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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 28, 2005

Board doesn’t bite on kennel proposal

By Nicole Fay Barr

GUILDERLAND — Tracy McCallum was tearful as she left last Wednesday’s zoning board meeting. She said that, because of the board and her neighbors, her dogs were going to die.

The board, in a six-to-one vote, had denied McCallum’s application for a dog kennel on her Leesome Lane property. Guilderland has a three-dog limit and McCallum had been violating that law by owning six dogs. She applied for the variance to keep her dogs — Rottweilers, boxers, and Doberman pinschers — and to breed more.

No one will want her older dogs, she claimed, so they will die.

Board member Charles Klaer, who cast the sole dissenting vote, sympathized with McCallum and her husband, Robert Cedano. He suggested the board let the couple keep their older dogs until they die.

But, the other board members were convinced — this meeting and last, by the couple’s neighbors — that a kennel variance would change the character of the quiet neighborhood. Nearly all of the residents on Leesome Lane said that the dogs are loud and aggressive and are often let loose.

Representatives of Camp Wildwood, a summer camp for disabled children at the end of Leesome Lane, also spoke against the proposal. They worried that, with reports of loose Rottweilers and Doberman pinschers and with constant barking, the children at the camp could be injured or upset.

Last try

The application had been adjourned in June to give McCallum and Cedano more time to provide specific details about their plan.

"The only house that can see the dogs in the yard is my immediate next-door neighbor..." Cedano told the zoning board last Wednesday. "You won’t even be able to see the fence from the northwest side; you can see part of it from the southeast side."

The application, he said, is for "three dogs extra in a rural area where deer, chipmunks, muskrat, and other wildlife are; there’s no environmental impact."

Cedano added that he’d be more concerned that a squirrel would attack his neighbors than one of his dogs.

The kennel would be inside the house, he said, with "portable, chainlink kennels" outside, but hidden from view.

Zoning board alternate Tom Remmert, who was filling in for Patricia Aikens, said he went to the property that morning and could see the kennels from the road.

"To stand there and say they’re not there is not true," Remmert said.

"They’re not going to be there," Cedano said.

"Are you going to take care of that in the same manner in which you took care of the problems Mr. Stone listed"" Remmert asked, referring to code-enforcement officer Rodger Stone. Earlier, the board discussed a year’s worth of zoning violations that Stone had issued to McCallum and Cedano because they own more than three dogs.

"If you go to the house right now, you’ll see one is up on an end," Cedano said of the cage. "We’ve already starting moving it. Once the fence is up, the final positioning will be done."

Chairman Bryan Clenahan asked if Cedano had tried to reach a resolution with his neighbors, as the board had recommended at the last meeting.

"No," Cedano said. "The only reason we’re trying to get the kennel license is so we don’t have to kill two dogs."

If the town doesn’t grant the variance, he said, he will have to find homes for three of his dogs. Two are very old, he said.

"They’re too old," he said. "Nobody is going to adopt them; they’ll get euthanized."

Proposed solution

Board member James Sumner asked Cedano how many dogs is too many. If he has six now, and is allowed to breed more, he might have 12 or 18 later, Sumner said.

"We have people interested in the Doberman puppies that she hasn’t even had yet," Cedano said. "The others may take longer, but they will be indoors in the basement. The noise will be minimal."

"What’s your long-term goal for dogs over the age of six months"" asked board member Klaer.

"None," Cedano said. "The puppies go right away and the older dogs, as soon as they die, we’ll have three."

"Three dogs over six months is permitted without a kennel variance," Klaer said. "If you want to keep two more, while you’re waiting for them to pass, maybe we can change it to a variance instead of a kennel application."

"Maybe there’s room for compromise about the older dogs, but I can’t see how a kennel is not changing the character of the neighborhood," Clenahan said.

He went on, "We’ve heard virtually all your neighbors express the same concerns...I don’t know that you’ve even responded to that, except by saying that your dogs are fine."

"This isn’t a problem with the dogs," said Cedano. "This is a problem with people."

His neighbors don’t like him, Cedano said, and they’ve sent the police to his house — for dog complaints — when the dogs were not outside that day.

"When you have that many neighbors expressing concern that it’s going to change the character of the neighborhood, that’s pretty convincing," Clenahan said.

Cedano insisted that the character of the neighborhood won’t be changed. "The neighbors’ dogs and cats run all over our yard," he said.

