concerns about traffic, safety, and water issues, he said, but the law provides the zoning and planning boards with thorough opportunities to analyze these concerns.

Pastore praised the current boards for listening to public concerns. Especially the zoning board, he said, which often hears cases into the early morning hours.

Of zoning enforcement, Pastore said, "We have a zoning-code enforcement officer whose obligation is to reasonably, equitably, and fairly enforce the law."

Residents who have concerns about enforcement can go before the zoning board at any meeting, he said.

"In my current role, not as an elected, but as an appointed official, I’m particularly proud that town government is quite open and quite accessible," Pastore said.

"To the credit of our current supervisor, Ken Runion, a lot of action has been taken," he said, including public comment periods at every board meeting, televised meetings, and an updated town website.

Asked if all Democrats on the board is a problem, Pastore said, "It’s important, in any public position, that individuals in that capacity are qualified, competent, conscientious, and hard working...To suggest members of the town board are not competent or qualified or, in some way, their integrity is compromised because of being of one party is incorrect."

On the planning board, Pastore said he works with Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, and those in the Independence Party. But, he said, he looks not at their political affiliation but at their expertise.

The town board appointed these people, he said, instead of appointing all Democrats.

The current town board members, he said, "bring with them a diverse array of knowledge and experience."

For example, Pastore said, Slavick is the financial expert while Runion knows the law well.

"Although they are from the same party, there’s still a great deal of give and take. They speak from their own experiences," he said.

Of Bosworth controlling the board, Pastore said, "There’s no merit to that. If you review the meetings, there’s differing opinions and observations made. It’s not always a 5 to 0 vote."

He concluded, "To credit the current town supervisor and board members, they do their homework. Their decisions are informed, intelligent, and well reasoned....There’s no sense of control by one board member over anyone."

TOWN BOARD — Michael Donegan

Republican Michael Donegan decided to run for town board, he said, because he has "fresh ideas" and he wants "to open up the process of town government."

"I have leadership qualities and vision that can be brought to the board," he said. "That’s been extremely lacking for several years. It’s time for fresh blood."

Citizens should be better informed about what Guilderland officials are doing, Donegan said, and be given more opportunities to voice their opinions.

"I want to be proactive instead of reactive," he said.

Donegan gave two examples of times he felt the current town board has been reactive. First, he said, was in creating the plan for rural Guilderland.

"The first draft was a terrible document and, it wasn’t until citizens complained that it was redrafted into a workable document," he said.

The second example he gave was the town-wide property revaluation this year. The town does reassessment every few years because, without it, as newcomers move to a town, they pay taxes based on the price they paid for their property, while parcels that haven’t sold recently usually remain at a lower rate, skewing the tax rolls.

This year, however, residents were alarmed at the rate of increase to their assessments. Hundreds, many angry, contested their assessments and waited for several hours at Town Hall on Grievance Day.

"The town was not at all prepared for a very predictable response from taxpayers wanting to grieve," Donegan said.

The town’s decision last month to appoint extra members to the board of assessment review next year was a reactive move, he said.

"They always seem to be closing the barn door after the cow gets out," Donegan said.

He went on, "I want to create a dialogue with the community and the business leaders to see what we can do to have Guilderland-style growth in town."

The current board ignores business opportunities, Donegan said. "If we don’t balance the tax base, residential taxes are going to go up and up," he said.

He added that much work needs to be done to get sidewalk fragments connected and to make Guilderland more pedestrian-friendly.

Of raising the level of the Watervliet Reservoir, Donegan said, "We need to look at it very carefully on several levels."

The town needs to be vigilant on making sure the project won’t further contaminate the reservoir and that the nearby residents won’t be adversely affected, he said.

"We have the avenues open to protect the residents of Guilderland," he said.

Looping pipes to bring water to residents in western Guilderland is a big issue that will come up in the future, Donegan said. It needs to be studied carefully, he said.

"Are we going to take a fair look at the multiple options or are officials going to decide behind closed doors"" he asked.

Donegan has read through two-thirds of the Northeastern Industrial Park’s three-inch thick environmental impact draft, he said.

"I’ve been reading for years about a potential contamination problem and I wonder: Why hasn’t more been done to address these concerns before"" Donegan asked.

Town officials should have looked at these issues long ago, he said, not just now when the industrial park wants to expand.

The town board should also be putting more pressure on the federal government to clean up the contamination from the old Army depot, he said.

"The town sits on their hands and, if it comes up, will deal with it," Donegan said. "That’s not a good way to govern. Citizens are electing us because we have something to offer besides nodding our heads and smiling. We should use our talents and intelligence to make residents’ lives better."

Donegan agreed that the town’s zoning law should be revised.

"So much has happened over the past several years with the desire to develop that we’re not really prepared to deal with that," he said.

Bringing the zoning law "up to speed" needs to be a priority of the town board as development continues, he said.

"It’s to protect the look and culture of the town for generations to come," Donegan said. "If we don’t have stewards of public interest on the town board, it’s a problem."

