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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 1, 2006

Camp planned
Cabins for the creative

By Holly Grosch

NEW SCOTLAND — Dressed in green Columbia shorts, loafers, and a black fleece, with curly white hair draped over his neck, Steven Cosimano explained to the planning board his proposal to build a professional and creative retreat between Indian Ledge and Castle roads.

Cosimano is a writer at heart and his son is a musician, he told The Enterprise. The two of them run a technology business together, but want to have a woods escape to do their creative work and open up the camp to others. "We can do some good work up there," Cosimano told The Enterprise.

The currently undeveloped 15-acre parcel has a rough terrain. Indian Ledge Road runs parallel to New Scotland Road where it meets up with route 443. It’s a brushy property with three different ledges, Cosimano said.

He wants to build four small individual cabins and one center lodge, with showers, electricity , a telephone, and a kitchen. He hopes to reserve some large space above the lodge or in a barn-like structure for conference rooms. All of the buildings will be on Castle Road, he said.

The cabins will have limited electricity, powered only with solar energy from panels on the roofs, Cosimano said.

"Yeah, you’re in the woods but you wouldn’t know it," he told the New Scotland Planning Board which is considering giving him a special-use permit to allow the camp.

Cosimano plans to have the site equipped for wireless computer service and cellular phone service.

There are at least three existing wells on site, but one is dry, one is dirty, and the third seems functional. Another recently-discovered well has not been fully tested yet, he said.

He thinks at most he’ll be able to host eight people at one time. He’s going to build the lodge first and then build cabins after he sees how much interest he’ll get. The Cabins are proposed to be built within 200 feet of each other.

He’s going to market to artists, writers, musicians, scientists, and amateur astronomers, offering them a place to meet or compose whether it be individually or as a group. He’s trying to draw from the Northeast, including the metropolitan areas of Boston and New York City, he said

The camp will be run as a for-profit business venture, however, Cosimano hopes to allow a few people to stay at a reduced price, such as a starting artist who can’t afford the fees, he said. The camp will be open only seasonally, from spring to fall, and patrons can stay for months at a time, a week, or weekend, he said.

The planning board scheduled a June 6 public hearing on the proposal.

Other business

In other planning board news, the board:

— Scheduled, also for June 6, a public hearing for the proposed 195-foot cell tower off of Pinnacle Road, which requires a special-use permit. The zoning board has already approved the needed variances.

URS Corporation on behalf of Dominion Transmission wants to take down an 86-foot tower and one-story equipment building and replace both; building a new shelter and a much higher tower. The tower is used by Dominion Transmission to communicate information controlling the flow of oil in the area; some government agencies are also co-located on this tower.

— Considered a request fromNew Cingular Wireless for a new 90-foot cell tower on Woods Hill Road next to the village of Voorheesville’s water tank. A 90-foot tower already exists on this site.

Last year, Sprint informed New Cingular Wireless that the highest availability on its tower for an antenna was 70 feet, which is below the tree line. However, now Sprint has sold the tower to Global Signal, which is not a cell-phone company but rather a business that owns and maintains towers. Sprint and Nextel have also since merged.

Global Signal now wants to extend the existing tower, zoning officer Paul Cantlin informed Cingular's representative, attorney Adam Walters. Walters said, at the last planning board meeting, that he has since contacted Global Signal. Global Signal was looking into extending the tower in order to host Verizon, and is also now willing to consider extending the tower even more to offer space to New Cingular Wireless as well, Walters said.

The town's planning and zoning boards now have two scenarios to consider: Does New Scotland want one very tall tower, or two 90-foot towers next to each other"

"It’s a trade off," Walters said.

Walters said that his company has already worked out a lease for the proposed new tower with the village of Voorheesville so that would have to be re-negotiated.

Walters also said, while considering all the options, his client does want to move forward with the current new 90-foot tower application. However, if it is possible to extend the existing 90-foot tower, this "probably would be more favorable" to his clients, he said. New towers are extremely expensive.

Planning board chairman Robert Stapf said that he would still like alternative sites to be investigated.

Police say
BOCES teacher caught with Coke

By Holly Grosch

VOORHEESVILLE — Special education teacher Brooke Huntington will not be finishing the school year with her students at Voorheesville’s high school; she was arrested by Albany City Police last Thursday night for possessing cocaine.

Huntington is a first-year teacher employed by the Capital Region Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), which rents out classroom space from the Voorheesville School District. She has been placed on administrative leave by BOCES, pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings.

Around 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 25, Huntington was illegally parked in a bus-stop zone on Washington Avenue in downtown Albany not far from the intersection of Lark Street, when police approached her about moving her vehicle, said Albany Police Detective and press officer Jim Miller.

She immediately acted nervous and suspicious, Miller said. One of the officers looked in the passenger window of the car and saw in plain view powdered cocaine inside her purse, he said. An eighth of an ounce was retrieved, which is a personal-use size, but enough to be of a felony weight, Miller said.

Huntington, who is around 30 years old, is charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance — which is a felony, Miller said.

