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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 10, 2009

Village green goes modern as wireless Internet comes to Altamont

By Philippa Stasiuk

ALTAMONT — Come spring, the old-fashioned village green in the heart of Altamont will offer a new way for people to communicate.

Thanks to the Altamont Free Library and Key Bank, Wi-Fi is coming to Orsini Park, Mayor James Gaughan announced at the December board meeting last Tuesday.

Judith Wines, director of the Altamont Free Library, told The Enterprise that the park would have the only free public Internet access in the village.

“It’s more and more the province of libraries to provide that service, and we’re happy to do so,” she said. “From the library’s point of view, it seemed like an obvious extension of library services. We’re in the information provision business but we’re not open 24 hours a day.”

Wines said Key Bank not only provided $1,000 for the project, about half its cost, but that the antennas needed for wireless Internet, or Wi-Fi, would be located on the roof of the bank. The project costs include the new antennas, as well as upgraded hardware and the cost of installation.

Wi-Fi is short for wireless fidelity. It refers to a local area network which uses high frequency radio signals to send and receive data over short distances of about 200 feet.

Mayor Gaughan had spoken about Wi-Fi in the park as early as March 2006, saying he had a long-range plan to expand the service from he park to the whole village. He said then that Wi-Fi, in one-square-mile Altamont, would attract “clean energy” technology business and young professionals to the mostly residential village.

Wines talked about the library’s role in the village as another reason for Wi-Fi in the park.

“We see the role of the library as strengthening the sense of community in Altamont,” she said. “Now it already happens in the library when you see neighbors and exchange ideas. But having Wi-Fi in the park makes sense because more people are out in the public in the village and it will make it more of a village green.”

Wines said the library is planning a grand opening of Internet in the park sometime in the spring.

Other business

The board also:

— Heard from Fire Department Chief Paul Miller that the fire department received five calls in November and that the new tanker chassis will be ready and delivered by Jan. 15, 2010;

— Heard a complaint from Jim Gaige of 115 Prospect Terrace that he is unhappy with the fact that the light on the flag near the gazebo in Orsini Park has been out for over year. “When I left to go overseas last June and it was out,” he said. “The only reason we have the ability to be here is that people gave their life for the flag.”

Gaige also pointed to the flag in the corner of the village meeting hall and added, “And this flag you say the pledge to — you should be appalled. It should be replaced.”

Gaige told The Enterprise after the meeting that he is a builder chief with the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 27 and was stationed for seven months last year in Al Asad, Iraq.

The village’s Public Works Department replaced the light in Orsini Park following the meeting. Gaughan told The Enterprise that the Public Works department had changed the bulb numerous times in the last year and that they were looking into replacing the entire light fixture;

— Heard a complaint from Danny Ramirez of 141 Maple Ave. that the lights surrounding the automated teller machine at the State Employees’ Federal Credit Union at 763 Main St. no longer has deflectors, making the reflective glare of the lights dangerous during foul weather.

Donald Cropsey, zoning administrator, said he is working with property managers at the bank but that steps taken to improve the situation, like finding an adequate shield for the bulbs, have not been effective so far. Cropsey said that the problem is that the bank must comply with state law regarding proper ATM lighting. Mayor Gaughan said he hoped to have an update regarding Cropsey’s progress at the January meeting;

— Heard from Richard Straut, Engineer at Barton & Loguidice, that he had prepared a proposed work plan to address the problems associated with the village’s illegal stormwater discharges and its aging sewer plant;

— Held a public hearing on a new law that codifies local laws, ordinances, and certain resolutions of the village into a municipal code. Gaughan called the resolution a “culmination of five years’ worth of work of the board to develop a comprehensive plan.” Gaughan added that the final step, which had now been completed, was paying a consulting agency to look at the code in its entirety and make sure it was consistent with state codes.

The board also unanimously adopted a negative declaration, asserting that the law complied with the State Environmental Quality Review Act.  SEQRA requires that public agencies consider the environmental impact of actions considering funding or approving. By asserting a negative declaration, the board declared that the new village codes would not have negative environmental impacts.

Harvey Vlahos of 221 Main St., formerly a board member who has run unsuccessfully for mayor, asked whether the code would be available to download electronically, to which Gaughan answered yes, although it was not available yet;

— Approved an annual fee of $14,400 annually, billed monthly at $1,200, for retaining Michael Moore’s legal services for the village. Moore’s salary is the same as last year and does not reflect a raise; and

— Approved a request by Patty Blackwood, village clerk, to dispose of various village records deemed no longer necessary to keep under state law.

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