Dog owners have lived on Leesome Lane and their pets haven’t been a problem for Camp Wildwood, Klaer said.

"Enforcement of problem dogs probably needs to be more strict," Klaer said, "for the sake of the children at Wildwood."

Klaer proposed that the board approve the variance for a limited time. When the older dogs die, the approval will be removed, he said.

"That would be great," Cedano said.

"I’m outraged to think you’d suggest that someone in violation of the law be extended some courtesy," said Richard Powell, of Leesome Lane. "You’re telling them that’s against the law, but, if we grant a special-use permit, that’s okay."

"If you spend the rest of the evening here, you’ll see many things that are granting forgiveness rather than permission," Klaer said.

"With all due respect to the board and to my neighbors, we already have a situation that’s not in compliance," said Dan Sheridan. "I’m very concerned about future compliance. As their immediate neighbor, following the rules, my concerns should be looked at equally, rather than looking for a way to bail them out."

Board member Sharon Cupoli then addressed Klaer’s compromise.

"As much as you’re trying to give them a way out, Chuck, and I know you’re a dog lover...it’s going to come down to always being an enforcement issue," she said. "Maybe it’s better we let the dogs die gracefully being owned by a number of individuals, rather than these two individuals."

After some more brief discussion, the board then voted, six to one, against the application.

As Klaer cast the sole dissenting vote, he apologized to Cedano and McCallum for not being more persuasive.

McCallum cried, cursed her neighbors, and walked out mumbling, "Dogs are going to die."

Well concerns on Brandle Road

By Nicole Fay Barr

GUILDERLAND — Many residents on Brandle Road have questions and concerns about Altamont’s plans to pump water for village residents and for a proposed senior-housing complex.

As they shared these issues with the town’s zoning board last week, some said, since the village has done exploratory drilling, they’ve had problems with dirty water.

The zoning board then hired a town-designated engineer to study the effects that new village wells, on Brandle Road, have on the quality and quantity of neighbors’ wells.

What complicates matters is that the village is part of a lawsuit triangle over the issue. The zoning board can’t approve anything until these issues are settled, Chairman Bryan Clenahan said.

Lawsuit triangle

Michael and Nancy Trumpler own land on rural Brandle Road outside the village where Altamont drilled and found water. The Trumplers signed a contract last year agreeing to sell about five acres, with the wells, to the village.

A few months later, the Guilderland Town Board re-zoned land on Brandle Road, just outside the village, for Jeff Thomas to build a senior housing complex; the village promised Thomas water then, even though it had a moratorium on granting water outside village limits.

(Thomas will present his plans for the senior-housing complex to the Guilderland Zoning Board on Aug. 3.)

The Trumplers were upset because earlier they had to scale back plans for a place for Nancy Trumpler’s elderly mother to live because of town zoning. They also said they had been told that their well would be used only for water in the village.

In March, the Trumplers filed papers in Albany County Supreme Court to have a judge decide whether the village’s contract for the five-acre site is legal and binding; they sought no money from the village.

The village responded by filing counterclaims, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars, against the Trumplers.

In June, Thomas sued the Trumplers for $17 million, over what he called the "tortuous interference" with his plans to build a senior-housing project. His lawyer claimed the suit was not over money; Thomas just wanted the Trumplers to drop their suit.
Appearance confusion

The village is asking the zoning board for a special-use permit "to develop a municipal groundwater source with two submersible well pumps, a 12-foot by 18-foot well house building, and a 750-foot access road from Brandle Road."

The village obtained conceptual approval from the town’s planning board in June, but it still needs final approval. At last Wednesday’s meeting, zoning board members seems confused that the village was before them, prior to getting planning board approval.

Richard Straut, of Barton & Loguidice, the engineering firm representing the village, told the zoning board that the town planner sent him there.

"We can’t give approval with outstanding conditions," said zoning board Chairman Bryan Clenahan, citing the lawsuit as one of those conditions.

"We’re driving different horses at the same time," village attorney E. Guy Roemer told the zoning board. "I’m handling the lawsuit...but we can proceed."

"It makes more sense to get the special-use permit first before the expense of getting a detailed report to go before the planning board," Straut said.

"I’ve never had a situation where we did this first," Clenahan said.

"Somebody has to be first," said Straut. "I guess we’ll have to decide."