Huntington was "very cooperative " at the time of her arrest, Miller said. She has no previous record, he said.

According to Albany City Court clerks, Huntington was arraigned on Friday, May 26, and then she returned to court this Wednesday afternoon for her preliminary hearing before judge William Carter. According to Albany County’s jail she did not spend any time there. Huntington is an Albany resident and was released under supervision. She is due back in court on June 29.

The local effect

The news "came as a shock to the school," Voorheesville Superintendent Linda Langevin told The Enterprise. "Everyone was quite shocked," she said.

This is the second time this year that a staffer at Voorheesville was arrested on felony charges. In January, teaching assistant, John Krajewski was charged with second degree rape.

Langevin described Huntington as "an average teacher."

Voorheesville houses three BOCES special-education classes, one each at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, Langevin said. The partnership has been a pleasant one and Voorheesville has not had any incidences with BOCES employees before, she said.

Huntington taught teens with special needs at the high-school level in a contained classroom, Langevin said. About four BOCES staff members worked in the one classroom, she said. There are seven children in Huntington’s class, only one of whom is actually a Voorheesville School District resident, Langevin said.

BOCES officials personally called the families of all seven students over the Memorial Day break to inform them of the arrest, Langevin said.

The students returned to school on Wednesday, after the break which was longer than usual due to contingency snow days.

"Things are very calm and quiet," around here today, Mark Diefendorf, the principal of Clayton A. Bouton High School, told The Enterprise on Wednesday afternoon. Supervisors from BOCES briefed the students that morning and social workers were made available, he said.

Diefendorf said he observed the classroom for a little bit and observed students "staying on task and asking questions."

The class talked about making bad decisions or poor choices, and how adults do that sometimes, too, Diefendorf said.

Things are "generally back up to speed," though, he said.

One of the BOCES teaching assistants who had been working with this group, Craig Church, is a certified teacher, and will be filling in for the last few weeks of school as the students’ teacher, Diefendorf said. Fortunately, the kids don’t have to deal with a "new face" in the classroom right now as well, Diefendorf said.

When asked if Huntington was revered by her pupils, Diefendorf responded, "Not any more so than any other teacher."

While she taught academic skills including reading, writing, and math to the students, it was probably Church who had the best rapport and more of a personal relationship with the students, Diefendorf said. This is because he was the one who took the kids to lunch, and spent time with them in physical-education and art class, he said.

"It was a shock to everyone," Diefendorf said, echoing Langevin’s comments.

"I would see her every day in the hallway," Diefendorf said of Huntington, and she never appeared under the influence. There was never anything suspicious to speak of, he said.

Langevin said that she had not received any complaints about Huntington from parents either.

Inge Jacobs, the special-education director for the Capital Region BOCES did not return a phone call from The Enterprise but released a statement, which is similar to a letter Langevin sent to parents this week.

"At this point there is no evidence or information to indicate that there was criminal activity on school grounds involving Voorheesville students or students from the other districts being served in the BOCES classroom where Ms. Huntington taught," both Jacobs and Langevin wrote.

The police conducted a search of Huntington's classroom on Friday and found nothing, Diefendorf and Langevin said.

Will re-tool to cut costs
Village rejects contracts for firehouse renovations

By Michelle O’Riley

VOORHEESVILLE — The village board, at a workshop Tuesday night, rejected all five prime contracts submitted for firehouse renovations.

According to the board, all of the bids came in over the proposed bond amount of $1.2 million. The bonding authorization amount was voted on and passed last year by village residents.

The upgrade for the 38-year-old firehouse on Route 156 was termed "functional, not fancy," by former mayor and current trustee Jack Stevens last summer before the public vote.

Richard Straut, senior vice president of Barton and Loguidice, the engineering firm working on the project, said at the time that the fire department needed more space to accommodate larger equipment and to provide room for training and community events. The building is also in need of renovations to bring it into compliance with current building codes.

Also, he said, the current heating and electrical systems are near the end of their life and need to be replaced. And, several safety and accessibility issues need to be addressed — restrooms are not accessible to people with handicaps and asbestos in the building needs to be removed.

The contracts that the board rejected on Tuesday included 18 bids from contractors and subcontractors for various reconstruction work to be completed on the firehouse.

The work costs were more than anticipated.

Some additional costs include $17,000 for air handlers that are required to meet fresh- air requirements for the building, and $42,000 for ductwork.

The village board, fire department, and project engineers discussed possible changes to the current specifications that would decrease the cost of the renovation project.

There is a need to look at major items, said Mayor Robert Conway.

Straut and Ronald Slade, from Barton and Loguidice, mentioned that a bathroom could be eliminated if the handicapped-accessible bathroom were changed to unisex. Eliminating a bathroom would also open up more storage space, they said.

Straut and Slade will now need to rework the project specifications and meet again with the board before any more bids can be accepted, said village attorney Anne-Jo McTague.

The board agreed that the redesign and bidding needs to be completed in time for firehouse renovations to begin this fall.

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