Many business owners have told Donegan that they’ve had trouble getting zoning-board approval for various things, because the law is not clear, he said.

Donegan has heard of residents being upset that the zoning law is unfairly enforced, but hasn’t experienced it himself, he said.

"I understand the need for the zoning law but, in any kind of governance, you need a certain amount of discretion," he said. Parts of the current law, he said, "have no rhyme or reason or sense of equity or justice."

Having all Democrats on the town board is "a huge problem and people have experienced it," Donegan said.

"The local Democratic party really has a stranglehold on this town board," he said, adding that Bosworth has too much control over the board members.

"I’d propose to modify the town ethics law," Donegan said, so that someone is not allowed to be both party chair and board member. "You look at what happened to Bruce Sherwin. He had party problems, not problems as an elected official. But, he was taken right out of the equation."

Donegan concluded that, with his vision, the town’s master plan would be used to the advantage of residents.

"We’re shaping the face of the town for generations to come and we want to make sure we take the best interest of the taxpayers seriously," Donegan said. "Not too many people say the town board does that now."

TOWN BOARD — Ed Glenning

Republican Ed Glenning is making his first run for public office.

"I have a vision for a better Guilderland that has lower taxes and better services," he said. "We need to have more proactive leadership."

He decided to run for town board after seeing the Republicans’ ad in The Enterprise, he said.

"I felt I had the skills and the leadership," Glenning said. "And, I did not agree with a lot of the decisions made by the current town board."

When asked to elaborate on those decisions, Glenning said, "We need to have a better balance to the Guilderland economy. The way I see the town developing, there’s a lot of residential growth and I don’t see a lot of corresponding, commercial services."

Walking the streets of Westmere, he said, "There’s not a decent place to get a cup of coffee. There’s no Starbucks. There’s no services that create walkable neighborhoods."

Glenning also said that most of the sidewalks on Carman Road and in other places don’t connect. The town should work to do something about this, he said.

Guilderland is not a business-friendly town, he said. He encouraged residents to watch the zoning-board meetings on cable television and draw their own conclusions.

Business owners in town have told him they were given a hard time by the zoning board about the size of their signs, Glenning said. The town should be more concerned with the "For Sale" and "For Lease" signs on Western Avenue than the size of businesses’ signs, he said.

The town’s comprehensive plan was adopted in 2001, but the town board has yet to codify most of its tenets into the law.

"If we don’t start acting on the plan, it’s going to become obsolete and a waste of the taxpayers’ money," Glenning said.

"We need to have representation on the town board that, when they spend the taxpayer dollar, they spend it with the same frugality as they do their own money," he said.

Of water quality and quantity in Guilderland, Glenning said, "It’s highly ironic that citizens of this town who are closest to the water supply are depending on age-old methods to get drinking water. That’s gone on too long."

Much of the developed, eastern end of town has municipal water while the rural, western part of Guilderland does not.

Glenning suggested that residents in the western part of town do not have water so development can be controlled.

"These citizens shouldn’t have to suffer," he said.

There must be an effective way to raise the level of the Watervliet Reservoir and protect the water supply, Glenning said.

"I’ve heard a lot of different opinions on how to best protect the watershed area," he said. "....One of the things I depend on is the trusted, valued opinions of experts on certain matters."

In the United States of America, he said, other reservoirs have faced the same issue and we can learn lessons from them. So far, he said, no one in Guilderland has shown the leadership to find a solution to protect the water supply and create a safe plan to raise the water level at the same time.

Asked how much the town should be involved in this, since the reservoir is owned by the city of Watervliet, Glenning said, "In the private sector, when we want to have successful business, the main focus is customer delight....We’re the big customer; we should have a voice."

Glenning has skimmed the draft of the Northeastern Industrial Park’s environmental impact statement and he plans on studying the whole document, he said.

The industrial park should be held accountable for its actions, he said. A compromise could be reached between the industrial park’s desire for further development and neighboring residents’ wanting to protect themselves and the environment, he said.

"We’re all intelligent people here," Glenning said. "If we look at what’s good for the community, we can come to a conclusion."

Asked about the industrial park’s wanting to build on Areas of Concern, he said, "We should hear the voice of the citizens in that area of town. It’s in their backyard; let’s hear what they have to say."

Contaminated land should be cleaned up, he said, and residents should be protected.

Asked if he thinks zoning-law enforcement is a problem, Glenning said, "It’s an area we can do better. If you’re going to have a law in the United States of America, it needs to be applied without bias and discrimination."

He went on that the town has to do a better job of listening to the residents. When Walgreens came before the zoning board with plans to build on Western Avenue, many residents were upset about traffic and other issues, he said.

The zoning-board members didn’t, but should have, asked of those residents, "What will make this work for you"" Glenning said. "That’s proactive; we’ll do that if I’m elected."

Also, he said, the Guilderland Pathways Committee created a great plan for sidewalks and bike paths in the Fort Hunter area. But, the committee didn’t talk to the people who live there, he said, and many were upset after the plan came out that bike trails were proposed to run through their backyards.

Of the town board currently being all Democrats, Glenning said it should more balanced.