"I don’t see how the planning board’s not first," said Clenahan.

Zoning board attorney Janet Thayer then read part of the law that says the planning board decision must be first.

The village will not go back before the zoning board now until it gets final planning approval.

Still, the zoning board designated an engineer to create a hydrology report, exploring the effects of the quality and quantity of nearby wells. It also heard public comments.

Public concerns

Rex Simpson, who owns property adjacent to the Trumplers on Brandle Road, said he’s had problems with his well. Since the village has done exploratory drilling on the Trumpler property, Simpson has had dirty water for four months, he said.

At the end of May, Michael Trumpler told The Enterprise that, for several weeks, the water that has come out of his taps has been brown and undrinkable. The village had drilled a well for the Trumplers as part of the agreement.

Altamont’s mayor, James Gaughan, said then that the village was looking into the Trumplers’ problem. Straut told The Enterprise then that the problems with the Trumplers’ water are in no way related to the nearby village wells and do not indicate that the future village water supply could become polluted.

"The village wells are drilled to a much different standard than residential wells," Straut said in May.

"We’re all very concerned about the value of water on our properties," Ted Danz, who lives behind the Trumplers on Gardner Road, told the zoning board last Wednesday. "A lot of people don’t know about this pumping station."

Since the town only notifies residents so many feet from a property of a zoning application, and Brandle Road is rural with houses spread far apart, not many people know of the village’s plans, Danz said.

"I’m not against the [senior] home, or the water, I just want to make sure my rights aren’t violated," Danz said.

Later, Straut said, "Having a safe, reliable drinking water supply is important to the quality of the community. We don’t take well contamination lightly."

Simpson also asked about noise from the village’s well pump. If the village pumps water to Camp Wildwood, he said, "I can’t imagine pumping that volume will be very quiet."

Gary Milford, of Camp Wildwood, later said that the summer camp for disabled children trucks in 4,000 gallons of water every two to three days. It is located on Leesome Lane, just outside the village limits, on the southwest side.

The camp supports the special-use permit, Milford said, because it will allow the camp to get village water. The camp will pay to pump the water and the pump will be on Leesome Lane, on the camp’s property, he said. (The mother of a child who attended Camp Wildwood has written a letter to the Enterprise editor this week about the water crisis.)

Simpson also raised concerns about added traffic from Thomas’s senior-housing complex.

Elizabeth Mack, of Brandle Road, which is on the southeast side of the village, said she’s upset that water lines will be laid across her property.

"I have to give easement rights for 30 acres," she said. "That’s wrong. If the village wants water, send it down Brandle Road...Now I have to pay for a lawyer to make sure the easement is done properly."

"This project is not tied to the development of the senior center or Camp Wildwood," said Straut. "It’s because of the need of the village today to serve people in and around the village."

He continued, "The water will not go into the senior center unless the village has resolved this issue....With respect to the easements, we’re not here to talk about that tonight. We have no intent to disrupt anybody’s property. The final alignment is not determined."

Simpson came back to the podium. He questioned the adequacy of the well testing.

"I’m not paying hundreds of dollars a year to pay for filters that I didn’t have to have before," he said.

Christine Capuano, who is married to Nancy Trumpler’s brother, said, "The village has not talked to any well owners about a possible plan if a well is affected."

Capuano, who, with her husband, bought land from the Trumplers, questioned the village’s promising water to the senior-housing complex earlier this year. She wrote a letter to the Enterprise editor this week expressing the same concerns.

Environmental concerns raised over Industrial Park

By Nicole Fay Barr

GUILDERLAND — The Northeastern Industrial Park, which is on the site of a former Army depot in Guilderland Center, wants to build in two places that the Army has classified as areas of concern, or sites that were determined to be a risk to human health.

This inflames local activists, who for years have been trying to warn residents about toxic waste buried at the former Army depot. The buried materials affect almost everyone in town because tributaries to the Watervliet Reservoir, Guilderland’s main source of drinking water, run through the industrial park.

This week, Charles Rielly told The Enterprise of his concerns with the industrial park’s latest plans. Rielly is co-chair of the Restoration Advisory Board — a group, formed by the Army Corps of Engineers, of citizens and government officials.

Rielly worries that, if residents don’t speak out against the proposal, the town will approve it without question.

