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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, December 27, 2007
2007 in review: New Scotland
Dolin wins, replaces retired Clark,
town turned 175, tower OKd, senior-housing law delayed
By Melissa Hale-Spencer
NEW SCOTLAND The town turned 175 this year. Its supervisor marked the occasion by cutting a cake during the annual Heritage Day in Clarksville.
History was celebrated that August day with a display of gleaming antique cars, a walk that recognized the unique geological features of the area, and a festive firehouse dance.
New Scotland is a place that values its history. This spring, Gail Sacco, the director of the Voorheesville Public Library, spoke of her dream of creating a regional documentary research center. (This year, too, the library has surveyed residents on how the well-used and cramped library should use the adjacent six acres it purchased through public vote.)
Archivists approached nearby towns to gauge their interest in the research center, and to view and inventory those towns’ records. The library has a small grant to start the work. "There’s something about the original that’s quite magical," said Sacco of historic documents.
Earlier, in April, a solemn look at world history, seen through the eyes of hometown heroes, commenced. The New Scotland Historical Association opened a museum exhibit honoring New Scotland veterans of the two world wars. Re-enactors displayed World War II Jeeps and World War I tents. Some of those honored were long gone. Others were still alive to share their stories.
Marion Parmenter spent countless hours in the library going through letters that ran in The Enterprise, written during World War I from soldiers to their families at home.
Joe Lambert of New Salem wrote from St. Cornelius, France on Dec. 22, 1918: "Well, the war is over, and when I think of the things I have seen and done and gone through, I have the horrors. I have eaten and slept among the dead...I have seen all the misery and suffering I care to, but I am willing to do it again if need be."
Steve Walley, at 83, was able to share his memories as a veteran of World War II. A radioman, he recalled when the plane he was on was hit by ground fire. "We went down into the water... We had no chance to use a parachute," he said.
His plane hit the water with its right wing and nose, and spun around, he said. Walley was able to climb out onto the wing; he was the only survivor. "That was one harrowing experience," he said.
Later, he survived the sinking of the USS St. Lo. It was the first ship to be sunk by a kamikaze.
Not all contributions are so dramatic.
A piece of New Scotland history died this year with the passing in March of Howard Coughtry a gentle man of iron. He died at his home on Hilton Road. He was 86 and knew his land and his home more intimately than most. His life was intertwined with the town. He met his wife, Jannette Kling Coughtry, at Voorheesville Elementary School and married her after he returned from serving in the Air Corps during World War II.
A master carpenter, Coughtry did most of the woodworking in the 200-year-old house he turned into a workshop in the front of his Hilton Road property. Robin Coughtry, said his father would often work late into the night when he and his brother and sister were young. But, he said, "He always came down to tuck us in."
Many local families looked forward to an annual trek to the Coughtrys’ land to select the perfect Christmas tree. Robin Coughtry said that the business had never been about money. "It was fun doing it with my father," he said.
Throughout his manhood, Coughtry was a dedicated Boy Scout. When he was young, he didnt have the money to buy a uniform, his son said. Coughtry introduced generations of boys to the adventure of scouting. Troop 73 often met and camped on his land. In regular columns submitted to The Enterprise, Coughtry detailed Scout adventures and waxed philosophical on life.
The town this year chose a new leader and perhaps a new direction. Supervisor Ed Clark did not seek re-election. At 71, he is retiring after 23 years of public service six as supervisor and 17 before that as mayor of Voorheesville.
Clark, who ran on the Republican line, presided over a politically split board without ever having the majority, which he found frustrating. The town supervisor has relatively little power compared to the mayor of the village, he said this fall. "The town board decides everything; the supervisor is just the administrator," said Clark.
"One of the reasons I’m leaving is that I’m tired of watching what I consider poor management practices, " said Clark, adding that, if the supervisor were to be among the board’s majority, "It would be possible to accomplish a great deal more."
At his penultimate meeting, in November, Clark cast the only opposing vote on the towns $5.5 million budget for 2008. He strongly disagreed with the higher tax rate as well as decisions on the salaries of town employees.
Democratic Councilman Richard Reilly told Clark that his "no" vote "speaks volumes about your legacy."
"Everything that happens in town happens by their approval or their design," Clark said later of the Democrats. "It’s not my legacy."
The race to replace Clark was a close one ultimately decided by just 35 votes.
Democrat Thomas Dolin, a retired lawyer stepped down as town justice to run for supervisor. When he announced his run in mid-May, he stressed the importance of the town’s enacting "a policy of smart, controlled, responsible growth."
He said, "We obviously have to try and attract some commercial enterprises" in an attempt to combat the school-tax burden, which many residents feel is "becoming unbearable."
Dolin was challenged by Republican Councilman Douglas LaGrange, an eighth-generation dairy farmer.
"New Scotland is at a crossroads with planning," LaGrange said when he announced his run in June.