"It’s not like the legislative or executive branch of government where there’s checks and balances," he said. "The town board is one governing body that controls the town."

The diversity between Republicans, Democrats, and independents is important, he said.

Having the Democratic party chairman on the town board is dangerous, Glenning said.

"There’s issues of power and corruption," he said. "Look what they did to Bruce Sherwin. You have a guy that wants to be an independent voice and you have a chairman that says, ‘You do it my way or you’re out on the highway.’

"The voters really need to understand that happened and take it with them when they go to the polls," he said. "If you didn’t get a fair Grievance Day this spring, you can have it on Nov. 8."

Cataldo, Centi unopposed

By Nicole Fay Barr

GUILDERLAND — Besides the supervisor, two other Democrats are unchallenged in this election — the town clerk and the receiver of taxes.

TOWN CLERK — Rosemary Centi

Democrat Rosemary Centi is proud of her accomplishments as town clerk and is running for another two-year term unopposed.

She has held the job since 2000 and, in 2003, also was unopposed. According to the proposed budget, the clerk will earn $47,412 in 2006.

One of Centi’s duties is licensing, from marriage to peddling to handicapped parking to dogs to hunting and fishing.

Centi is also the town’s records management officer. That is, she files copies of all town documents. Other responsibilities of the town clerk are organizing the election process and drafting budgets, bonds, and bids.

Centi could not be reached for an interview this week, but she told The Enterprise earlier that she has more she’d like to accomplish for the town.

"I want to get more of our minutes on disc form so they’re more accessible for me to retrieve," she said.

Centi is also closely following the Help America Vote Act, which requires municipalities to use new voting machines.

"I’m pulling every article on that," she said.

She also has been going through the certification process to become a passport agent and she expects to begin issuing passports this fall, she said.

Centi was appointed as town clerk in August of 2000 and was then elected in 2001.

"I want to continue providing an open, accessible, and responsible office," Centi said earlier. "I feel I’ve done a good job. I feel I’ve been pretty open with everybody who has had requests."

Centi grew up in Schenectady. She earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Siena College. Centi was a Spanish teacher who later worked as a substitute teacher for several schools.

Centi has lived in Guilderland with her husband, Daniel, for almost 20 years. They have three children: Daniel Jr., 25; Justin, 22; and Jacqueline, 19.


Democrat Jean Cataldo loves her job as the town’s receiver of taxes. She is constantly working to make things more convenient for residents, she said. She is running for another four-year term unopposed.

In 2006 budget, it states the receiver of taxes will be paid $47,412.

In the past three years, Cataldo has put town tax information on-line.

"People really like that and it cut down a lot of the calls that we get," she said.

Not only do residents find it convenient to find their tax information on the Internet, but, Cataldo said, real-estate agents, attorneys, and bank workers also find it convenient.

When residents refinance their homes, for example, tax information is constantly changing, Cataldo said. With the data frequently updated online and residents having 24-hour access, it’s more efficient, she said.

Since Cataldo’s been in office, she said, a secure box has been installed near the front door at Town Hall. Now, residents can leave their payments after hours, as late as 9 a.m. past the deadline day, and not be charged a penalty, she said.

While the town had long accepted tax payments by Discover card, Cataldo convinced the town board this year to accept both Visa and Mastercard, she said. Now, on the website, www.townsoft.com, residents can pay their bills.

A fee is added to these payments, she said, but many residents still prefer to pay this way.

"I’m very excited about offering that," she said.

Cataldo also collects water payments and issues water and sewer permits. This is regulated through the town’s Department of Water and Wastewater Management, she said.

"We do a lot of bookkeeping behind the scenes," Cataldo said of she and her two staff members. "I love spreadsheets and I like to log everything and keep perfect records. I’m trying to get them to have the love of spreadsheets that I have."

Her job is sometimes difficult, Cataldo said, because she has to follow state laws, some that she doesn’t agree with. Residents often assume she can make decisions, but, she said, she can only follow the law.

"People like to pay taxes in person to tell me what they think," Cataldo said. "That’s okay. I feel that’s part of my job."

Still, she said, there’s not much she can tell an angry resident.

"I do not set any of the rates. My role as the receiver of taxes is simply that — to receive. I don’t influence the tax roll," she said.

Running unopposed has its advantages, Cataldo said. With September and October being the busiest time of year in her office, little time is left for campaigning, she said.

During her last election, Cataldo was dedicated to double- and triple-checking all the information that came through her office. She came to work early in the morning, she said, and campaigned door-to-door in the evenings. Then, she said, she’d go back to the office and work "as late as I could stand it."

This year, Cataldo said, she has much more experience. Although she’s unopposed, she still loves to go door-to-door and talk to residents.

"In my job, I have a lot of interaction with town residents," she said. "That’s just great. I love that."

Cataldo has been the town’s receiver of taxes since 2000. Before that, she worked as an administrative assistant for Marriott and as a customer-service representative for Crossgates Mall.

Cataldo, 49, grew up in Albany and attended business school. She has two sons, Michael, 22, and Stephen, 20.

