Thursday, 15 June 2017 21:03

Village Board Moves to Improve on All Fronts

A view of healthy trees on Milton Avenue in Ballston Spa. A view of healthy trees on Milton Avenue in Ballston Spa. Photo by Larry Goodwin.

BALLSTON SPA — A new tractor for village work crews and Tasers for police officers. Cutting down visibly dangerous trees. An upgraded website. The revitalization of an old industrial property that is literally a stone’s throw from Village Hall.

Those were among a variety of issues addressed by the Ballston Spa Village Board on Monday night.

In the “new business” portion of the June 12 meeting, the board voted to approve the purchase of a new tractor—valued at nearly $70,000—for the Department of Public Works. A replacement is needed for a machine that was originally put into service in 1988. It had racked up more than 23,000 hours of use.

“It’s tired,” explained Trustee Robert Cavanaugh, noting how the older tractor still has a trade-in value of about $12,000. That means the village has to pay Nortrax of Clifton Park about $58,000 for the new machine, he said.

Cavanaugh and the other board members approved the expenditure of $3,300 for the removal of eight trees scattered around the village that are potentially hazardous. He said they were identified as “the most critical,” though at least another half-dozen trees may have to be cut down at a later date.

Trustee Noah Shaw praised village staff and the other board members, including longtime Mayor John Romano, for cooperating in an effort to upgrade the municipality’s website (www.villageofballstonspa.org).

Deputy Clerk Cari Scribner has spearheaded that effort, adding new pictures and changing key parts of the website for easier public access.

Soon, Shaw said, residents will be able to visit the website and view official agendas prior to village board meetings, which occur at 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of every month. From there, he added, residents can pick and choose which meetings to attend.

“We all have busy lives. Time management is important to people,” offered Trustee Shawn Raymond. “A lot of people will be very pleased.”

Trustee Stuart Hodsoll explained the need for three more Tasers in the village Police Department, before the board approved that measure and another to increase the annual salary of Police Chief David Bush from $71,000 to $75,000.

According to Mayor Romano, there was no real budgetary impact because a previous administrative change enabled the department to make do with one less staff position.

Chief Bush is more hands-on than his predecessors in the department, Romano said.

In a discussion about the abandoned Angelica property on Bath Street, which is currently involved in a bankruptcy proceeding, Romano asked the board to endorse his two-phase plan for the site.

The whole effort will involve Village Attorney James Fauci and Romano communicating with Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board members, and local residents, to develop a plan for the site.

At present, according to Romano, a consensus seems to have emerged that the property could serve as “an extension of the business district” on Front Street.

A public hearing will be scheduled and those unable to attend can submit written comments, the mayor said. The first phase should be completed by September.

The second phase of Romano’s plan would look at specific zoning changes that need to be made for the Angelica property, as well as “certain areas” of the village that can help “expand the tax base.”

Romano also announced the summer board meetings that will be held in the yards of village of residents: the June 26 meeting will be at 199 Milton Avenue; the July 10 meeting will be at 31 East High Street; and the August 14 meeting will start at 7 p.m. at 20 Chester Street.

For many years, Romano has organized such outdoor board meetings because he thinks it harkens back to the creation of a constitutional republic. 

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