New Scotland 2023 in review: Two tragedies and incremental improvement

The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Mariel McGinnis, center, talks with a potential customer at her mother’s Scrumptious Cold Cakes stand during the first New Scotland Community Day at Nichols Park in Voorheesville in August. The inaugural event was hosted by Our New Scotland, launched this year to promote small businesses in town.

NEW SCOTLAND — Local news out of New Scotland this year took on a decidedly national tone, with two major stories garnering media attention from outlets across the country.

In October, a 20-month ordeal was dispensed with in just over two hours as jurors convicted Jacob Klein of second-degree murder in the brutal death of town  resident Philip Rabadi. 

While in July, a 15-year-old boy was the only survivor of a devastating Normanskill Road house fire that took the lives of four members of his family. 

The two tragedies stood in stark contrast to the rest of news out of New Scotland in 2023, an otherwise quiet year for the town and its residents, where deliberate and incremental improvement continued to be the modus operandi. 

In 2023, long-term plans and projects were the name of the game for New Scotland’s boards. 

This spring, Alan Kowlowitz presented both the town board and the Voorheesville trustees with the results of a cultural resource survey that found three areas in New Scotland that, with work, could become eligible for the National Register of Historic Places: the village of Voorheesville, Tarrytown, and Indian Ladder Farms.

Also this spring, the town passed a local law granting  a 10-percent exemption off the assessed value of properties for volunteer first responders. To be eligible for the exemption, a first responder must have his or her primary residence in New Scotland and have at least two years of service, among other requirements.

In August, the town board passed a resolution to voluntarily recognize the Civil Service Employees Association as the “exclusive bargaining agent for the purpose of collective bargaining” for about 17 blue-collar workers in New Scotland’s highway, water and sewer, mechanic, transfer station, and parks departments.



After running into money problems not long after receiving approval, Ron Kay’s Grove at Maple Point project languished for four years until 2021, when it became a thorn in the side of the town. 

In 2021, the project finally got off the ground, only to be issued a stop-work order in August 2021 after measurements taken by Building Inspector Jeremy Cramer showed the first of the development’s two buildings was 665 square feet larger than what was shown on the plans.

Kay received a fine, and the project came under closer scrutiny. 

But the work appears to be finally paying off, as three businesses in 2023 either opened or received approval to do so. 

Trustco Bank has already opened a branch at the location, near the intersection of routes 85 and 85A. While this summer, the town’s planning board signed off on a daycare facility for 392 Maple Road

The Learning Garden Childcare Center will be an approximately 5,500-square-foot full-time, year-round daycare center with enough room to accommodate 66 children from 6 weeks old to pre-kindergarteners; it won’t be offering aftercare for elementary students. 

And in December, the planning board approved Tim Tocco’s request to open his second area martial arts studio, making Volt Martial Arts the third business set to open up in the shopping center this year. 

A fourth business, Delmar’s Savile Road bicycle shop, had received approval in September 2022 to open its second location, but never moved forward with the project. 

Problems obtaining a certificate of occupancy meant the bike shop was not able to be open and operating its target July date. The Savile Road bicycle shop did not move forward with building permits “as they were supposed to be in and operating by July 2023, but  for Building #1 was not issued at the time,” according to Cramer. Savile Road owner, Steven LeBoyer, in response to an Enterprise inquiry about his shop’s New Scotland future, wrote, “We decided to stay in Delmar when an availability, that met our requirements, opened up just down the road from our original location.”



Initially proposed by a different owner as a 72-unit apartment development in June 2021, plans for 2080 New Scotland Road from the project’s new owner have changed quite a bit since the proposal was first made, largely as a consequence of zoning changes made in response to the first proposal. 

When the project’s first owner, Richard Long, proposed 72 apartments, it was because he had thought that the town’s zoning code hadn’t been clear on the  allowable density of his proposed development. During the zoning board’s first meeting on the proposal, in June 2021, representatives for Long argued there had been different housing standards in the hamlet-zoned district, that one standard specified only one home per acre while another allowed a residential unit every 3,000 square feet.

The town board eventually cleaned up the zoning law’s language, which now allows for 40 total units in the hamlet; however, developers would be eligible for a maximum 10-additional-unit density bonus “in return for providing certain amenities to the town.” 

The goal for some time since before the hamlet zoning was updated was to build 50-or-so units on the New Scotland Road site, but the problem soon became one  of configuration. 

In March, the project proposed to the town was for 12 two-story, four-unit buildings, and one two-story, two-unit building. The request would have required a waiver from the town board from New Scotland’s hamlet design guidelines, and three variances from the zoning board. The 50 units would be condominiums.

A couple of months later, the project before the planning board was for 11 four-unit buildings and two three-unit structures, but the proposal still needed a waiver, two variances, and also relied on receiving a density bonus, awarded to developers who provide “certain amenities to the town,” to achieve to achieve the maximum possible build-out.

As the year ended, the project continued to make its way through the town’s review process, securing the planning board’s OK on the development’s proposed site plan prior to a public hearing being held on the variance requests.


Meadowdale Winery

An award-winning Guilderland winery made the jump over the town line this year as it looks to expand its operations. 

First presented to the planning board in April, Meadowdale Winery was seeking approval for a winery and tasting room at 111 Picard Road, at the site of the former Picard’s Grove, once a community gathering place for generations but more recently the subject of a legal battle over its future use. In October 2020, after months of legal battles, the 87-acre Picard property was purchased by neighbors Valerie and Richard Glover, who worked with the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy to insure an easement, protecting the land from development. 