A tech park is being built in the northeast corner of New Scotland by Vista Technologies. A quarter of its 440-acre campus falls in New Scotland; the rest is in the neighboring town of Bethlehem. Plans call for 15 to 20 buildings containing 1.4 million square feet of commercial space, primarily for offices, research facilities and labs.
That same quadrant of New Scotland is facing intense development pressure as developments have been proposed on Krumkill Road, Hilton road, Route 85, and Route 85A.
LaGrange said he saw planning to preserve rural character as a defining issue in the election. He cited his "cumulative experience" with town issues four years on the planning board and work with the Residents Planning Advisory Committee as well as two years on the town board.
Democrats carried the day on Nov. 6. Come Jan. 1, Dolin will have the majority Clark had pined for. The two Democratic town board members Reilly and Deborah Baron easily bested their Republican challengers, meaning the town board will retain its Democratic majority.
Of the 6,080 registered voters in New Scotland, 35 percent are enrolled as Democrats, 28 percent as Republicans, 29 percent are not enrolled in a party, and less than 1 percent are enrolled in small parties. About 45 percent of registered New Scotland voters turned out for this years election.
Reilly, a lawyer, garnered 29 percent of the vote, while Baron, a school tax collector, got 28 percent.
Challengers Gary Schultz, a businessman enrolled as a Conservative, got 22 percent of the vote, and Charles Voss, a professional planner, got 21 percent. Both were making their first run for town board.
In a four-way race for two judgeships, results were split. Incumbent Margaret Adkins got the most votes, followed by Democratic candidate David Wukitsch who was appointed in May after Dolin stepped down to run for supervisor.
The Democratic clerk, Diane Deschenes, won in a landslide against newcomer Republican Penny Barone, and the Democratic highway superintendent, Darrell Duncan, was unopposed.
Two of the most controversial planning issues in New Scotland this year involved senior housing and a cell tower in a historic cemetery.
A law was proposed this summer that would allow senior housing developments in all zones in town, including the commercial district along Route 85, where developer Charles Carrow has proposed 15 duplexes behind a medical center that he built.
Robert Baron, husband of Councilwoman Baron, is a business associate of Carrow. Baron would act as the project contractor for the development if the plans were approved, he told The Enterprise.
The 6.9 acre site on Route 85 has the potential for both town sewer and water, unlike much of New Scotland.
Some residents and town officials criticized the proposal for lacking standards to accommodate the needs of the elderly. Another complaint was that the bill was drafted specifically for one developer Carrow.
Reilly, who was largely responsible for drafting the bill, said that Carrow’s proposal "brought to the forefront" the need for this type of law. "Particular applications will highlight for us things we need to work on," he said at the time.
He gave as an example Henry Digeser’s proposal to put a windmill on his Copeland Hill Road property. "Town law simply didn’t provide for what he was trying to do," said Reilly, adding that adjustments would be made to allow for alternative energy sources.
After sharp criticism, Reilly agreed with the rest of the town board to send the proposal for the senior overlay district to the planning board for further review and recommendations. The planning board is chaired by Robert Stapf who also helped write the bill and has spoken in support of it.
A proposal for a cell-phone tower caused some packed and heated sessions at Town Hall before a split planning board approved the project.
The 150-foot monopole will be built on land owned by the New Scotland Cemetery Association, located near the towns oldest church.
Without any financial assistance, the cemetery association can sustain itself for just two more years before it would, by law, have to turn the historic cemetery over to the town, said Arlene Herzog, a member of the cemetery association in October.
"As a community, we should find another way to support the cemetery," said resident Mardell Steinkamp, a member of the church, at an October public hearing on the cell tower proposal.
Proponents of the tower said it was needed to improve reception while opponents cited the historic value of the church.
In December, the planning board granted the controversial special-use permit to T-Mobile by a vote of 5 to 2.
Planning board member Charles Voss, who cast a dissenting vote, said that he is known to others as a resident of the "tower town." He suggested that flag or phone poles be used as stealth towers and he said the applicant hadn’t proved the need for coverage.
Planning board member Robert Smith, however, saw the tower as part of inevitable progress. He voted for the permit and said that 39 television towers have been erected in his "backyard" near Thacher Park.
"No one complained then," he said. "Cell phones are here to stay. If there’s an accident, I hope someone can call."
This year in review is based largely on reporting by Rachel Dutil.
2007 in review: Voorheesville
Village drowned in water issues, seniors move in, Krajewski pleads
By Saranac Hale Spencer
VOORHEESVILLE Water reigned supreme in the village this year, serving as a bargaining chip with development and a sign of intermunicipal cooperation.
With housing at the Colonie Country Club looming, residents of the nearby Scotch Pine development asked the village board to use water to leverage a deal for a buffer zone between the new houses and the decades-old Scotch Pine.
