COLONIE — The town Comprehensive Plan Committee held its fourth, and penultimate, community outreach public hearing last week at Lisha Kill Middle school, and residents at that meeting broached a topic that had gone unheard at the previous meetings: isolation from the rest of the town.
Chuck Voss, the representative of Barton and Loguidice, the engineering firm that is overseeing the planning process, explained at the meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 7, that a Comprehensive Plan is meant to help guide a community forward.
“It’s one thing to understand where we are, and what we’re doing in a community, but it’s another to say, where do we want to be in five years? Where do we want to be in 10 years?” Voss said. He also noted that allowing a community to grow organically isn’t always the best option due to the fact that the unchallenged growth could cause things to spiral out of control, and that guided growth would be more beneficial.
“It’s your plan, it’s your process, we’re here to facilitate the process and help develop a plan,” Voss said.
While commonly heard topics such as rampant development and commercialization, loss of open space, and difficult traffic were addressed at the Lisha Kill meeting, residents brought up an issue that seemed to be singularly unique to their location, which was the overall goal of having the location centered meetings in the first place. Many audience participants at the Lisha Kill meeting jumped on to the fact that, due to their location around Central Avenue, it’s very difficult to become engaged in what many see as pivotal town centers, such as the William K. Sanford Library or The Crossings park.
“The Crossings is at least a 20 minute drive away,” one resident lamented, while noting that there were very few substitutes for parks in his neighborhood, besides what he characterized as “run down pocket parks.”
Many residents who live in more rural areas of the area noted that while their streets were quiet and peaceful 30 years ago, they now have cars driving down them all hours of the day. One man said, years ago, he was able to close his eyes and cross the street outside of his house with minimal odds of being hit by a car. Now, he said, he’s lucky if he can manage to cross the street with while his eyes are open due to the influx of cars that race down it.
But, audience members at Lisha Kill did admit that, though it’s far away and they would like to see more branches, they see the town library as a positive attribute and they praised the town’s emergency services. Going forward, they listed their priority issues that they would like to see addressed as preserving the town’s suburban feel, preserving green space, and fostering connectivity and walkability throughout Colonie.
The final public hearing for the Comprehensive Plan Review will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the main meeting room at The Crossings.