"To me, Guilderland is playing Russian roulette with the Watervliet Reservoir," he told The Enterprise.

Town Supervisor Kenneth Runion responded through The Enterprise that he sees problems with the environmental-impact statement, such as its traffic analysis.

These issues will come out during the town board’s public comment period, on Sept. 6. The board then may approve all, some, or none of the industrial park’s plans for new development, Runion said.

The town has been waiting since 1999 for the industrial park to submit its environmental impact study. The town and zoning board decided then that the industrial park was appearing before the zoning board too frequently for new development, Runion said.

While adding individual warehouses to the industrial park does not create a significant impact, many businesses do, he said. The town then asked the industrial park for an environmental-impact study.

In 2000, the town’s leverage for getting the study was placing a hold on any further permits the industrial park applied for from the zoning board.

In June of 2003, however, the zoning board granted the industrial park a special-use permit for a wood and lawn waste mulching business. The town became the industrial park’s partner in the business.

Some residents were outraged and Runion said then that the zoning hold was only on new buildings at the industrial park.

Before the 2003 election, The Enterprise asked Runion and the campaigning board members about cracking down harder on the industrial park. They all said then that the industrial park told them it was submitting its environmental impact study very soon.

Six years after the industrial park was to submit a masterplan, the draft of an environmental study was announced, at the July 12 town board meeting. Residents can comment on the study at the town board’s Sept. 6 public hearing and they have an additional 10 days after that to submit written comments.

The Galesi Group, which owns the industrial park, could not be reached for comment this week.

Statement summary

The industrial park is located on 550 acres in Guilderland Center, along Route 146 and Depot Road. The industrial park has been in operation since 1969 and contains 2.9 million square feet of warehouse space.

The industrial park is highly secure and its contents are a mystery to many Guilderland residents.

Not all of the buildings in the industrial park are owned by the Galesi Group. Two buildings are for the town’s water- and wastewater-treatment plants; a grain elevator is owned by the United Co-op Farmers; and three buildings are owned by Avenue B, C, & E, LLC.

The industrial park area includes a mix of upland deciduous forests, a large landscaped area, and meadowy fields, according to the environmental-impact statement. The blunt-lobe grape fern, an endangered vascular plant, is among the industrial park’s vegetation, the statement says.

Also, Indiana bats, a federally-listed endangered species, and small-footed bats live in the area.

According to Clough, Harbour & Associates, the engineering firm that created the environmental-impact statement, it is not anticipated that the fern or the endangered bats will be affected by future development at the industrial park.

Land use at the industrial park is primarily warehouses and offices to support the warehouses, the statement says. Surrounding the industrial park are: the CSX railroad, along the eastern edge; residences and the Guilderland High School, to the north; residences, agricultural land, and forested land, to the west; and industrial, residential, agricultural, and forested land, to the south.

A cultural resource survey has been conducted at the site, the report says. Within two miles of the industrial park are 22 previously-reported archeological sites, it says. However, it says, little or no information exists about these sites.

The part of the industrial park owned by the Galesi Group consists of five different tax parcels, the statement says. The entire park is in an Empire Zone, so there is an exemption from town and school taxes for a 10-year period.

The report states that new development at the industrial park would be a "revenue generator" for the school district because there are no children living on the site.

Much of the three-inch-thick environmental-impact statement is devoted to the study of traffic issues at the industrial park. In the next 10 years, the report says, new development will generate 845 new vehicle trips in the morning and 922 new vehicle trips in the evening.

"The additional trucks generated by the build-out of the masterplan would not change the overall characteristics of traffic flow on the adjacent roadway network," the statement says.

Recommendations are made, however, for: a traffic signal at Route 146 and Van Buren Boulevard and four-way stop signs at Depot and Meadowdale roads.

Traffic is one of many big issues at the industrial park, Rielly told The Enterprise. Three or four intersections at the industrial park have an accident rate higher than state averages, he said.

New development

According to the environmental-impact statement, the industrial park’s yet-to-be-revealed masterplan proposes 1.6 million square feet of new industrial use; 160,000 square feet of office use; and 190,000 square feet of research and development use. Also to be built are: a truck stop with a 16-unit motel; a convenience store; a diner; a fuel station; restrooms with showers; and 30 tractor-trailer spaces with hook-ups. These are to be used by park tenants rather than the general public.

