Guilderland has new water super, new zoning attorney, and new tree committee

Guilderland has new water super, new zoning attorney, and new tree committee

GUILDERLAND — On May 16, without fanfare, the city council unanimously named a new water superintendent, a new assistant city attorney, five members of the first tree protection committee, a senior citizen bus driver and a maintenance worker.
William Bremigen was appointed Superintendent of the Water and Sewer Department, replacing Timothy McIntyre who recently retired.

“For the past two years, Bill has accompanied the former superintendent…” Barber said. “It’s a good practice that the water board has shown us, which is basically having the shadow of the closest person.”

He also said of Bremigen: “I think he would be a wonderful head of this department. He enjoys the full support of his employees. And he’s very, very open to discussion and improvement in the water and sanitation department.”

The only appointment that caused controversy was that of new attorney Janet Thayer, and the controversy centered not on her person or her professionalism, but rather on the process by which she was selected.

Robyn Gray, chair of the Guilderland Coalition for Responsible Growth, opened the meeting by saying that she had not seen the solicitor’s position advertised anywhere.

“No one has seen the qualifications… and what the job responsibilities are…. This isn’t the first time this has happened,” Gray said. “They have an employee handbook that clearly spells out how to post job openings and it doesn’t look like it’s being followed consistently.”

Gray also said she “knew of several attorneys who would be keen to work with the city.”

“Which?” replied supervisor Peter Barber.

“I won’t tell you their names,” Gray said.

Later, as the board prepared to vote on Thayer’s appointment, Barber said the current assistant city attorney would be taking a vacation soon and “we wanted to find out who the best person would be to support the zoning department on principle” and run the zoning board.

Barber stressed, “This is not a blow to the zoning board at all,” and said the new chairwoman, Elizabeth Lott, herself a lawyer, was “quite adept.”

“Janet was the city attorney on the zoning committee for about 10 years…. I know she was very well received,” Barber said, adding that she “resigned” because she became a lawyer at Albany University, which presented a conflict. “So she’s resigned from that position now,” Barber said.

Thayer was appointed to the Zoning Board in 2003. In March 2004, when Barber stepped down as chairman of the zoning board, the city appointed then-zoning board attorney Bryan Clenahan as chairman. Thayer was then chosen to succeed Clenahan as counsel for the zoning board.

“It was wonderful working with Janet when I was serving on the zoning committee for periods when I had to chair,” said Councilman Jacob Crawford, who described those times as “nerve-wracking”.

Crawford said of Thayer, “She was able to walk you through the process, whether it was a shed or it was a big, big project that was in front of you.”

Councilwoman Christine Napierski, herself a lawyer, said that while she appreciates Crawford and Barber’s recommendations, while Thayer has “an impressive resume that doesn’t include her decade with the zoning authority, I really appreciate the opportunity would have been happy.” I’m interviewing for this position because I don’t know it.”

“Once we realized we needed someone, I think we had to act pretty quickly,” Barber replied. “And I think it’s a unique circumstance.”

As the position is part-time, he also said, “Technically it’s my job, but I’ll let you guys… I always share the opportunity.”

“It would have just been more convenient for me to make that decision after I had an opportunity to interview,” Napierski insisted. “I see no harm in it and so we can all be assured that we are making the best decision for the city.”

Napierski then voted with the others to have Thayer appointed.

Tree Committee

In December, the city government unanimously passed legislation to protect native trees and educate the public about them. The seed that became the law was planted by a group of McKownville residents.

Residents of the historic district on the edge of Guilderland, next to the town of Albany, walked the tree-lined streets and found that over 100 specimens were missing – with no plans for replacements or care.

The group then worked with the city’s planner, supervisor, parks manager and others to draft a bill that would set up a committee to develop a forestry plan for Guilderland.

Land to be developed will also be part of the plan, as will the city’s parks and land along the streets. Private owners can continue to do whatever they want with their gardens, but the hope is that they will learn more about and be interested in planting native trees and plants.

On May 16, the city government appointed the Tree Protection Committee, made up largely of people who helped draft the law.

Barber recalled, “The board was very grateful for the role that the committee members had played in the drafting of the local law.”

He noted that they traveled to Bethlehem and Niskayuna, which have similar committees, and spoke with staff at the Landis Arboretum in Schoharie County.

One person was appointed to the committee, Tim Welch, who was not part of the original group. Barber said he was “someone we interviewed during the ZBA process, and he actually used to be a member of a tree committee in Niskayuna — we all agreed he would fit well on that committee.”

The committee members and their terms of office are:

— Laura Barry, term expires 31 December 2026;

— Mary Dornbush, term expires 31 December 2026;

— William Kidd, term expires 31 December 2025;

— Ellen Manning, term ends December 31, 2025; And

— Timothy Welch, term expires December 31, 2026.

Barber said the term, whether two or three years, was decided by a coin toss. They are staggered so that not all terms expire at once, Crawford said, and going forward each term will be three years.

Rather than let the city council appoint a chairperson, Barber said: “I thought we should let them meet first and then maybe they pick their own chairperson and we come back and reinforce it.”

other business

Incidentally, at its May 16 meeting, Guilderland City Council said:

— Appointed Michael Connolly as bus driver at the city’s senior center. He was interviewed by Senior Services Coordinator Mary Ann Kelley and Human Resources Assistant Kaitlyn Craig.

“It was very difficult to find a bus driver,” Barber said, “so we are very grateful to gain the second bus driver as we lost our previous bus driver some time ago.”

Starting salary is $16.48 per hour;

– Appointed Brandon Shaver following an interview as maintenance worker for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“Brandon will be one of those jack-of-all-trades, helping out on a variety of city projects, from the GPAC to the new EMS building,” said Barber of the Guilderland Performing Arts Center and Emergency Medical Services building.

His starting salary is $55,000 per year;

– Learned from Barberf that the committee tasked with updating the city’s master plan is holding a second public workshop and open house – Thursday, June 1, from 6-8pm at the Westmere Firehouse.

While several board members likened the format to speed-dating, Barber called it a “shotgun” approach: Residents cycle between tables for 20-minute sessions, discussing various topics like housing or transport with a moderator at each table;

– Approved a tender for the repair and replacement of the clubhouse roof at the Western Turnpike Golf Course.

“The roof is 35 years old and I think they’re tired of fixing it,” Barber said.

“The roof shingles are cracking and falling off, causing internal leaks and damage,” wrote Parks and Recreation director Collin J. Gallup. The roof will be replaced in late summer or early fall, he said, with funding coming primarily from golf course revenue;

Awarded an order for granulated activated carbon to Carbon Activated Corp. as the lowest qualified bidder as required by Bremigen at a price of $1.16 per pound;

– Approved Diamond Lane as a private road name for a two-parcel subdivision from Schoolhouse Road to Vaughn Road; the other options were Twin Hills or Penny Lane;

– Waiver of building permit fee for a temporary sign for the First United Methodist Church of Voorheesville at the intersection of Route 146 and Depot Road advertising a farmers market because it is a religious facility;

— Authorized the signing of a confiscation order for the water board. The original fee was in error, Barber said, because the home “was backed by a special program during the COVID pandemic where people were able to get a payment schedule… and our system wasn’t keeping up”; And

– Went to the board meeting to discuss “the employment status of a city employee,” as stated in the meeting agenda. James Melita, the city’s attorney, wrote in a memo that the board should discuss “an agreement related to a personnel matter.”

The board reconvened in open session to vote unanimously to approve the agreement “which was discussed at the board meeting, including amendments to the amendments that James emailed to the board,” Barber said . He said Melita will include clauses “on confidentiality and … disparagement of the city.”