The part of New Scotland that the Amedore Homes subdivision is slated for, just outside of the village limits, is famously dry, so the houses to be built there would need to be on a municipal system. Village officials said that there is plenty of water to accommodate the new houses 33 houses, starting at $500,000 are planned and the higher water rate that the new residents would pay would generate income for the village, but Scotch Pine residents asked that the village withhold its water until developers agreed to a 50-foot buffer zone between Scotch Pine houses and any new construction.
In June, the village signed a contract agreeing to sell water to the town of New Scotland for use in the new development, providing that the buffer zone is maintained.
Also this year, the Village of Voorheesville and the Town of Guilderland built a water interconnect so that the two municipalities could share water, should the need arise.
New development at the center of the village carried on without controversy, as local developer Troy Miller took down the Severson House to make way for a senior housing complex.
The house, which had been home to the farmland that has become the Salem Hills development, stood on Maple Avenue for more than a century and drew a crowd when it was knocked down in May. By the time the leaves were falling, Miller had erected a residential complex with nine apartments.
Miller bought another piece of land in the village, 1.4 acres on Voorheesville Avenue, with the idea of building more senior housing. That land, which had been owned by the village, was assessed at $14,000 by the Town of New Scotland, but Millers company, CM Fox Living Solutions, bid $171,000 for the property.
Voorheesville native and one-time basketball coach, John Krajewski, pleaded guilty in September to endangering the welfare of a child. He was arrested and originally charged with three counts of second-degree rape, a felony; two counts of committing a second-degree criminal act, also a felony; and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, but ended up taking a plea deal that didnt include jail time. He will have three years of probation.
On Jan. 23, 2006, State Police arrested Krajewski and the Voorheesville School District fired him from his job as a teachers aide in the elementary school. Linda Langevin, the schools superintendent, said at the time that it was a coincidence that Krajewski was fired from his job on the same night that he was arrested; he didnt have the proper certification to be a teaching assistant, she said.
"Obviously this conviction and this offense is going to preclude certain occupations, teaching is one of them," Krajewski’s lawyer, Christopher Rutnik, said when asked if Krajewski would pursue a career in elementary education. He also said that Krajewski has no plans to coach basketball with minors in the future. Krajewski is working at a local bar and grill while he gets his life back on track, Rutnik said in September.
Two village board seats were up for grabs in 2007 and both incumbents stayed on, following an uncontested election.
William Hotaling, who serves as deputy mayor, was elected to his third four-year term with 50 votes and Trustee David Cardona started his second term after garnering 48 votes.
Both Hotaling and Cardona said after the election that, overall, they were pleased with the outcome and attributed the low voter turnout to the uncontested election and lack of controversial issues in the village.
"You’ve got to have an issue," said Hotaling of bringing more of the village’s 2,705 residents out to the polls.
Atlas Copco to get $700K in incentives from the state
By Saranac Hale Spencer
VOORHEESVILLE The villages largest business will be getting $700,000 in incentives from the state, the Empire State Development announced this month.
Atlas Copco Comptec LLC, located in the northwest part of Voorheesville, applied earlier this year for entrance into New Yorks Empire Zone program, which is designed to attract new businesses and encourage existing ones to grow by offering tax incentives.
Since Atlas Copco can be classified as a regionally significant manufacturing project, it can apply for Empire Zone status, wrote Randal Coburn, director of the Empire Zones Program, to Albany County Executive Michael Breslin in response to a request from Breslin in July. Coburn noted in the letter that the company would be obligated to add 50 new jobs by 2012, should it be "designated as a regionally significant project in 2007."
The company, a subsidiary of the Atlas Group, based in Sweden, manufactures large centrifugal compressors which are sold around the world for use in "Air Separation, Electronics, Chemical/Petrochem, Fuel Gas Desulphurization and waste water treatment," the company says.
"The business has increased very rapidly over the last 4 years which has led to an increase in employment of approximately 100 jobs," the company wrote in its application for entrance into the Empire Zone. "Currently new products are being developed to grow the business even further... In the upcoming 5 years we are projecting 67 new positions mainly in Engineering, Aftermarket and Production"
The application goes on to describe the duties of each position the company expects to fill. It also says, "We will try to accommodate all of the new jobs at our 46 School Road facility; however, due to some space constraints, it may be necessary to locate some of the new jobs at our 70 Karner Road facility."
On Sept. 10, the Albany County legislature voted unanimously to support the expansion of the Empire Zone to include Atlas Copcos 44.5 acre parcel in Voorheesville and 3.5 acre parcel in Colonie. On Nov. 27, the Voorheesville village board also voted unanimously to support the expansion of the Empire Zone into the village.
Providing that Atlas Copco meets the milestones, like job creation, it will receive a $500,000 Manufacturing Assistance Program capital grant to cover part of the cost of new machinery and equipment and a $200,000 capital grant to be used for "infrastructure and site work," according to a press release from Empire State Development.
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