"Work proposed under the masterplan includes construction at locations noted within the report as being areas of concern," the report states.

The Army used the site for storage and transport from the 1940’s until the depot closed in 1969. Adequate records were not kept of where wastes were buried and the Army Corps of Engineers was assigned to assess the environmental damage stemming from the military use of the Former Schenectady Army Depot, Voorheesville Area.

Most of the former depot land now belongs to the Northeastern Industrial Park. In 2002 and 2003, The Enterprise ran a series of articles outlining the depot’s contamination and its health risks.

The Army formed the Restoration Advisory Board to assess the situation. For at least seven years, members of the board have been urging citizens and government officials to advocate the cleanup.

Since then, funding has been secured to clean up a former burn-pit (Area of Concern 3) from which a toxic plume is emanating. But, the money, about $500,000, was used instead to clean up a site by Guilderland High School where the school district was building a new bus facility.

Last week, it was announced that $650,000 has been earmarked to clean up Area of Concern 2, a residential property on Depot Road, owned by Joan Burns. (See related story.)

The environmental-impact statement briefly outlines development to be built on areas of concern 1 and 7.

AOC 1, the United States Army Southern Landfill, in the southern portion of the depot next to the railroad tracks and bounded by Depot Road, has a pond on the site. It is about 1,500 feet from the main channel of the Black Creek and is classified as a Class 2 site by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, meaning it is a significant threat.

AOC 7, the Triangular Disposal Area, in the southeast end, roughly between AOC 1 and 4. has buried debris such as railroad ties and glass bottles.

The report also says that construction could impact AOC 8, the Black Creek, which flows through the property and into the Watervliet Reservoir, Guilderland’s major source of drinking water.

"A lot of building is taking place on AOC’s 1 and 7," Rielly said. "These areas are really seriously polluted."

"We are very much against that," said Thadeus Ausfeld, co-chair with Rielly of the advisory board, at its meeting last Thursday. "....The residents of Guilderland Center should be informed by the town. People living there will be affected."

Supervisor Runion responded through The Enterprise that the town advertised that the report is available through legal notices and other means.

And, he told The Enterprise, "You’re going to write a story on it. We went well beyond what we were required to do."

Gregory Goepfert, the Army Corps of Engineers’ project manager, had not known about the industrial park report, he said last Thursday.

"The property owner is well aware of the AOC," Goepfert said at last week’s meeting. "I have to find out the depth of our authority. This is private property." He said later that he’s not going to do anything until he consults with the Galesi Group.

"We’re spending tax dollars on AOC 1 and for them to just tear it apart," said Ausfeld. "...It’s right next to the Black Creek. They’re going to discharge more into the Black Creek."

"I don’t think the town board had a sense of what the implication would be, or they’d have representatives at this meeting," said Joan Kappel, also an advisory board member.

At nearly every advisory board meeting, members have expressed frustration that no town board members had attended.

"That committee was formed to represent the public and the town," Runion told The Enterprise. "I don’t see Joan Kappel attending our meetings; I don’t see Ted Ausfeld attending our meetings."

He continued, "They are a committee that has specific functions and it doesn’t necessarily require town board members to attend. We’re not at zoning and planning board meetings because we trust our committee members will do their jobs and represent the public."

From reading the report, Rielly told The Enterprise, he assumes that the industrial park won’t build on the areas of concern until the toxic waste is cleaned up.

But, he said, there is no funding to clean up these areas now. He questioned how long the industrial park will wait until it decides to build.

The environmental-impact statement also says that new development will create new stormwater runoff. But, it says, "a stormwater pollution prevention plan would be prepared and implemented for each proposed construction site to specify construction operation control practices and to reduce the generation of pollutants and contact of rainfall with pollutants."

Further information is needed from the United States Army, the report says, on how "groundwater quality could be compromised by the leaching of certain substances from above-ground storage of various types of material."

The studies the report bases its findings on are outdated, Rielly said.

"The two studies they’re referring to are from 1997 and ’98," he said. The Army Corps of Engineers, he said, "has done a lot more studies regarding pollution since then."

"Their past record isn’t good," Rielly said of the industrial park. It had hundreds of wrecked cars on the property, possibly leaking oil into the Black Creek, he said.

"According to the town board meeting, the only thing that will delay the adoption is public comments," Rielly said.

He could not attend the last town board meeting on July 12, he said, when the board declared the draft of the environmental impact statement to be complete.

