Sausville Looks Back, With Pride and Frustration

MALTA – He retired at the end of last year, aged 76, after 10 years as town supervisor.

Before that, he spent six years on the Town Board, and about a decade as chairman of the Planning Board, along with other town positions. You might think that he if anyone has shaped the look of Malta, but that’s not how Paul Sausville sees it.

Paul Sausville May 2016 001

Sausville is proud of many things the town achieved under his leadership as supervisor, including a new library and gymnasium, a new garage for the Highway Department, the Round Lake Bypass, miles of new trails and other public benefits paid for by developers.

He’s happy to take credit for Malta’s ever growing number of roundabouts, which he calls “the 21st century answer” to traffic congestion. While two built recently on a reconstructed Round Lake Road were particularly controversial, Sausville says “People are beginning to like” that project, after all. In fact, he cites that area around Northway Exit 11 as a model for how development should proceed in Malta.

But then there’s the area east of Exit 12, in the center of Malta, where town officials, often over his objections, sought to create a more urban downtown environment. Sausville is not happy about how that’s working out.

He cites, for example, recent clear-cutting of trees west of Dunning Street Rural Cemetery, in preparation for a major new development near the Northway. The tree-cutting was permitted under Malta’s relatively new “form-based code,” passed by the Town Board over Sausville’s objections. Under the previous zoning, Sausville says, the developers would have had to seek a planned development district, giving the town power to impose conditions, such as limitations on tree cutting.

Paul Sausville, left, works with fellow Rotary volunteers on April 30, 2016, on a project to install three benches on the Zim Smith Trail/Ballston Journal

Paul Sausville, left, works with fellow Rotary volunteers on April 30, 2016, on a project to install three benches on the Zim Smith Trail/Ballston Journal

Downtown advocates say it makes sense to allow density there, in the middle of town, so as to ease development pressure and help preserve open space in the rest of Malta. But Sausville and many Malta residents, including newly elected Town Board members, have been critical of the kind of development, including Ellsworth Commons, that has been permitted there.

All elected officials in Malta are Republican, and have been for many years. But that has not stopped often bitter political infighting. While Sausville has not participated in that open negativity, it did happen under his watch.

“This Trumpism stuff,” he says, meaning the politics of insult, didn’t start with the current presidential campaign, and has had its counterpart in local politics. Sausville is not a supporter of candidate Donald Trump, and when interviewed on Tuesday morning was hoping John Kasich could emerge as a compromise Republican nominee. But he conceded that’s unlikely, and shares the general expectation that it’ll be Trump vs. Hillary Clinton in the general election. He declines to say how he will vote.

Sausville spent three-and-a-half decades as an engineer for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, but is not going back to that kind of work. He has his wife Nancy, three children and nine grandchildren to keep him busy, along with a Christmas tree farm on their Raymond Road property, a blacksmithing hobby, and volunteer work including Malta Sunrise Rotary.

Then there’s the book he’s writing and preparing to self-publish: A guide to the beaches of the small Caribbean island Marie-Galante. It will be very useful for English-speakers who go to that French-speaking island, he said, where Nancy and he have vacationed three times and have great affection for. Maybe it will help cut the high unemployment rate there.

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Reporter Bob Conner has worked 21 years in various positions at the Gazette of Schenectady, and before that four years as a reporter at the Glens Falls Post-Star. He won two first-place writing awards from the New York Associated Press Association for newspapers with circulation between 50,000 and 250,000. Bob has a Phi Beta Kappa bachelor’s degree in journalism from New York University, and an associate’s degree in chemical dependency counseling from HVCC. He is a published author and is currently writing a historical novel about the last four months in the life of Ulysses S.Grant

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