On behalf of the Village Board, I would like to wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year. As I look back on 2011 and ahead to 2012, there have been a number of developments in Menands that I would like to share with you.
2011 saw changes in administration and personnel. Two new board members were sworn in and three long standing Village employees, with 60 years of combined service, retired. This brought about the promotion of two part-time people to full-time and the return of a former Village employee. Additionally, on the advice of the Office of Court Administration, an additional court clerk was hired, along with the appointment of a new Acting Village Justice. A part-time patrolman was also promoted to full-time bringing the workforce in the police dept. to fourteen, including the Chief, 3 part-time and 10 full-time officers.
In August, 2011, Hurricane Irene made its way up the East coast, resulting in flooding throughout the Village and the evacuation of Village One Apartments and sections along Broadway. With a combined effort by the Menands Police and Fire Depts. and the assistance from Albany County and the Town of Colonie, the evacuation of both people and animals went smoothly. The dedication and commitment of all of our departments to protect the residents and businesses during this time was commendable.
Capital Improvement projects began with sewer and water infrastructure upgrades on S. Lyons and the surrounding areas. This project will be completed in the spring. Additionally, an engineering firm was hired to begin planning for the next infrastructure project to be done in the Sky Hollow/Sage Hill area. The upgrades will provide safe and reliable sewer and water service in our community. The Village has also upgraded our SCADA system, a new computer monitoring system in the Water Department.
Necessary paving projects began in 2011, and will continue in the spring. With the infrastructure projects moving forward, this will result in improved roads in those areas, as well as, additional paving work being done in other areas.
The Broadway Corridor Rezoning committee continues to work towards modernizing our existing zoning classification to help Menands become more attractive in economic development. The committee is expected to present their proposed changes to the Board in the spring. The Village will also be applying for a Brownfield Opportunity Area grant from the Dept. of State in March. This grant will provide the Village an opportunity to access the older and vacant buildings and sites throughout the Village, in an effort to revitalize those areas. The Village will also begin accepting applications soon for a part-time Economic Development person to help keep Menands on the map for business opportunities.
The Village has also initiated a citizen alert notification program that will allow the Village to maintain contact instantaneously with residents and businesses through the use of modern technology in the event of emergencies, such as water breaks, fires, power failures, etc. This system can also reduce costs to the Village by offering electronic notices instead of mailings. We will be working together with Menands School and Village departments to maximize the benefits of this system. Residents and businesses will be notified soon with further details to begin registration into this system to receive notices via home phone, cell phone, text messaging or email. The registration process is user friendly and the Village staff will be available to help with the process.
In an effort to increase the Village’s exposure to the business community, we joined the Colonie Chamber of Commerce and continue to stay active in the Albany – Colonie Chamber. We have seen movement in our own business community. In these difficult economic times, where businesses have closed, we have welcomed six new businesses into Menands in the past nine months. The latest included a Grand opening of Lapiner Bros. Inc., which took place with a ribbon cutting on Friday, January 13th. We also look forward to the re-opening of the diner which is expected to open soon. We continue to meet with business owners, developers and realtors to explore every opportunity to bring businesses into Menands.
As we move towards the end of our fiscal year and face the 2% Tax Cap that was enacted by the Governor, we will be met with challenges when implementing next year’s budget. With continued infrastructure and paving projects, every dollar matters. We will stay focused and meet that challenge while continuing to enact sound fiscal management.
2012 brings with it new hope and opportunities. I look forward to continued efforts to bring Menands to its fullest potential. We live in a great community, with many benefits and I am proud to serve as your Mayor.