Rielly was upset, he said, as he watched a tape of the board meeting, when Councilman David Bosworth said with a smile that, because Rielly was not at the meeting, everything must be okay with the report.

The board then announced that, from July 12, the public has until Sept. 6 to read the report. It is available at the Guilderland Public Library and Town Hall.

Rielly and other advisory members are going to thoroughly examine the industrial park’s report and draft written comments, he said. Since it’s summer, many advisory board members are out of town, giving them less time to devote to studying the report, he said.

The restoration advisory board has been working on contamination problems at the former Army depot for years, but members were allowed no input on the report until now, Rielly said.

"We know it’s private property," he said of the industrial park. "We can’t go on it. We’re not welcome."

He concluded, "Nobody was concerned with the availability of gas until the prices went higher...We’re a crisis society." Until Guilderland residents turn on their taps and see dirty water, they won’t respond, he said.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer contributed reporting from the July 21 restoration advisory board meeting.

New nursing home proposed

By Nicole Fay Barr

GUILDERLAND — While many agree that another nursing home on Mercycare Lane is a good idea, some have reservations about added traffic to the "dangerous" intersection of Mercycare Lane and Route 20.

The town’s zoning board last Wednesday decided to continue an application for a new complex for the elderly until an engineer can explore traffic and other issues.

First Columbia wants to construct an "assisted-living facility" with 84 beds on Mercycare Lane, behind the already-existing Our Lady of Mercy Life Center. The building would be two-and-a-half stories, accommodating three floors.

A plan for a similar facility, to be called Rosewood Estates, was approved by the town in 1998. First Columbia had "partnership issues that fell through," said representative Mark Bette of why the first project didn’t happen.

"This is a rejuvenation of the 1998 project," said Bette. "Then we were a 106-unit facility. We’ve downsized, but we’re going to use the exact same parcel."

The proposal uses one-and-a-half acres of a six-acre, heavily-treed parcel.

"We feel, as we did in ’98, that there is a great need for this facility," said Bette.

Mercycare Lane, off of a busy stretch of Route 20, is a dead-end road that currently serves the Our Lady of Mercy center, the St. Peter’s Addiction Recovery Center, and the Guilderland Public Library. A large number of emergency vehicles already need access to the road, said town planner Jan Weston. She worries that the lane can’t handle more traffic.

But, in comments to the zoning board, Weston also wrote that the new facility, "would be a great asset to the town."

Mercycare Lane is a block from Windingbrook Drive, which leads to the Fairwood Apartments and the Guilderland YMCA and ends at Nott Road. A few years ago, studies were conducted that resulted in a traffic light being installed on Route 20 and Windingbrook Drive.

Library representatives and others wanted a light at Mercycare Lane, but were denied.

Last Wednesday, many questions were raised about whether it was safe to add more traffic to Mercycare Lane.

A portion of Windingbrook Drive can be built to connect to Mercycare Lane, Bette said, but the lane is owned by the Mercycare corporation and he doesn’t know how it feels about such a project.

Weston and zoning board Chairman Bryan Clenahan suggested that Mercycare Lane become a town road.

Clenahan reported that the town supervisor told him the highway superintendent, Todd Gifford, has no problem with making Mercycare Lane a town road. But, he said, the road has to be brought up to town specifications.

Making Mercycare Lane a town road has been discussed for years, Gifford told The Enterprise this week. Work must be done on the road first, he said, but he is not opposed to the idea.

"The ball is in their court," Gifford said of Mercycare Lane.

He added that a connection exists between Mercycare Lane and Windingbrook Drive. That path has to be upgraded to accommodate vehicle traffic, he said. Most of Windingbrook Drive is a town road.

At last Wednesday’s meeting, Clenahan said he’s not sure how much more volume Windingbrook Drive can handle. It’s an unlit, curvy road with a lot of residences, he said.

"We’re not relying on it as our primary access road," Bette said.

But, he said, signs can direct people to use Windingbrook Drive to access Mercycare Lane when traffic is busy.

Several residents, who waited for four hours, then had their chance to speak. First was Robert Ganz, president of the Guilderland library’s board of trustees.

In general, the library is "thrilled" that more senior citizens will live in this part of town, Ganz said. He expects the library will have more elderly patrons as a result, he said.

