Mayor’s Message – July

  July 27, 2017

Mayor’s Message

With summer upon us, time is flying by. Congratulations to the 2017 graduating class from all grade levels and to the teachers and administrators on a successful school year. With school closed please be aware of the kids playing outdoors, especially near the parks, and the increase of motorcycles on the road.

The Police Chief reminds Village residents to keep bicycles secured and your cars and homes locked. This time of year, is when door to door solicitors increases and Chief O’Brien reminds everyone to never allow strangers access to your home or personal information. Be sure to contact the police if suspicious of anyone in your neighborhood.

Despite the rain, we have been fortunate with summer weather so far. If the temperatures become oppressive and health issues arise, please do not hesitate to contact the Menands Police @ 463-1681 or 911. The health and safety of our residents is a top priority of our first responders.

I would like to extend a special thank you to Village Gardener, Dianne MacFarland and the DPW for the beautiful flowers around the Village. I continuously receive compliments on how awesome the flowers look and what a great addition they are to Menands. It takes a lot of hours to maintain the hanging baskets, flower beds and gardens, as well as dedication from our Gardener, who has the magic touch.

If you have not been by the Ganser Smith Park recently, please take a ride by. More than 10 years ago, the Village had a concept plan done on ways to improve our parks. With funding through a settlement recently received by the Village, we are working towards implementing that plan. Installed at Ganser Smith Park is a beautiful gazebo that accentuates the beauty of the park. The new gazebo was met with overwhelming praise as many saw it for the first time when attending the first concert of the 2017 Summer Concerts in the Park. Once the landscaping is completed it will be even more beautiful. A special thank you to Mike Hagmann and the DPW, Don Handerhan, Lyle Darmetko, Eric Johnson and Jerry Ruppert for their help and guidance in seeing the plans for the gazebo become a reality.

We also installed ceiling fans in the pavilion, upgraded the electric in the park and installed a hood over the grill. The DPW painted the bathrooms and storage room and they look great. There is more work planned and it is coming along nicely. Whether enjoying a picnic lunch at the park, hosting a gathering at the pavilion, utilizing the softball field or basketball court, meeting other parents with kids to play on the playground, or coming out on a Tuesday night to listen to great music and catch up with friends, the Ganser Smith Park has something for everyone. We are very grateful for the hard work of our DPW in maintaining our parks and keeping them clean and safe for all to enjoy.

Trustee Aileen Nicoll and I are presently working with our Village engineer on improvements to the Nature Trail. This wooded park contains over a mile of hiking trails and is utilized by many year-round. We are hoping plans will be in place to get things started in the fall.

The Village Offices moved to the former Key Bank building at 280 Broadway in May. With a purchase price of $150,000 and the upgrades and renovations completed to transform the building to accommodate the Village employees, we were very fortunate to obtain this building for much needed office space and allow for expansion of the Police Dept. at 250 Broadway. We are seeking grant opportunities to focus on improvements to the exterior of the property.

Congratulations to Marty Thompson on his retirement from the Village after 29 years with the DPW. Best wishes to Marty in his retirement and many thanks for his years of service to Menands.

The 2017 paving project is about to begin with requests for BIDS going out soon. Once awarded, paving should start in about a month or so. Notifications will go out with details to those in the project areas. Over the past several years, we have been paving streets around the Village to make our streets safer for all who travel them. Once all of the streets have been paved, we will implement a yearly maintenance paving plan.

The NYSDOT road diet on Van Renns. Blvd is nearing completion. As with any project, some feel it is a great improvement while others preferred it the way it was. Pedestrians have commented they feel much more comfortable walking the Blvd. now and residents in the area feel safer turning down side streets or into driveways from the designated turning lane. We are hopeful with the lane reductions and reduced speed limit of 45 mph, that VRB will be safer for all. DOT is conducting a traffic study over the next couple of months to determine if the speed limit should remain at 45 mph. Chief O’Brien and I have conveyed to DOT that we believe the reduced speed of 45 mph is in the best interest of the Village and those who travel VRB. We will continue to express our concerns until a determination is made and beyond if necessary. We have experienced a positive working relationship with DOT during this project and others and are grateful for that. We are confident that DOT will continue to work closely with the Village during the decision-making process. Thank you to Menands and Colonie police for enforcing the reduced speed both during construction and presently. We are also working with National Grid to increase the street lighting along VRB and surrounding areas.

In April, the 2017/18 officers of the MFD, MFC and Aux were sworn in. Congratulation to all, with thanks for your continued commitment to the safety of the residents of Menands. New members are always welcome. Also in April, the MFC hosted a Memorial Service for their deceased members. It was a moving tribute to those who have protected the Village since the MFC was founded in 1923. Many family members were in attendance and acknowledged as the names of the deceased were read. It was an honor to be amongst the families as the names were read, including both my father and grandfather. This was a very special event.

