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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 9, 2006

Village lifts moratorium

By Michelle O’Riley

VOORHEESVILLE —The village has lifted its moratorium on outside water use and is now looking to stop residential leaks.

The water moratorium or suspension for non-village residents was lifted at last Tuesday night’s board of trustees meeting. This means eligible non-village residents will now have access to the village’s water supply.

The water moratorium was put into effect in June of 2004. It was lifted because of the addition of a half million-gallon water tank and the decrease of water use by customer Atlas Copco, a Voorheesville business which makes compressors, generators, mining equipment, and other industrial tools.

In order to make up for this loss in revenue, Mayor John Stevens said, more water customers are being added rather than increasing the cost of water to village residents.

Letters were sent to about 15 non-village residents who recently contacted Voorheesville, requesting access to the village’s water supply, to notify them of the lift. As a result, nine of those customers responded with interest in applying for water use.

Voorheesville’s Water System Rules and Regulations were revised to accommodate non-village residents. The rules now state that an eligible residence must be within 150 feet of an existing village water system mainline. In addition, the minimum charge and metered usage rates are double for non-village residents.

To apply for water use, the owner or authorized agent of a property owner should contact Voorheesville Village Hall. New service will not be available until April 1.

Residential water leaks

A recent interim reading of water meters targeted 147 indications of possible leaks in village homes. These leaks were targeted using the new $500,000 Badger Automatic Meter Reading System that was purchased by the village last year.

All village residents with possible leaks were sent a postcard notifying them of a possible leak. Superintendent of Public Works Will Smith said, "residents were very appreciative of the notices." A possible leak could include a running toilet or leaky faucet.

The first reading with the new Badger system was administered in May of 2005 and numbers from that reading were used to bill customers last June. The readings are scheduled to take place two or three times a year.

According to Smith, in the past it would normally take up to three months to schedule a time to get into village homes for water meter readings. Now it only takes about an hour for this new technology to read the entire system.

Smith says of the new system’s cost, "Within a year it will pay for itself." Since the purchase of the new system, water production has already gone down 15 percent in the village, he said.

Other business

In other business, the village board:

— Received final plans for water connection and water main improvements between Voorheesville and Guilderland. The board is waiting on the Albany County Health Department for approval. Plans will be in the village office for review;

— Heard that plans for sidewalks over railroad tracks in the village would be taken to the planning board last week. Tentative costs are $10,900 for a pipeline and sidewalk and an additional $2,000 for sidewalk from the railroad tracks to Grove Street;

— Approved two new signs — at Voorheesville Plaza and another sign for a new business at 1 North Main Street;

— Appointed alternates for the senior housing project — Dan Carmody for the zoning board of appeals and Marie McMillen for the planning commission;

— Made changes in the village’s recreation policy. Administration costs for summer employment were added; and

— Talked about plans with the town of New Scotland to work together on a summer music festival. The tentative date and location will be July 1 at the grade school property. The organizers will be looking for local talent, food, a tent, and a bandstand.

Job swap: V’ville mayor, trustee to switch

By Michelle O’Riley

VOORHEESVILLE — The mayor and a trustee will swap jobs after the village’s uncontested March 21 election. Mayor John Stevens is stepping down, and Trustee Robert Conway is stepping up.

Long-time judge Kenneth Connolly and long-time trustee Richard Berger are both seeking re-election.

The past two village elections have been uncontested.

"Taxpayers are happy with the way things are running," said the mayor. Fewer than 100 residents have voted in recent village contests.

During his time as mayor, Stevens said, he always tried to put the community first and was available 24/7, often telling residents to pick up the phone and contact him directly so issues could be resolved right away.

Stevens said he’s leaving the mayoral post because he and his wife are looking for a little more time to travel; they want to spend more time with their children and grandchildren who live in New Hampshire and Virginia.

Before making the final decision, Stevens asked if anyone else on the board would like to run for mayor and Trustee Conway said he would. Stevens has no problem switching hats with Conway.

"We have an excellent board. All five members work together for a common good," Stevens said. The mayor wants to stay on the board as trustee to help with projects that are still in the works.

Indeed, all three of the board candidates expressed similar views when asked about village issues, ranging from senior housing to sharing services with the town of New Scotland.

The three board candidates listed projects they have jointly accomplished in the last two years. Much work has been completed on sidewalk renovations; additional parking was added next to the village hall; and plans were made for a senior housing project and a refurbished firehouse.

Also, they said, infrastructure improvements were made with a new half-million-gallon water tank and pipeline; the Salem Hills sewer system was refurbished, and plans are underway to connect with Guilderland’s water system.

"I enjoy being on the village board," Conway answered when asked why he is running for mayor. No one on the board is trying to make a career out of political office, he said. "We stepped up because we care about the community and want to offer something to the community," Conway said.

Berger and Connolly echoed a similar response when asked about their reasons for running again this term. "I was born and raised here," Berger said, calling himself a "life resident" who wants to see the village continue being a "wonderful and safe place" to live.