But, he said, for years the library has been reaching out to various agencies — the state’s Department of Transportation, the town supervisor, the Guilderland Police — about the traffic problem on Mercycare Lane. A petition was signed by 750 people earlier, saying a traffic light was wanted there, he said.

Last week, Ganz went on, a librarian’s car was hit as she tried to turn onto Route 20 from Mercycare Lane. She spent five days in the hospital, he said.

"Making it a public road is not enough," Ganz said. "We must have the town or state prohibit left turns from Mercycare Lane...If they don’t do that, we’ll all meet at funerals."

"You have the opportunity to prevent what potentially could be a serial tragedy," said Brian Hartson, a library trustee. "It’s a disaster waiting to happen."

Laurel Bohl, who lives on Western Avenue, 100 feet from Mercycare Lane, told the board that she was in a serious car accident trying to turn into her driveway. Her mother, too, was in a similar accident, she said.

"A good solution is to extend the median strip in the middle," Bohl said. "You can’t divert traffic from Mercycare Lane without a light or a median. New signage to direct people to Windingbrook Drive won’t do it."

She also expressed concerns about the height of the proposed building. It may ruin the view, she said, and it may be hard to evacuate three floors in case of an emergency.

The board then decided to designate Delaware Engineering to explore the issues of traffic, parking, access, lighting, stormwater management, landscaping, and wetlands.

Details on cleanup of Burns’s property — what’s next"

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — With funding on the horizon for clean-up of the Army’s former bivouac area, good will abounded at the meeting last Thursday of the Restoration Advisory Board.

Board members, mostly local citizens, had earlier pushed for the clean-up and Gregory Goepfert, project manager from the Army Corps of Engineers, read a statement commending the board’s co-chairs.

"Words of thanks are in order for all citizen members of the Restoration Advisory Board, and for the notable efforts of Messrs. Charles Rielly and Ted Ausfeld for their dedication to their community...," said Goepfert.

"We’re pleased you’re getting started," said Rielly, a Guilderland resident who, with Ausfeld, serves as community co-chair of the board.

"We don’t want to jinx it," cautioned Goepfert, noting the funding is not yet official. "We have to finalize the remedial document," he said.

Federal funds of $650,000 are expected for the cleanup project, with work slated to begin in the fall. Drums filled with a tar substance and bottles with paint residue and ink will be dug out of the ground and taken away. The material will be taken to a licensed disposal facility, Goepfert said, and the project is expected to take two to three months.

Joan Burns and her late husband, Milton, bought their house and 40 acres on route 201 in 1963. The property was once part of the Army depot that was built in Guilderland and New Scotland in the 1940’s.

The Burnses bought their property from the General Services Administration when the depot was being phased out; they were not told about waste being buried there, Burns told The Enterprise earlier.

Burns, a nurse, said her family suffered "a lot of health problems" that she believes are associated with the buried waste.

Recent tests have shown that much of the buried waste on Burns's land is toxic and dangerous.

"The results of the samples showed that the materials had hazardous components to them," Goepfert told The Enterprise last week. "I was able to justify the removal based on these results."

Cleanup concerns

At last Thursday’s meeting, the Restoration Advisory Board discussed some of the fine points of the cleanup and some of the concerns.

One concern was that area wells could be affected by the toxic wastes.

"Albany County, the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Army Corps all said there were no problems...Now it’s in black and white," said Thadeus Ausfeld who, in addition to co-chairing the committee, operates the town’s water plant.

He was making the point that groundwater near the Burns property could be contaminated and that government agencies wouldn’t necessarily be aware of the contamination.

Heather Bishop, with the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, said, "Albany County should have information. I think we should do some site visits."

"We should look to see if problems show up at other sites," said Ausfeld.

"We’re good at bugging," said Rielly, with a laugh.

"So am I," returned Goepfert. "It’s a good idea to do a follow-up sample at the downstream well."

Another question was about the many small pill bottles surfacing on Burns’s property; some of them contain salt.

"Since the pill bottles don’t test hazardous, FUDS won’t fund their removal," said Goepfert, referring to the Defense Environmental Restoration Program for Formerly Used Defense Sites.

George Moreau with Parsons, Engineering Science, Inc. a firm hired by the Army Corps of Engineers, said that the sodium would have to have a pH below 2 or above 12 to be considered hazardous and the pill bottles on the Burns property do not meet this criteria.