The Village Youth Easter Party was held in April. With an Easter egg hunt at the park, refreshments and a special visit from the Easter Bunny, kids of all ages had a great time. Thank you to Director Brianna Coughlin and her counselors for providing a safe and fun family activity. The Youth Summer Program has begun. This is a great time for the kids in Menands. More information can be found on the Village website

During the construction phase, Trustees Diane Foley and Steve Boulet and I had an opportunity to tour the new facility of the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society. The building is incredible and very well thought out. The Village is so pleased that the MHHS decided to expand their present location in Menands instead of moving elsewhere. This is such a great asset to our Village. The MHHS has moved into their new facility and demolition of the old buildings are underway.

The Seniors continue to enjoy wonderful trips and weekly gatherings. In 2016, my husband and I were pleased to join the Menands Seniors and look forward to attending the trips once we retire. In the meantime, participating in events,
such as the annual picnic and holiday party are always a nice time. New members ages 55 and older are always welcome. Contact President Diane Leonard @465-3771 for more information.

In May, Chief O’Brien, Sgt. Ryan St. Gelais and I attended the Annual STOP DWI New York and MADD awards banquet, which recognizes community members who keep NYS roads safe from impaired drivers. Individuals from Law Enforcement across New York State were honored, including Menands Police Officer Paul J. Stone for his DWI enforcement efforts. Congratulations, with thanks, to Officer Stone and all those who work tirelessly to keep us safe.

Menands School held their annual Spring Concert and Evening of the Arts in May. Congratulations to Art Teacher, Pat Testo and Music Teacher Lauren Bergeron on showcasing the talents of the students. The hard work and dedication of the faculty and staff at Menands School is commendable.

The Village of Menands Spring Business Breakfast was held in May. This event is held twice a year to invite members of the business community to come together to enjoy breakfast catered by Poppy’s Place, network with fellow business representatives and receive an update on things happening in Menands. Sean Maguire, Director of Economic Development with the Capital District Regional Planning Commission was our guest speaker. We are grateful for those that take time out of their busy schedules to attend this event.

Congratulations to Pay-It-Forward-Together for their continued support of local communities. Their annual Prom Closet was a great success in providing prom attire to students who may not have had the financial means to otherwise attend their proms. Through donations and volunteers, PIFT made fleece blankets which were donated to the Ronald McDonald House. They continue to look for ways to help those in need and are a wonderful volunteer organization.

Congratulation to Todd Hayes and Lisa Buoniconto, founders of Empower Ethiopia, who received the Global Humanitarian Award and Congressional Recognition for their humanitarian efforts. I look forward to participating as a guest bartender at Il Faro Restaurant on August 13th from 4 – 7 as Empower Ethiopia hosts Menands Summer Mingle. Proceeds will support Let Us Change, a home for street children in Hawassa Ethiopia.

In memory of Steve O’Connell, a scholarship fund was established in support of local students. A fundraiser was held in June to support this fund and was a great success.

The Derek Murphy Fund organizers are hosting Dollars for Derek this year. This fundraiser is a super raffle and all profits go directly to Derek, who is the son of Menands Police Office John Murphy and has Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy, to help offset medical expenses that are not covered. Contact Lynda at email hidden; JavaScript is required for further details.

Congratulations to Aileen Nicoll and Seth Harris on their re-election as Trustees in the recent Village Election and to Christopher Flint on his election as Village Justice. Best wishes to all during their four-year terms.

Construction is underway at 354 Broadway rebuilding the residence that was destroyed by fire. The new building looks great and is a nice lift for Broadway. Across the street at 311 Broadway, restoration has begun on this property. This is the fourth restoration project in Menands for new owners Nick DiBiase and Larry Henderson and we are grateful for their commitment to improving run down homes in the Village. I look forward to the completion of both properties.

We continue to receive inquiries from individuals and businesses looking to move to Menands or to expand existing businesses in the Village. Economic Development is a top priority and we are constantly meeting with developers, realtors, owners and property managers to welcome new development or discuss intentions of current properties. I recently met with the property manager of Mid-City, that was purchased by the owners of Riverview Center and also with the realtor for the property next to Price Chopper Plaza. Both understand that the Village is seeking further development along Broadway, including the return of a grocery store, and both are actively searching to develop their parcels. Mid-City has plans to start upgrading the façade of the plaza soon that will mimic the façade of Riverview Center. This will be a nice improvement and hopefully encourage further economic growth. This is an ongoing process that can be frustrating knowing the potential that many of these properties hold, but we will continue to contact those involved and keep pushing for continued development.

Enjoy the rest of the summer.

Until next time,
Mayor Meg