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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 22, 2010


Stuyvesant Plaza parks its plan

By Jo E. Prout

GUILDERLAND — Stuyvesant Plaza representatives walked away from the planning board meeting here last Wednesday moments before it began, pleasing McKownville residents who had shown up to protest a proposed expansion of the shopping center’s parking area into parkland.

“They are off the agenda,” planning board Chairman Stephen Feeney said.

Engineer Daniel Hershberg, of Hershberg and Hershberg in Albany, attended a pre-meeting review but left Town Hall as the planning board meeting got underway.

Feeney and planning board attorney Linda Clark told The Enterprise that the site plan submitted by Stuyvesant Plaza for inclusion on the July 14 agenda had many unaddressed issues. They also said that public opinion against the proposal may have caused Stuyvesant Plaza to re-examine its plans before it returns to the planning board.

“The town had asked us to make changes to the plan,” said Vice President of Real Estate for Stuyvesant Plaza Janet Kaplan. The changes include a variety of things, she said this week.

Stuyvesant Plaza asked for a total of 31 additional parking spaces for park and shopping center employee use, Kaplan said. The plan called for 19 spaces to the south of the restaurant TGI Friday’s, with 12 spaces near Starbucks coffee shop.

“We’re seeing if it’s possible to save some of the trees on the edge of the parking area,” Kaplan said. She said that modifications to the plans could include building protective wells of stone or brick around some of the trees.

Construction

In 2009, the town received five grants — $100,000 from the state’s Office of Parks and Recreation, $200,000 from the state’s Department of Transportation, two grants totaling $200,000 from the State Assembly through John McEneny, and $100,000 from Stuyvesant Plaza — for reconstruction at Western Avenue and Fuller Road and Stuyvesant Plaza, to prevent chronic flooding.

The project included turning the former McKownville Reservoir into a pocket park and recreational area. The park was to incorporate nature trails around a pond setting, with benches, picnic tables, and a pavilion. The east section of the park was to have a tall tree canopy, while the west section of the park was to have dense vegetation with a pond area and a land-bridge crossing.

Don Reeb, president of the McKownville Improvement Association, said last week in a written statement that he and other residents have used the pond in the park for more than 40 years for boating, skating, fishing, and swimming.

He and several neighbors came to Town Hall to hear the site plan review. Reeb was going to urge planning board members to “walk away” from a decision about the proposed parking, according to his statement. Reeb suggested that a transfer of parkland to Stuyvesant Plaza could not occur without a public hearing, and that a decision to do so would be “unlawful.”

“The area is a park, was a park, and will continue to be a park,” Reeb wrote.

Reeb, professor emeritus from the University at Albany’s department of economics, sent e-mails to McKownville residents, urging them to write town officials in protest of the plans to pave part of the park for more parking spaces.

Kaplan said that the plaza hopes to have its plan back before the town before summer’s end, with construction completed by this fall.

Other business

At recent meetings, the planning board:

— Approved a site plan for 22 additional garage spaces in two detached buildings at Hawthorne Gardens apartments at 1980 Western Ave. Chris Meyer, of O.J. Meyer and Son, said that many seniors live in the apartments.

“They like to keep their cars sheltered,” said Tina Scott, of Hawthorne Gardens.

“Don’t we usually need a plan?” Feeney asked town planner Jan Weston. The application did not show grading, the number of large trees to be removed, or details about a fence at the rear of the property that is often broken and unmaintained.

The planning board suggested that the zoning board of appeals determine if the fence was an earlier requirement for the property, or if the need for it is obsolete. The board also suggested that Hawthorne Gardens provide a detailed plan to the zoning board;

—Approved a site plan to allow National Grid to replace equipment at its substation on Route 146 near Altamont.

“We plan on staying on our own property,” said Nick Spagnoletti, an engineer with National Grid.

The equipment was damaged by a fire caused by a mouse, Spagnoletti said;

— Approved a site plan to allow professional rental space above The Hearing Center at 1855 Western Avenue. The additional use would require a total of 11 parking spaces for both businesses, Weston said, and the property only has five. The planning board said that the zoning board, or the type of tenant, would ensure that enough parking is provided.

“It is what it is, there,” Feeney said; and

— Agreed to allow an in-law apartment to be built by Randy and Mary Ann Bowers on Avalon Way. 


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