Goepfert said the pill bottles will be removed if "impractical to leave behind."

Rielly asked about other substances "above criteria."

"The fact that there’s background doesn’t mean they have to be removed," said Moreau. "It’s not a health threat or they aren’t hazardous."

Moreau also said, "We found pesticides all over the site...There's nothing to connect it to the Army’s activities; it seems to be pretty widespread."

Burns’s queries

Goepfert also looked at a letter from Burns, delivered by Ausfeld.

Burns is a RAB member but was unable to attend last week’s meeting.

"She asked what happens if DOD [Department of Defense] materials were found in the future," Goepfert related after perusing the letter.

Goepfert answered the question, "We continue to have that liability basically forever."

"She bought this innocently, thinking this was a commander’s bivouac area, not a landfill," said Rielly. "I think she’s concerned about someone else" being caught in the same situation should she sell the property.

Burns told The Enterprise last week that she is undecided about selling her property in the near future.

Goepfert went on, relating a question from Burns's letter: How many years of post-removal sampling"

"We’re not planning any long-term sampling," he said, adding, "A lot of judgment will happen in the field."

Reservoir concerns

RAB member Joan Kappel, an Altamont resident, said, "In that area of town, the water table has risen...Farmers used to keep the streams clear....I think the beavers have had something to do with it, too; they’re very active."

Rielly raised a concern that board members have voiced before. He said that the Black Creek, which runs near Burns’s property, feeds the Watervliet Reservoir, Guilderland’s major source of drinking water. Rielly also mentioned a plan Watervliet is considering to raise the reservoir dam, flooding the area.

Rielly said this should justify testing the Black Creek sediment.

"Based on the data we’ve seen, we can’t see the justification," said Goepfert. "We do have a feasibility study we’re doing on the Black Creek."

Kappel wanted an estimate on the cost of sampling the delta, if, perhaps, a group besides the Army Corps were to pay for it.

Moreau replied it would depend on the scope — how many samples, how deep, and analyzed for what — but could range from $10,000 to $100,000.

"What would be needed to establish a link between what’s upstream and what’s downstream"" asked Kappel.

"You’d have to show the same contaminants," responded Goepfert. But then, he said, that wouldn’t be enough since the contaminants could have come from somewhere besides the Army depot.

Goepfert gave the example of lead, used in gasoline, which could have migrated into the creek.

Rielly said it could be determined from the sediment roughly when a hazardous material was deposited.

What’s next"

Subject to the availability of funds, Goepfert said, plans for the 2006 fiscal year, which begins in October, include feasibility studies for two other areas of concern.

The Army Corps of Engineers has classified nine areas of concern or places that were determined to be a risk to human health.

In the 1940’s, the United States Army chose a site near the Black Creek in Guilderland Center for a depot. The Army diverted the creek into two halves and, as was common practice in that era, sent waste into the creek or buried it on site or possible near the site. The depot closed in 1969.

Most of the former depot land now belongs to the Northeastern Industrial Park.

The Army Corps of Engineers was assigned to assess the environmental damage stemming from the military use of the depot, which was originally farmland and swamp.

Three years ago, Goepfert secured FUDS funding, originally intended to clean up a former burn pit, called AOC 3, from which a toxic plume is emanating. The money was used instead to clean up a site by Guilderland High School where the school district was building a new bus facility and old Army waste had been unexpectedly uncovered. The cleanup cost about half-a-million dollars.

The two areas that are slated for further study in 2006 are AOC 1, the United States Army Southern Landfill, and AOC 8, the Black Creek.

AOC 1 is in the southern portion of the depot next to the railroad tracks and bounded by Route 201 (Depot Road) near where it meets Stone Road. There is a pond on the site, about 1,500 feet from the main channel of the Black Creek and is classified as a Class 2 site by the DEC.

"We’d like to bring AOC 7 into that," said Goepfert of the feasibility study on the southern landfill.

AOC 7, known as the Triangular Disposal Area, is in the southeast end, roughly between AOC 1 and AOC 4, the Construction and Demolition Landfill. Buried debris such as railroad ties and glass bottles have been discovered in the Triangular Disposal Area.

"We do look for public involvement in this process," said Goepfert.

"The Black Creek is a major concern," concluded Ausfeld. "We have to do everything we can do make sure it’s protected."

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