Simon, Randall vie for judge

By Nicole Fay Barr

GUILDERLAND — Long-time Republican Judge Steven J. Simon is being challenged by Democrat Denise Randall, an assistant town attorney.

Simon says his experience is why he should be re-elected, while Randall says that, as the court’s prosecutor, becoming judge would be a natural progression for her.

Randall is also running on the Independence and Conservative lines. While Simon was backed by the Conservative party in last month’s primary, Randall won the line, 68 to 63, according to official results posted this week by the Albany County Board of Elections.

Guilderland has two town judges who each serve four-year terms. In 2003, John Bailey was the first Democrat ever to be elected judge in Guilderland. He replaced long-time Republican Judge Kenneth Riddett, who retired.

While Guilderland politics were dominated by Republicans for two centuries, all elected, save Simon and long-time highway superintendent Todd Gifford, are now Democrats.

In the proposed budget for 2006, Guilderland’s two town judges will earn $36,822 each for their part-time posts.

Steven J. Simon

Republican Steven J. Simon has been Guilderland’s town justice for 25 years. In that time, he said, "I’ve managed to have a court that’s fair to everybody concerned. We’ve done a good job."

Simon treats each case individually and with objectivity, he said.

A good judge keeps himself from getting emotionally involved in cases, Simon said. This way, he said, a judge can carry out the law as it is written.

"It’s difficult if you don’t have that kind of temperament," Simon said. "But, my experience and record indicates that I have those qualities."

He went on of the qualities a good judge possesses, "You have to be decisive and have the ability to listen to both sides. You deal with people from all walks of life."

Town court is more personal than higher courts, Simon said, because many defendants are not represented by attorneys.

"You have to look at each case and decide what the best deposition might be, whether it’s jail, a fine, community service, or rehab," he said.

The cases that come before him are more serious than they were 25 years ago, Simon said. When he first became a Guilderland Town Court judge, he said, he mostly saw minor misdemeanor charges or traffic violations.

Also, he said, with Crossgates Mall, the volume of cases has greatly increased. Dozens are arrested each week for shoplifting and other offenses.

"We handle it the best we can," Simon said. "Any local court would like to have more personnel, more judges and DA’s," he said of assistant district attorneys, "but it’s a money problem....With our resources, we do an effective job."

Asked about his goals for the next four years, Simon said, "Keeping the court as effective and open as possible. To have a court the people of Guilderland can be proud of and can feel comfortable with."

Simon, 63, has had a private law practice in Albany for 33 years. He graduated from Union College and Albany Law School. He also served as an officer in the United States Navy for three-and-a-half years.

He and his wife, Judy, a fifth-grade teacher at Westmere Elementary School, have lived in Guilderland since 1967.

Simon concluded that his experience is why voters should elect him.

"Not many judges have been here as long as I have," he said. "Everyone who comes to court has some sort of problem. I know the history."

Denise Randall

Democrat Denise Randall has been the prosecutor in Guilderland Town Court for almost six years. Running for judge, she said, "is a natural progression from what I’m doing now. It’s the next obvious step."

As the prosecutor in town court, Randall has always advocated alternative sentencing to first-time, non-violent offenders who are in their teens or early 20’s, she said.

Community service and related sentencing has proven to be a more effective deterrent than fines, she said. In six years, she said, only one person who was sentenced to community service has repeated his offense.

"I can’t tell you the number of them that sat there and said to me, ‘How about I pay double the fine and not have community service"’" Randall said. "I get the signal that this young person thinks he can buy his way out of trouble, that he can throw money at the situation.

"He has got to realize that, if he commits a crime, even a violation, it’s still an offense against the community," she said.

Young adults can be changed to move their lives in the right direction, Randall said.

"You treat them the way you’d treat your own children," she said. "You should teach them that there are consequences, but you don’t want to ruin the rest of their lives."

A judge should focus on each case individually, she said, giving it his or her unbiased attention.

"Everyone should be presumed innocent, every single time," she said.

Asked if it will be difficult to decide how to sentence people, Randall said it wouldn’t. A judge tries to find the truth, she said. When the truth is a person committed a certain crime, she said, the law is clear about what sentences should apply.

Town court could be more efficient, Randall went on.

"We have to be open to new technology," she said.

Also, she said, court often runs until after 10 p.m., she said. She suggested Guilderland consider starting court earlier than 7 p.m. or holding another session early in the morning, for those who work at night.

Currently, town court is held two nights a week.

"We have to create efficiencies and not compromise justice," Randall said.

Randall has been practicing law for 28 years. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College and Albany Law School. She has worked for the city of Albany and for State Attorney General’s Office.

She currently has a private practice on Western Avenue with her husband, Robert, and is an adjunct professor of business law at The College of Saint Rose.

Randall and her husband have a daughter, Griffan, 19, and a son, Jordan, 15.

"It’s important for people to know that I do live here and I work here; I do volunteer work here....I’m very much a part of Guilderland," she concluded. "I know the pressures of raising children in Guilderland...I know about the rising gang influence in the schools and I know what Crossgates looks like from a parent’s perspective."