Meadowdale John Sheehan told the board in the spring that he wanted to expand the days the tasting room would open to the public, from Saturday and Sunday to also include Friday, and to move from six months to a year-round operation.

In June, the planning board approved Meadowdale’s request to move its facility from 32 Fryer Lane Guilderland to  Picard Road. 


ARPA funds

New Scotland’s seniors made their voices heard this year as they successfully lobbied the town board for close to half the cost of a new van to  transport the town’s elderly residents.

The plan was put in motion about a year ago, when the town board set aside $324,000 for new playground equipment, and another $23,000 for streamlining New Scotland’s general code. During the town board’s December 2022 meeting,  Councilwoman Bridgit Burke began to push for more public involvement with how the town’s federal dollars were spent. 

She said at the time she understood the need and usefulness of placing all of the town laws, rules, and regulations, online, and not just in a series of PDFs on the town website. 

“I’m fully in support of this,” Burke said last year as she voted to approve the t0wn’s federal money for playground equipment and software. “I think that it’s very important that we be as transparent as possible to the public and for them to have easy access to the rules that have been established,” Burke said, going on to mention other towns that “allow the community to come in and make suggestions about how they thought the funds should be used. And I think that this is very worthy,” Burke said. “I would like to hear from the community as well.”

By the time of the board’s April meeting, when a workshop was set for the following month on how the town’s dollars should be spent, about 40 percent of New Scotland’s roughly $600,000 in American Rescue Plan funding had been sitting in the bank for over a year.

In May, a group of New Scotland’s elderly residents showed up to the workshop, and asked the town board to set aside some of the money for a new bus. One resident noted she had recently been to a concert attended by a number of seniors at Troy Music Hall, and couldn’t help but notice the “lovely” bus  shuttling some residents from the Summit at Mill Hill in Guilderland. In contrast, she said, “The bus we have right now is just terrible.”

Deb Engel, New Scotland’s senior outreach liaison, told the board, after one of the town’s two senior buses was taken off the road three years ago, she had “been attempting nonstop to secure funding through three submissions of grants on behalf of the town.”

Engel said, “obviously,” her attempts have not been successful.

Board members were both sympathetic and amenable to the idea of setting aside a big chunk of money for a senior van. Burke praised Engel for her tireless pursuit of grant money to help defray the cost of a new van.  

In October, following a brief discussion about trying to get Albany County to help pay for the new $120,000 van, town board members voted unanimously to set aside $50,000 for the vehicle.


Hilton barn

Work at the Hilton Barn ramped up this year as the 125-year-old structure received some serious work, and the added bill to prove it.

Calling it the “culmination of many months and years of design and analysis for renovation” of the historic building, the town board in May approved a $529,200 contract with Sanz Construction of Staten Island for work on the barn.

Included in Sanz’s bid for work on the barn was to

— Remove, retain, and replace the barn’s existing siding;

— Install new wood double-hung windows, wood doors, and a storefront entry system; 

— Install bathrooms

— Reinforce areas of the concrete floor; and

— Perform associated electrical and mechanical work.

This month, the town board approved an additional $150,000 for Sanz to deal with significant deterioration on the upper levels of the barn. And coupled with the added $61,000 paid to the project’s roofing contractor in May 2021, it appears the town and its elected officials could start to feel the pinch of being 17.5 percent over budget. 

Councilman William Hennessy, who has spearheaded the project for the town for over a half-decade, told The Enterprise this month that New Scotland has a “dedicated parks fund,” which is subsidized by developers, as well as federal funds granted in the wake of the pandemic.

He also said the town is “still investigating the ability to petition the state for increased grant funding,” which he doesn’t think New Scotland is eligible for anyway, “but we certainly will look into that, too.”


Rabadi and Klein

In October, it took an Albany County jury just two hours to convict Jacob Klein for the second-degree murder of New Scotland resident Philip Rabadi.

Klein’s horrific 2022 slaying of Rabadi was driven in large part by Rabadi’s marriage to Ellie Radin, Klein’s former girlfriend of two-and-a-half years. 

On April 13, 2022, after failing to show up for his job as a physician’s assistant at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, a bound and stabbed Rabbadi was found soon after a call by Radin to the Albany County Sheriff’s Office for a welfare check.

Radin soon arrived at home just as Rabadi’s father, Shaw, and a sheriff’s deputy arrived on the grizzly scene.


Normanskill Road 

This summer, a teenager was the recipient of an outpouring of support from the local community following the tragic death of four of his family members in a horrific fire.

On July 8, at about 5:15 in the morning, local volunteer fire departments along with sheriff’s deputies and emergency medical technicians from Albany County responded to a 9-1-1 call from an occupant of a rural Normanskill Road home engulfed in flames.

The call came from Rebecca Monterosso, who told a dispatcher that she and four others were trapped inside, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said at the time. Monterosso told the dispatcher she wasn’t sure of the whereabouts of three others, but she was with the youngest occupant, Emily Neander, and they were trapped in an upstairs bedroom with no way to escape because of an air conditioner in the window.

Four people died on the scene that day: Emily Neander, 5; Arthur Neander, 35; Rebecca Monterosso, 40; and Dale Donato, 64.  Anthony Thorne was able to survive by jumping from a second-story story window.

Following the tragedy, a gofundme with the goal of raising $20,000 to help pay for funeral costs, exceeded that target two-and-a-half times over.

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