Pride flag flies at Guilderland Town Hall

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

The rainbow-colored pride flag flies at Guilderland Town Hall on Monday along with the American flag, the POW/MIA flag, and the Ukrainian flag. This variety of the pride flag is known as the Progress Flag and was designed by Daniel Quasar with the colors in the chevron representing marginalized people of color, trans people, and people living with or lost to HIV/AIDS.

GUILDERLAND — Moments after the Guilderland Town Board adopted a policy specifying what flags can fly at Town Hall, it agreed to fly a pride flag for the month of June, which is Pride Month.

Both votes were unanimous.

“This means a great deal to not only this community, but my family as well,” said Councilwoman Amanda Beedle on flying the pride flag.

She said she had brought the matter to the board because she wanted “to show that this town is very open and inclusive and welcoming to all.”

“I’m glad Guilderland is following the lead of a lot of other communities in upstate New York and all over the country,” said Deputy Supervisor Christine Napierski.

“I do appreciate Amanda’s passion for this,” said Supervisor Peter Barber. “So I’ll make it clear to other board members, if you have a passion about something, let me know.”

The idea for Pride Month arose out of the Stonewall riots for gay liberation in New York City in 1969.

The now familiar rainbow-colored pride flag was first flown on June 25, 1978, at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade.

It was designed by Gilbert Baker, an Army veteran who came to use the drag queen name of Busty Ross, referencing Betsy Ross.

In introducing the policy he drafted to the board, Barber said, “The reason for this resolution is that, when you fly a flag at Town Hall [we] have to have a policy in place so that the placement of flags is reserved to the town board and that the flagpole does not end up being perceived as being a public forum.”

Rather, he said, it is “protected as government speech.”

Previously, before the policy adoption, Barber said, “I think the police department signed off on it and that was it.”

The town’s new one-page flag policy says that Guilderland, at its town hall, displays the town, state, and United States flags and “by approval of the Town Board, flags honoring Prisoners of War, Honor & Remembrance, the Town’s Bicentennial, and Ukraine.”

The policy goes on to say, “The flagpoles and other spaces at Town Hall where a flag may be flown shall constitute a government forum, not a public forum for private speech … The Town Board’s approval to fly a particular flag at Town Hall shall be a statement of the Town Board, and a form of government speech.”

Finally, the town board can vote, as it did with the pride flag, to display other flags at the town hall to “commemorate events or observances that have observance days, months or periods of time declared by Proclamation of the President of the United States, by Act of Congress, or by Proclamation of the Governor of the State of New York.”

The board agreed to add to that the executive and legislative branches of the county as well as the state legislature.

“It would give us more leeway …,” Napierski said. “Just because there’s a proclamation for Albany County doesn’t mean we have to observe the flag; we would have the choice. But if we don’t include Albany County, we wouldn’t have the choice to do that.”



The board approved costs for paving 7.39 miles of town roads.

“It is an extensive list and as you are aware, weather & equipment breakdowns will always be a factor if we can complete all roads on the list,” Highway Superintendent Bob Haver wrote in a May 28 memo to Barber.

Guilderland has 168 centerline miles of road, Haver wrote, and it is recommended that each mile have some form of surface treatment every 10 years.

“In order to accomplish that I need to pave 16.8 miles per year,” he said. “My request is much less than that,” covering only 7.39 miles.

Haver said he plans to use $563,000 in state funds, which do not cover “the cost to grind and patch roads that we are not paving this year. That cost can reach to another $140,000.”

Roads that the highway crew plans to work on include Greystone Drive, Wedgewood Lane, Ostrander Road, Wormer Road, West Old State Road, Arcadia Avenue, Becker Road, Brookwood Avenue, Western Avenue, Gaskill Avenue, Wood Street, Hillcrest Avenue, Birchwood Drive, Morningside Drive, Pinewood Drive, Parkview Drive, Birchwood Drive, and Morningside Drive.

Barber told the board, “These are roads that are identified through a computer program that the state uses” in which data is entered on age and use of roads as well as condition.

He said of Haver, “Bob also goes out with his crew and he also inspect the roads, and it spits out basically the roads that need some sort of treatment.” The treatment, Barber said, can be anything from patching to repaving or even rebuilding a road.

Collector roads, Barber said, in theory would have higher use and more need for repairs but culverts and washouts can also make a difference.


Other business

In other business, the Guilderland Town Board on June 4:

— Approved the hiring and promotion of police officers. Sergeant Matthew Egnor is being promoted to the rank of lieutenant while Officer Matthew McCaffrey is being promoted to the rank of sergeant.

Police Chief Daniel McNally wrote in a May 30 memo to the board that the promotions stem from the recent retirement of Captain Eric Batchelder, and the three new hires are due to Mario Hulch resigning to take a job in Florida and Robert Bailey’s retirement at the end of June.

The three newly hired patrolmen ar Matthew Iuorno, transferring from the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, Steven Clermont, transferring from the Troy Police Department; and Christian Cooper, transferring from the North Greenbush Police Department;

A swearing-in ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. on June 28 at the town hall.

“I think it’s a great group,” said Barber, noting the hiring of the new officers is conditional upon a background check;

— Agreed to purchase a used ambulance, for $150,438.84, from Ney Leasing Corporation. Barber said the “deal fell through” on another used ambulance that the town had earlier planned to purchase.

“It got sold to another entity,” he said.

Ney Leasing, located in Iowa, was the only response, according to a May 30 memo Jay Tyler, director of Guilderland Emergency Medical Services, sent to the board.

The cost breaks down like this: $145,000 for the used ambulance, $1,938.84 for changing the paint to match Guilderland’s fleet, and $3,500 for lettering;

— Waived the fees for several building permits: for two fire-damaged storage buildings, one at 3093 East Lydius St. and the other at 230 Settles Hill Rd., and for constructing Guilderland’s new fire training tower.

Barber said the training tower for volunteer firefighters at the Northeastern Industrial Park is ready to go up, likening its construction to “a Lego set.” He went on, “It’s more than that but it’s basically sitting and boxes and you have to put them together.”

Barber thanked Steve Oliver, the town’s former highway superintendent, for volunteering his time and expertise to dig out the foundation and Albany County for supplying stone and foundation work.

“It’s been a great collaborative effort,” said Barber;

— Appointed Christopher Cox as an equipment operator at the town’s transfer station for an hourly starting salary of $22.29;

— Heard from Barber that the June 18 board meeting has been canceled because it was on the eve of Juneteenth. “We are trying to treat the Juneteenth holiday just like any other holiday and you wouldn’t have a meeting on July 3rd,” said Barber. The board’s next meeting is on July 16; and

— Heard from Barber that the pool at Tawasentha Park will open on June 15 and that “registrations for the summer camp are setting records with a couple of programs that already sold out.”

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