Woman assaults cop at mall

By Nicole Fay Barr

GUILDERLAND — A 22-year-old woman was arrested Sunday after, police say, she refused to leave Crossgates Mall and punched and bit a police officer.

Cashaunna Tekia McGill, of 260 North Pearl St., Albany, was charged with: two counts of second-degree assault, a felony; resisting arrest and criminal trespass, both misdemeanors; and disorderly conduct, a violation.

Guilderland Police say that, on Sunday at around 6:40 p.m., they were called because McGill and Jamell Gray, who was with her, were not cooperating with the mall’s escort policy.

Crossgates Mall has a policy that, on Fridays and Saturdays after 4 p.m., those under 18 must be accompanied to the mall by a parent. Anyone who looks under 18 must show identification before entering the mall.

Police say that McGill and Gray refused to show their identification and refused to leave when requested. When an officer arrived, McGill punched him in the side of the face and then bit his arm, causing him to bleed, police say.

McGill was then taken to St. Peter’s Hospital for evaluation and later arraigned and sent to Albany County’s jail, police say.

Gray, 25, and another woman, Sarah LaFond, 25, both interfered with McGill’s arrest, police say.

Gray was charged with criminal trespass, a misdemeanor. Gray and LaFond were also arrested for obstruction of governmental administration, a misdemeanor, and disorderly conduct, a violation.

Army depot to become town park"

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Will what is left of the Army depot become a town park"

Supervisor Kenneth Runion told The Enterprise this week that he met last Thursday with representatives of the federal government's property disposal division and concluded, "We may be on a course to use that property as a park. It will add a different dimension to our park system."

Runion envisions the three ponds on the 36 acres on Depot Road being stocked with fish for catch-and-release fishing; the paved pathways, already with lighting, used for evening strolls or Rollerblading; and the adjacent wetlands used as a wildlife refuge.

"I’m getting ready to send them a letter of intent, expressing our interest," said Runion. He said the federal government’s process of disposing of the property would take about a year as would the town of Guilderland's review process for such a project.

The largest hurdle to the park project may be cleanup.

The idea of making the remaining federal land into a town park was broached about a year ago by Thadeus Ausfeld who co-chairs the Army Corps of Engineers’ Restoration Advisory Board, charged with advising on the cleanup of the depot.

Ausfeld maintained that industrial development on the site would disturb the soil; the town, he said, would be in a better position to prevent any danger to residents if it acquired the land from the federal government and made it into a park.

Runion was supportive, too, when The Enterprise asked him about the park idea last December.

"It would be more in conformance with our comprehensive plan than industrial use," Runion said at the time. He said he would like the town to secure the land to develop for recreational use, which he said is important for the quality of life in a community.

Contaminated soil

The depot, built in the 1940’s, once covered 650 acres in Guilderland and New Scotland; most of the rest has been sold to the Northeastern Industrial Park. The 35.5 acres on Route 201, Depot Road, have been used to store strategic defense materials such as aluminum, copper, lead, and zinc, which have contaminated the soil.

The site has been designated an Area of Concern, meaning it poses a threat to human health.

A report prepared several years ago by Parsons Engineering Science Inc. shows soils at all test locations at the stockpile site exceeded state soil criteria.

Thirty of the 95 cases where soil contamination exceeded more than twice background range were clustered in the northern half of the property, which is the side closer to Guilderland Center.

This summer, The Enterprise toured the site with three federal officials.

The fenced stockpile site has a circular roadway; materials had been stored inside the loop. Outside of the roadway — an area that accounts for about 15 to 20 percent of the 36 acres — no materials had been stored, the officials said.

Retention ponds were built in the outlying areas three years ago to control stormwater runoff, which could potentially contain contaminated soils, said Kevin Reilly, director of environmental management and safety for the Defense National Stockpile Center. Last December, Reilly said mud from the retention ponds would have to be removed to clean the site.

Reilly said this summer that the site has "elevated levels of lead, copper, zinc, and chromium," but he also said, "We have to do what's sensible and cost effective...The numbers I see in the soil are not devastatingly high...Twice background doesn’t necessarily make it bad."

Reilly also said, "Soil removal sounds unattainable." He explained that, in addition to the cost of removing the soil, since the land would then be lower, new soil to cover acres would have to be trucked in to replace it.

Cleaning the site to a level suitable for park use would be very expensive, said Reilly this summer. "They’re talking about a child sitting in the sand, eating dirt," he said. "It sets up a worst-case scenario for risk assessment...Think of the money taxpayers would have to pay."

Asked the approximate cost, Reilly replied, "It could be a phenomenal number."

This week, Reilly told The Enterprise that he was pleased to hear Guilderland’s supervisor was interested in making the site into a park. He said a year to do the transfer was optimistic but added, "I think it’s nice to have a goal to work towards."

"I’ve not had the chance to sit down with the state of New York and Department of Health to know what plan would help us get there," he said. "Obviously we’ll have to do additional sampling."

He said the samples would be of water.

