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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, December 29, 2011
2011 in review: Voorheesville
VOORHEESVILLE The village wrangled with ambulance contracts, fire truck options, and the loss of a beloved trustee in 2011, while welcoming new businesses and upgrading its parks. Voorheesville also agreed to look into ways to reduce train noise in the village.
“We have a contract, once again, for the upcoming year,” said Clerk-Treasurer Linda Pasquali of the ambulance service. The board and the Voorheesville Area Ambulance Squad signed a contract for 2012 at the board’s Dec. 14 workshop, she said. The contract will go into effect Jan. 1.
The board and the squad have not yet resolved whether the village or the town of New Scotland will handle the ambulance’s billing. The ambulance squad serves both the town and the village within the town.
“We’re getting to a point where…if there’s a more efficient way” to bill, “it makes sense to do it on a townwide basis,” said Terence Hannigan, attorney for the ambulance squad, in November.
In September, the board agreed to accept quarterly reports from the ambulance squad, instead of monthly reports, to be in sync with reports filed simultaneously with the town.
Voorheesville Fire Department officials and the village board will open bids Friday for a custom-made fire truck, ending more than a year of discussions, delayed requests, and studies.
In February, the board hired independent consultant EVR, which stands for emergency vehicle response, to assess the fire district’s needs and suggest a 5- to 10-year plan. The board paid EVR $9,800 for its study. By August, fire department members were anxious to purchase a truck, but the village board held back.
“I don’t want to commit without knowing what we’re getting into,” said Mayor Robert Conway. “I don’t want to bond anything. We can’t bond it.”
“For six years, we’ve been pounding for this,” said fire truck committee member Frank Papa.
“Six years ago, we didn’t have a penny for it,” Conway said. The village has budgeted $400,000 for a fire truck purchase in 2012.
Pasquali said this week that EVR will review the fire truck bids for an additional charge of $2,500.
The fire truck purchase was one of the issues that incumbents David Cardona and William Hotaling discussed before their uncontested re-election in March. Hotaling, who served as deputy mayor for many years, died unexpectedly in May.
“No matter what cause he was undertaking… he always had the best interests of the community in mind,” Conway said of Hotaling. “He was a tremendous advocate for the village. I think that stems from being generous of heart.”
Hotaling served as Voorheesville’s superintendent of public works for 29 years, and volunteered with the fire company for 40 years. He was in his third term as trustee.
“When anyone in the community needed help, he wouldn’t wait to be asked, he would be there to lend a helping hand,” his family wrote in a tribute. “Friends and family knew Bill best for his quick wit and his big heart. He could always make us laugh and see the humor in any situation.”
“He told you exactly what he thought,” said Hotaling’s son, Chad.
The village board swore in Hotaling’s other son, Brett, a week later. Brett Hotaling agreed to fill his father’s seat on the board until village elections are held in March. At that time, a special election will be held to fill the remaining three years in William Hotaling’s term.
“I’ve lived here for 40 years,” Brett Hotaling said in May. “I can make a difference in the village.”
Voorheesville welcomed Brick House Pizza and Subway in the Hannaford Plaza this year.
“We just had to find our own place,” said Niko Kita, the husband of Brick House owner Enkeleiza Kita. “We liked it here. The town has been very supportive.”
In August, Hannaford celebrated its newly remodeled Voorheesville store with donations of toys and gift cards to patrons and $2,000 to the New Scotland Community Food Pantry.
The village installed new playground equipment in the Scotch Pine playground at a cost of $12,400. Trustee Cardona and Superintendent of Public Works William Smith contacted the town of Rotterdam this year, hoping to purchase used skate-park equipment, but response has been slow, they repeatedly told the board.
In July, the board had security cameras installed in the park behind village hall.
“We’ve had some issues over the last couple years that’s less than desirable,” Conway said. “Families were concerned about going to the park.” Teens had reportedly used pot, alcohol, and profanity in the park, prompting parents to keep young children away.
Last spring, the board adopted a sewer law to assess fees for those holding but not using access to the sewer system. The law also dictated the types of grinder pumps required for each property.
The village paved Pleasant Street to alleviate flooding issues, but the job still needed adjustments before Tropical Storm Irene dumped record rainfall in August.
That same month, the courts awarded to the village the abandoned Munks home at 16 Altamont Road, adjacent to the firehouse.
Conway described the house, with an abandoned car in the overgrown yard, as a public nuisance.
In April, the village board adopted a $2 million budget, with a tax rate of $1.15 per $1,000 of assessed value.
“I think it’s a great budget,” said Cardona, the board’s budget officer. “It’s fiscally responsible. It allows us to continue providing the services people expect.”
Those services may soon be accessible to all, as the board continues discussions with village engineer Barton & Loguidice to retrofit village hall. The proposed project could cost between $400,000 and $1 million.
“The least expensive option is to do something here,” said engineer Richard Straut. The project could include a “bumped out” section toward Nichols Park to make room for an elevator and a mechanical system. The project would include an upstairs restroom compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A new building elsewhere could cost $1 million, Straut said.
Conway agreed to meet with residents early next year to discuss railroad quiet zones, or horn-free railroad crossings, possible under federal railroad administration safety rules only if expensive safety gates are installed at each crossing. Conway said that such gates would not eliminate all railway horn noise.
“You can start hearing trains when they’re in New Salem,” he said.
Resident Steven Schreiber said that, over a 20-year period, the costs would be “pennies a day, literally. I don't think there are too many people in Voorheesville who are sentimental about train noise,” he said.
Jo E. Prout