LOUDONVILLE — Last month, after polling 343 residents, the research institute at Siena College released a study assessing the quality of life in the Town of Colonie.
Overwhelmingly, residents seem to be extremely satisfied with the work done by local police and firefighters and a large majority approve of the quality of the town’s school districts and library system. Seven out of 10 residents feel they pay “about the right amount” in taxes, about 80 percent said they feel safe, and nearly 100 percent consider Colonie a great place to raise a family.
However, town residents are considerably more divided on the pace of development in the town—70 percent said that they believed development has improved the quality of life, while half said that the pace of commercial development is an issue and about 80 percent feel that traffic congestion is a significant problem. Also, nearly half of those polled said that infrastructure—including water and sewage infrastructure—are a major problem in the town.
“All in all, the residents of Colonie seem quite happy with life here in the town, especially regarding goods and services, the job done by public safety officers, the amount they pay in taxes, the quality of the schools and the library, and the job done by local elected officials,” wrote Siena student Emma Henderschedt, a member of the research team. “At the same time, if Colonie were to work on anything moving forward, residents say it should be improving the quality of the infrastructure including water and sewage lines, and alleviating traffic congestion.”
“Infrastructure is on ongoing problem in municipalities across the state,” Department of Public Works Commissioner Jack Cunningham told Spotlight. “Across the country, actually. And that’s just a function of money. We do capital projects every year to try to improve and maintain our infrastructure—roads, water, sewer and the like.”
“We have an extensive underground infrastructure of both water and sewer and so it’s nearly impossible to address every issue prior to it becoming a problem, so we have to have funds available to address those issues, but we are very forward-looking in trying to address infrastructure problems before they become emergencies.” To that end, Cunningham added, he is meeting this week with the Latham Water Department to begin identifying improvement projects for 2017 and 2018. “This is the beginning stages, where we try to prioritize, then we have to go to the budget committee to look for funding.”
Other interesting survey results:
While 90 percent of females and almost 80 percent of males polled said that they visit Colonie Center “very often” or “somewhat often,” only 22 percent of males and 15 percent of females visit the Ciccotti Recreation Center regularly; 68 percent of all residents, however, consider the Ciccotti Center to be an asset to the town.
53 percent of residents surveyed said that they used the William K. Sanford Town of Colonie Library very or somewhat often and, when residents were asked whether or not they would support or oppose a plan to close and sell the current library building and split it into three smaller regional libraries that function under the current library budget, 65 percent opposed the idea.
93 percent of residents surveyed said that the quality of town parks and recreation facilities are either excellent or good. A full 95 percent view The Crossings as an asset, and 72 percent of those said they have gone either very often or somewhat often in the past 12 months.
56 percent rated the job performance of elected officials as either good or excellent. Similarly, 54 percent of residents rated the “responsiveness of local government” as either excellent or good. However, when people were asked how often they attended any public meetings in the Town of Colonie in which there was a discussion of neighborhood or school affairs in the past 12 months, only 17 percent said they attended very or somewhat often.
“While elected officials in the Town of Colonie are viewed favorably by more than half of residents – which is strong relative to other surrounding areas,” wrote James Bascom, another student member of the research team, “fewer than 2 out of every 10 residents say they attend public meetings.”