Asked about what he had earlier called the "phenomenal" cost of shipping out contaminated soils, Reilly said, "A lot of times, cover works, putting soil on top of it....You wouldn’t be able to grow grass there without soil anyway."

He went on, "We may be able to scrape up some of the stuff and put it in a mound and only cover the mound."

About the cost of clean-up, Reilly said, "How much will be the feds and how much will be the town remains to be decided...Basically, it comes down to a question of how clean is clean."

He said the retention ponds would definitely stay; they will not be drained and dried with the mud shipped out. The ponds are useful, Reilly said, in cleaning off-site pollutants, such as road salt. He did say, "It may take additional dredging to clean out the bottom stuff; there may be future pond maintenance."

Currently, he said, the stockpile center is working with New York State to see if it still needs to maintain a SPEDES (State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit.

Cleanup will take place under the supervision of the state's departments of health and environmental conservation.

Gabrielle Done, a spokesperson with the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, told The Enterprise in August that the standard to which the site is cleaned will depend on its future use.

Soils at the site have been contaminated with copper, chromium, lead, and zinc, she said. "Groundwater off-site does not appear to have been impacted," Done said.

She said of the DEC, "We’ll work to insure remediation is completely protective of human health and the environment."

Asked if this would involve removing the contaminated soil, Done said, "There needs to be more investigation. The final cleanup will depend on the end use."

The closing of the local center reflects a change in national defense strategy. Depots are being phased out throughout the country and the Defense National Stockpile Center, which used to oversee 100 locations, will itself be phased out by 2007, the federal officials said.

"Since the Cold War is over," said Reilly this summer, "we’re using the world market to meet our needs."

In August, only ferrochrome — an alloy forged of chromium and iron, used in making stainless steel — remained at the stockpile center in Guilderland.

The ferrochrome is still there, Dennis Wesolowski, distribution facilities manager for the Defense National Stockpile Center, told The Enterprise this week. He had said this summer that, if the ferrochrome wasn’t sold, it would be moved to a nearby stockpile center in Scotia.

Wesolowski, who was at last Thursday’s meeting with Runion, said, "I’ve been a facilitator." But he stressed that the Defense National Stockpile Center was a " tenant" at the depot — the 36 acres belong to the federal General Services Administration. He referred The Enterprise to Justin Hollander at the GSA.

Hollander, who attended last Thursday’s meeting, declined comment, referring The Enterprise to the GSA’s public affairs department, which was unable to answer questions before deadline.

No radiation leaks

The Enterprise this week asked Runion if he were concerned about toxins left on the site. "They’ll be going through that with the Department of Environmental Conservation," he said. "Part of the process is checking the retention ponds to see what’s there."

He also said, "It’s my understanding that the stockpile materials were all in barrels and there were no fuels or combustible materials stored on site."

While ores, such as the tons of ferrochrome The Enterprise observed this summer, were stored at the site without being in containers, radioactive materials stored there were contained in drums, according to both Reilly and Peter Sneed, with the General Services Administration.

From 1988 to 1990, low-level radioactive materials (columbium/tantalum) were stored in 55-gallon drums at the site, which were since removed. At that time, the agency had a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

"There had been low-level radiation material stored there," Sneed told The Enterprise earlier. "There were no leakages. It wasn’t a problem."

Runion’s plans

Runion described the process which the town would use to acquire the 36 acres for a park.

After the Defense National Stockpile Center tells the federal government it no longer has a use for the property, it is offered to other federal agencies, Runion said.

"There’s not a good likelihood they would want it," he said. "It’s then offered to HUD," he said of Housing and Urban Development, "to see if it would work for a homeless shelter."

That use, too, is unlikely, Runion said, because of its location near an industrial park and because it’s not on a bus route.

It’s then offered to local governments, he said. "Basically, the town would own it for a dollar if it is to be used as a park or a wildlife preserve."

Runion would like to see the 36 acres used as a combination of the two.

"Parks and recreational facilities are the cornerstone of developing a quality community," said Runion. "Guilderland has been very progressive on recreational activities for all its residents."

The town already offers a swimming pool, a climbing barn, gardens, hiking and skiing trails, ice-skating, sledding slopes, and playing fields in its parks.

During Runion’s tenure, the town has added a golf course and more soccer and baseball fields as well as a dog park.

The Depot Road property would add fishing, Runion said, as well as paved pathways for Rollerblading, and lighted areas for evening recreation.

There would be other benefits as well, Runion said. "They’ve done decent work with outfalls for drainage that we can build on and improve," he said.

Runion also referred to wetlands in the area and working with the owners of the Northeastern Industrial Park. "People here say we ought to get into a dialogue with the Galesi Group," said Runion. "They have no use for wetlands...We could use them for wildlife and a model for education."

Bikers support the troops — Big Bird leads the way

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — As the war drags on in Iraq, Richard Perras worries people are forgetting about Americans serving there.

"Everybody’s forgotten about our troops," he said. "When the war started, it was all over TV. After a while, when you tuned in, all you’d hear about was Michael Jackson and crap like that....

