Daily Gazette: Tuesday, 21-Sept-2004|
By VICTORIA R. SPAGNOLI
Plan for fire house, village office draws polite, but lively discussion
SCOTIA ó The location and cost of Scotiaís fire house and village office project were topics for residents Monday during the first in a series of public meetings on how and if the project should proceed.
About 10 key issues were identified during a polite meeting that attracted about 75 people to the First Reformed Church in Scotia. The meeting was run by Margaret Irwin of River Street Planning and Development in Troy. Information on Mondayís meeting will be posted on two Web sites: http://www.visitscotia.com and www.schenectadychamber.org
Irwin said she will summarize all the comments for discussion at the next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. on October 4 at the church.
In April, a majority of voters defeated a $7.3 million referendum which would have paid for the construction of a new fire station and the rehabilitation of Village Hall.
The major issues Monday night included location; cost; the projectís process; respect for local opinions; negotiations for Fire Protection District 4; consolidation; the historic nature of Village Hall and the village of Scotia; cost of building new versus rehabilitating Village Hall; and the impact on Scotiaís business corridor should the municipal center change.
The meeting was not a giveand-take discussion. Mayor Michael McLaughlin and trustees William Seyse, Joseph Rizzo and Austin Nelson were present but only listened as residents spoke.
"The focus isnít whether you love me or hate me," said McLaughlin as he opened the meeting. It was about what is best for the village, he explained.
The meeting was held to "clear the air," said Irwin. "If there isnít any opportunity for people to vent . . . the community canít move forward. We want to hear and listen and get smarter about peopleís concerns."
Resident Bea Balch said the village couldnít have afforded the dual project. "It was too big for us. We donít have a lot of people in the village of Scotia. We canít afford it," she said.
Another resident asked whether residents were happy with the current facility or does Scotia need something new. "Do we really want a new facility? I think we really need to think about that," he said.
Chip Cayer, president of the Scotia Police Benevolent Association, said he thought the biggest misconception was that the entire project consisted only of a fire house and that people didnít understand it also included a rehab of Village Hall ó including the Police Department.
Steve Marsh agreed adding that the village hall and police seemed to get left out of most of the public discussion. All the facilities need to be modernized, he said, adding he was against total abandonment of the Mohawk Avenue building.
"You just canít abandon that building downtown. You just canít," he said.
One suggestion was to keep the fire station at its current location in Village Hall and expand it. But this got Gary Kelly, owner of Village Paint and Wallpaper, upset because his business is directly next to Village Hall and expansion would mean taking his business away.
"If we keep eliminating businesses, weíll have no place to shop but big-box stores," he said.
Reach Gazette reporter Victoria R. Spagnoli at 395-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org