Connolly says that he enjoys working as a judge and will continue until it is no longer fulfilling. "At the local level, you can have a great impact on some people, younger people especially," said the judge. "You have the time locally to do some hands-on work, to steer them in the right direction."


"People recognize that the current board has been responsible," said Conway. His agenda for the upcoming term will include: maintaining a reliable and safe water supply, seeing the completion of renovations to the firehouse; and continuing to serve and provide cost-effective services to taxpayers.

Berger also mentioned the importance of maintaining the village’s water system. Most important, he said, is completing the water interconnect with Guilderland. The idea for an interconnect between Guilderland and Voorheesville began two to three years ago with a conversation between Stevens and the supervisor of Guilderland. Most water now comes from wells strategically placed throughout the village. According to Stevens, having access to another water source is imperative in case the aquifer becomes contaminated.

Connolly’s agenda for this term is to continue keeping up with changes in the law and to keep court records current using the village’s new computer system. The judge said, "When I started it was all handwritten." The new paperless system has made it easier for the village court "to keep records accurate and up-to-date," Connolly said.

The word "family" was often used by all four candidates when talking about the village of Voorheesville.

Voorheesville is a community without heavy crime. "We don’t lock our doors," said the mayor. His reasons for this are that several law-enforcement officers have made this area their home, and, being located 12 miles from Albany also helps, he said. Connolly confirmed that the village courts rarely see any major criminal cases. Most cases are vehicle or traffic violations and petty larcenies, he said.

Senior Housing

Stevens states that the village has approved the senior housing project near St. Matthew’s Church. "We hoped to have a shovel in the ground by now," said Stevens. However, current management issues and legal processes have slowed down the project’s progress. "We got water and we have sewer," said the mayor, "The senior housing will be built."

When asked if the new development will change the character of the neighborhood, Berger said he was assured by the competency of the current zoning and planning boards. "With their guidance and direction, it will fit in very well," says Berger.

Trustee Conway believes that the addition of senior housing will not hinder but enhance the village’s character.

"As people age and have less need or capability of maintaining a large residence," Conway said, "providing senior housing can allow them to continue to stay in the village, maintain their friendships and family ties."

The St. Matthew’s location will also give senior residents the ability to still walk to the post office and grocery store, he said.

"People are happy being here and would like to stay," adds Berger.

Population and business

According to Stevens, the village has seen a drop in its population from 3,400 people in 1996-97 to a more recent census of 2,600 people. Trustee Berger explains that the Salem Hills and Scotch Pine developments used to be filled with young families with children. Those same children are now adults and have gone to college or moved away.

Stevens labels it the "empty-nester syndrome" and believes that the new senior housing development will boost the village population. His belief is that, once residents begin to move into the new senior housing development, real estate will open back up and more families will be able to move in.

Stevens disagrees that the commercial center of Voorheesville is fading. He states that all buildings that can be used are being used for businesses. According to the mayor, some people are even planning on converting two-family homes into businesses.

Similarly, Berger has not noticed a decline in business but has noticed businesses relocating to more driver-friendly areas of the village.

Shared services

All candidates agreed that services between the town of New Scotland and the village would be advantageous. This summer, the village will be working with the town to plan a music festival. "Our doors are always open for intermunicipal projects," said Stevens.

The election will be held at the Voorheesville firehouse; polls will open at noon and close at 9 p.m. All village residents who are at least 18 years old and are registered to vote in Albany County can vote in this year’s election.

"We would like to have people come out and vote," said Berger. "It would be good to know that the people are aware of the village government."


John Stevens

"It’s been an honor to work and serve the community," said Mayor John Stevens, who is running for village trustee. He has served in many capacities — on the zoning board, as a trustee, as an interim mayor, and as mayor for four years.

Stevens is also a member of St. Matthew’s Church and its men’s association, and he is a member of the American Legion.

Robert Conway

"I enjoy being on the village board. Voorheesville is a great community," said Robert Conway who is running for mayor. He describes himself as the proud husband of 27 years to Linda Conway and the proud father of three children — Meghan, Sean and Kaitlin.

He works as the commissioner of human resources for Albany County and has been a village trustee for four years. He has served as a member of the sewer commission and is a member of St. Matthew’s Church and its men’s association.

Richard Berger

"We are family. People are happy being here and would like to stay," said Richard Berger, who is seeking re-election as a village trustee. He describes himself as the proud husband of Terri, and the proud father of two children — Ashley and David.

He has been a trustee for nine years, and a Voorheesville volunteer fireman for over 35 years. He is a member of St. Matthew’s Church.

Ken Connolly

"It’s a great job and I enjoy doing it," said village Judge Ken Connolly, who is seeking reelection.

Connolly, an attorney, has worked in the Attorney General’s Office and served as deputy commissioner and counsel, retiring in 2004. He has also worked in the State Senate in criminal justice legislation for 38 years and was a town judge in New Scotland for 20 years.

Connolly is a member of the New Scotland Kiwanis.

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