"Now, everybody’s sending stuff to help Katrina victims and they’ve forgotten about our troops that are fighting for us."

Darlene Stanton hasn’t forgotten. She continues to spearhead a group from Altamont’s Veterans of Foreign Wars that sends care packages to local soldiers serving overseas.

"She works really hard at it; she just never stops," said Perras.

This weekend, Perras will lead a motorcycle tour to raise funds to send more care packages to Iraq.

When the war first started three years ago, Perras, who is a first lieutenant in Altamont’s rescue squad and had served as captain, said the squad gathered goods for Stanton’s group to send to Ed Person’s squadron. Person grew up in town.

Perras’s cousin, Ryan Quay of Knox, was serving in Iraq at the start of the war, too, he said.

Perras was never in the military himself, but his father, the late Armand Perras, served in the Navy on a destroyer during World War II.

"I’m a son of the American Legion," he said.

After the war, his father worked for the state, designing railroad bridges.

"He used to ride, too," said Perras, who grew up in Voorheesville. The love of motorcycles was passed from father to son.

Easy rider

Perras is a big man with an easy-going manner.

"I just love ridin’," he said. "I just enjoy the ride — being there, the wind blowing in your hair."

He’s nonchalant about the dangers that come with his chosen sport. "I’ve crashed a few times," he said. "That’s just part of it. In ’77, I broke my back and cracked my skull. I was in a coma for three weeks."

Once he recovered, he was on his bike again.

His wife sometimes rides on the back of his bike, although she’s an equestrian. "That’s her horsepower," quipped Perras.

The Perrases have two daughters, ages 16 and 19, and they’d both like to ride motorcycles, their father said.

"They both want their licenses," said Perras. "They’re going to have to save their money."

He said he hasn’t banned them from the sport for fear of injury.

"It’s always dangerous," he said. "Nine times out of 10, accidents are caused by someone in a car, cutting you off."

He always drives the speed limit, said Perras, and, when he leads a group, as he will on the Columbus Day fund-raiser, he makes sure everyone in the group follows the rules of the road. The bikers don’t stop to drink at bars, he said.

Perras doesn't sweat the details. If you ask his age, he answers 46 or 47.

The same with organizing his fall foliage drive. "A bunch of guys get together at Stewart’s in Altamont every Columbus Day," he said. Last year, he said, 75 bikers showed up.

"Any biker that wants to ride can come with us," he said. Perras has plotted a 120-mile drive through the scenic countryside that will start in Altamont the morning of Sunday, Oct. 9, at 9:45.

"Or thereabouts," said Perras. "I’m not a real stickler for details."

It will end at Jonathan’s Restaurant in Duanesburg.

"If it rains on Sunday, we’ll go on Monday," said Perras. "If it rains on Monday, it’s canceled for the year."

There’s no signing up ahead nor any registration on the day of the ride. "Just show up," said Perras.

The charge is 10 dollars per bike and all of that money will go to Darlene Stanton’s drive to send care packages to Iraq. This is the first year Perras has used the annual Columbus Day ride as a fund-raiser.

Perras will be riding his 2001 Honda Valkrie, a machine with so much shining chrome that, on a bright day, you need sunglasses to look at it without squinting. It replaces a ’78 Goldwing that Perras had for 18 years and loved but had to retire with 76,000 miles on it.

The new motorcycle cost him $12,000 three years ago when it was new, he said.

On the back of his Valkrie is a small, stuffed Sesame Street character, a bright yellow Big Bird. That’s Perras’s biker name — Big Bird.

He got the moniker years ago. "I go to Laconia, New Hampshire each year," Perras said. One year, he was dressed all in yellow rain gear. Someone said he looked like Big Bird and the name stuck.

"The thing is," said Perras, aka Big Bird, "we have fun."

Upscale homes planned for Chalet land

By Jo E. Prout

GUILDERLAND — The planning board last week gave concept approval to a unique application that will allow residential building in a local business zone.

Bryan Smith of Bryland Homes wants to create four lots on the 3.85 acres that house the Bavarian Chalet complex on Frenchs Mill Road. An existing home is on the property, which is owned by the family of Franz Zwicklbauer.

Town Planner Jan Weston recommended, in a memo to the planning board, that the property be rezoned from local business to residential. If the project received final approval as presented, she wrote, the board would create four commercial lots.

"I’ve never seen it," said Chairman Stephen Feeney. "It’s somewhat unique."

Zwicklbauer told the board that the property had been zoned for business when his mother’s nearby house was built and when his was, also.

"Do you have a problem having it rezoned"" said board member Michael Cleary.

"Time," Zwicklbauer said.

Land surveyor Sang Y. Kim, of Latham, said that Smith would prefer deed restrictions requiring the new owners to obtain special-use permits for businesses, rather than rezoning.

He told the board that owners with professional licensing may wish to open for business on the new lots, which would have homes costing above $500,000.

Smith said he also preferred deed restrictions to what he called spot-zoning.

