BALLSTON – Town Supervisor Tim Szczepaniak delivered the second annual State of the Town Address Thursday, highlighting the progress and accomplishments made by the town last year and outlining plans for 2017.
“First of all, 2016 was a phenomenal year for the Town of Ballston. There was a lot accomplished,” Szczepaniak said. “It doesn’t happen by one or two individuals, it’s all about teamwork. It’s all about community volunteers. It won’t work if you don’t have both of those items there.”
Szczepaniak began by pointing out the improvements made to the town’s financial record keeping and budget process. The Town Board hired a town budget officer last year to help prepare the 2017 town budget and to complete financial records for the past five years.
The budget was prepared by examining data from the past five years to help identify areas that required budgetary attention. While developing the budget the board also began to plan for future expenses, including the development of a 10-year replacement schedule for highway vehicles and equipment.
Turning towards economic development, Szczepaniak said, “We need to increase our commercial development on the Route 50 corridor.” He pointed out that many developers were interested in the Route 50 corridor, especially given the town’s upcoming sewer project.
Szczepaniak also noted that the Town Board is obligated to protect the interests of residents, many of whom moved to Ballston to escape over developed areas. “You know what the residents want? They want quaint and we’re going to strive for quaint in our town,” he said.
The Town Board has been discussing revisions to town zoning in keeping with the town’s comprehensive plan, working with consultant Nan Stolzenberg to identify areas for amendment.
The board also plans to examine the intersection of Lakehill Road and Route 50. “We have to do something with that intersection. It’s an issue. I understand it is classified as a failed intersection. We need to take a look at that. It is a state road and then you have Lakehill is a county road. So, we have those challenges to take a look at,” Szczepaniak said.
The intersection came up in discussion as part of the Ballston Planning Board’s review of plans for a new CVS Pharmacy that was granted final approval on Wednesday. The CVS will be constructed at that intersection on the site of the former Old Homestead Restaurant.
Board members and residents repeatedly raised concerns over traffic at the intersection during the review process. CVS submitted a traffic study as part of the plan, which found that the new CVS would result in approximately 79 additional vehicles on the road during peak hours for the store and the impact to traffic would cause an increased delay of 14.5 seconds.
The estimated traffic impacts are acceptable under state guidelines. Ultimately the county and New York State Department of Transportation agreed with the findings of the traffic study.
Another area of focus for the board in the coming year is parks and trails. The grand opening of Anchor Diamond Park was held in late October. The 246-acre park located at the corner of Route 50 and Middleline Road features 4.5 miles of wooded hiking trails.
The town board would like to develop additional parks in the town and plans to look for possible sites for future parks. Anchor Diamond Park is a passive park protected by a conservation easement. According to Szczepaniak there is a need for both active and passive parks in town.
“There is a big need in our community for athletic fields. Any time you go near schools you see that schools are in full force with athletes from all around and I’ve got to tell you that a lot of folks go outside our town to practices. They go to Indian Meadows, to Glenville,” he said. “We want to provide more active recreational parks here for those folks to keep them in our town.”
The Town Board will also work on plans for emergency management. The Emergency Management Operations Committee updated plans for the town last year and some board members have undergone National Incident Management System certification.
The board plans to undergo additional training and drills. Szczepaniak would also like to see the board learn more about emergency management plans at the county level.
To conclude his address, Szczepaniak reiterated the importance of teamwork within the town from the various boards, departments, committees and volunteers.
“A lot was accomplished in 2016 and we have a lot of work to do in 2017,” he said. “But with all the efforts and diversity that this board and the other boards bring and all the volunteers and members of the community, I feel very good that we’re going to get there.”