Altamont trustee election set for March 19

ALTAMONT — Village elections are the third Tuesday in March. Altamont trustees Nicholas Fahrenkopf and Michelle Ganance both say they will run on March 19 to keep their seats.

Ganance was appointed to the village board in September 2018, after Trustee Madeline La Mountain stepped down. Previously, Ganance had been a member of the village’s zoning board.

Asked why she would chose to run, Ganance told The Enterprise, “Because I like being part of the community … And I think I can make a little bit of a difference, and, so, I’m going to give it a shot.”

Ganance has lived in Altamont for 14 years; she is a lifelong Guilderland resident. She’s married and has two children, and works as a computer programmer.

Nicholas Fahrenkopf was appointed to the board in November 2015, after Trustee Cathy Glass resigned. In March 2016, he won a special election to keep the post.

“I’ve enjoyed my time on the board,” Fahrenkopf said, “we’ve had some pretty good projects going so far, most notably was the brand-new fire truck.”

There are some other longer-term projects that he’d like to see through to completion, he said; he’d like to see something happen with the Crounse House.

Fahrenkopf also cited the further implementation of the Nixle communication system as a longer-term project he’d like to work on. Nixle is an alert system that residents can sign up for to receive information about road closings, community news, as well as critical alerts. Residents can receive the information via text, email, or mobile application.  

He also wants to work on an update to the village’s website.

Fahrenkopf, who has a Ph.D. in nanoscale engineering, was just 29 years old when he was appointed by former Mayor James M. Gaughan.

At the time, Fahrenkopf said, he and his wife had recently moved to Altamont and were looking to start a family in the village. They now have to daughters.

This was around the time the Guilderland Central School District considered closing Altamont Elementary School because of declining enrollment districtwide, he said. “That got us very involved in the community because [Altamont Elementary] was important reason why we moved here,” he said.

He saw it “week after week in the paper” that former mayor Gaughan was looking for someone to take over Glass’s seat, he said. He then reached out to Gaughan and said he was willing to help.

Both Fahrenkopf and Ganance, along with the mayor, approved, in a 3-to-2 vote last month, rezoning the two-family house next to the Stewart’s Shop in the village, from residential to commercial, so that Stewart’s can expand.

Petitions for trustee candidates, with 50 signatures each, are due at Village Hall by Wednesday, Feb. 13. Candidates in village elections do not run on traditional party lines.

Cell tower

During the public comment portion of Tuesday’s village board meeting, resident Kristin Casey talked about the proposed cell tower for Agawam Lane.

“The cell tower is not a done deal in that location,” Casey said.

Earlier in her comments, Casey was told by Trustee Dean Whalen that the approval or denial of the special-use permit needed to build the 120-foot monopole tower is the sole responsibility of the planning board.

If the cell tower is denied in that spot, Casey asked, why not look for alternate spots so the village won’t lose out on revenue?

Casey had thought that a denial would send Enterprise Consulting Services back to the village board to look for an alternate location.

“That would be solely up to ECS,” Whalen told her.

Casey also asked about revenue the village would receive from the cell tower; she wanted to know when the board would know how much that would be. She was told by Mayor Kerry Dineen that those numbers may not be available until 2020.

In January, The Enterprise filed a Freedom of Information Law request for an unredacted copy of the agreement between the village and ECS to find out how much Altamont would receive in compensation from ECS.

The village responded, “The unredacted Land License Agreement may contain information which, if disclosed, would cause substantial injury to the competitive position of ECS’s commercial enterprise. If so, such information would be considered a deniable record under section 87(2)(d) of the FOIL law.  Consequently, we have asked ECS for input on this question. Upon receipt of a response from ECS, the Village will make a determination as to whether to grant or deny such request.”

Other business

In other business, the village board:

— Heard from Jeffrey Moller, superintendent of Public Works, who wanted to assuage residents’ fears about the safety of Altamont’s water supply. In January, The Enterprise reported that a disinfectant added to Guilderland’s drinking water had caused spikes of a chemical that could be dangerous.

Moller said that the village doesn’t have those problems because it no longer receives any water from the from the Watervliet Reservoir;

— Appointed Tresa Matulewicz to the zoning board to fill out the term of  former member John Huber who died in December. The term expires on March 31, 2022; and

— Appointed Sal Tassone as the alternate member of the zoning board after the former alternate, Isaiah Swart, was named as Michelle Ganance’s replacement in September 2018. Tassone’s term ends on March 31, 2023.


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