"It’s a little bit strange," said Chairman Feeney. Local business zones exist for older homes in areas that became developed, he said. Residential subdivisions are not the purpose of local business zoning, he said.

Two of the lots are keyhole lots, and the board suggested that Smith create access to them according to town standards, which would allow a shared curb cut or a cul-de-sac.

The board asked for more information about the project, including topography maps, wetland maps, and the angle of repose for each site.

The keyhole provision is not intended to give owners more lots in a subdivision, Feeney said.

"I’m not saying you have to create a cul de sac. I don’t care what kind of houses you put in there"That’s your choice. It’s irrelevant. It would make more sense to be rezoned residentially, rather than deed-restricted," Feeney said.

Bryan Smith’s father, Bob Smith, is a Realtor who is representing Zwicklbauer. Bob Smith told the board that he did not find a cul-de-sac rule in the town subdivision regulations.

"This is not rocket-scientist"science," Smith said. "Just use common sense." Smith said that a delay in time costs money.

The board said that a 60-foot right-of-way is required for access to the lots, and it suggested that the plan show a driveway off nearby Hillshire Drive, a private road also owned by Bryan Smith.

"We don’t have a problem with three lots," Feeney said, but he said that, after more detail is provided, the plan may not end up with three lots.

Trouble and confusion

Marty Kehoe and his wife asked the board to review their site plan, which had been scratched off the printed agenda. The board listened as the Kehoes explained that they want to add on to one of the apartments they own at 2009 Western Ave., and also add another apartment unit.

Kehoe practices law out of a downstairs unit. The two apartment buildings there currently were built by Kehoe’s grandfather, he said.

Kehoe said that the application may be complicated by a pre-existing non-conforming use.

Weston did not attend the board meeting because of a family emergency, but she rushed in to the meeting after watching on live television the board discussion of the Kehoe application. She said that the town zoning officer Donald Cropsey did not realize the Kehoes wanted to add an apartment when the item was first put on the agenda.

"Mr. Cropsey specifically asked us to take it off the agenda," Weston said. "It will be an expansion of a non-conforming use."

The board asked the Kehoes to work out their application with Cropsey before returning to the planning board.

"Thanks for coming, Jan," board members said.

Other business — In other business, the planning board:

— Approved a site plan to allow a hearing aid and repair business at 1855 Western Avenue. The application was requested by Robert Bourgeois;

— Approved a site plan for Nuri Ozbay to reconstruct a former Sunoco gas station at 1611 Western Ave. Ozbay’s relative owns a nearby station. The board asked Ozbay to add shielded or recessed lighting and to increase the landscaping, if possible. Sang Y. Kim, who also represented Ozbay, said that they would install a new sign that meets town standards.

Albany County’s Volunteer Firefighter of the Year

By Holly Grosch

GUILDERLAND — Twenty-year-old Chris Fuino is following in his father’s footsteps. He joined the North Bethlehem Fire Department as a junior firefighter at age 15 when his father was the captain, and now he is a second lieutenant and this year’s Albany County Volunteer Firefighter of the Year.

At age 18, Fuino became a professional firefighter, working for the Albany International Airport Fire Department, all the while remaining active as a volunteer for North Bethlehem. He spoke to The Enterprise Friday afternoon before heading off to work.

"The adrenaline rush — you never know what to expect next," Fuino said is the reason he likes being a firefighter. He spends 15 hours a week volunteering, and had the highest call response for his district this year. This means, when all the volunteers’ pagers went off, Fuino was the one who responded the most to the emergencies. He is an emergency medical technician and also spent four months training at the Utica Fire Academy.

The fire department is a good way to meet a lot of friends, Fuino said. Whenever the firefighters aren’t out on a call, they hang out at the firehouse. With a wide age range of volunteers, Fuino said he enjoys teaching the younger guys but also learning a lot from the veterans.

"You get along with everyone as long as you now what you’re doing," Fuino said.

Each fire district picks one Firefighter of the Year and then recommends that individual for the county award; 36 compete for the honor, Fuino said.

The North Bethlehem Fire Department serves parts of Bethlehem, New Scotland, and Guilderland. Fuino lives on the Bethlehem and Guilderland border on School House Road and is a 2003 graduate of Guilderland High School.

In May of 2004, Fuino rescued a 71-year-old man trapped in his home on Knoxford Road in Bethlehem. When he arrived at the burning building, Fuino and the other firefighters were told that there was no one in the home, Fuino said, but, as is customary procedure, they went in to search the house.

As his partner was pushing through the front door, Fuino felt around with his hand, and about 15 feet inside the door, his hand unexpectedly touched the leg of the 71-year-old. The man was sitting on his couch, still conscious, but he was an ailing elderly person who did not have the energy to get to the door, Fuino said; the smoke was already getting to him.

When asked if he is ever concerned or worried about his own safety as he enters a burning building, Fuino said, "It usually is in the back of your mind," but, he went on, there is just so much going on, you don’t have time to think about it.

"He’s pretty remarkable," Cindy Fuino said of her son. He turned 20 on Sept. 21 and received the volunteer of the year award the week before, on Sept. 14.

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