COLONIE – Finances, past and present, infrastructure improvements and needs and development and re-development were the dominant themes of Supervisor Paula Mahan’s State of the Town address on Thursday, Jan. 18.
“But with a collaborative effort and a tremendous amount of hard work, we got the town out of a very deep financial hole,” she told a small crowd at Town Hall. “Today, we are on solid ground and experiencing unprecedented success. New Families, businesses and jobs come to Colonie every day. The look of the town has changed. Instead of big box stores, we’re seeing architecture that enhances our streetscapes. Because of our successful focus on redevelopment, countless vacant or underused sites have been reborn breathing new life into our commercial corridors.
“The beauty of it all is that we’ve retained our hometown feeling.”
Mahan took office 10 years ago after beating entrenched incumbent Republican Mary Brizzell, and she inherited financial mess – there was a $23 million-plus deficit, there was little or no money being invested on anything by anybody in town and there was a dark cloud over Town Hall.
Now, 10 years later, there is about a $4 million surplus, developers are looking to build in Colonie and, according to a poll by the Siena Research Institute, there is a general sense of content among Colonie residents.
“In the poll, 95 percent of respondents rated Colonie as a good or excellent place to live and showed strong support for town services,” Mahan said. “Eight-six percent said our taxes were ‘about right’ relative to services. It’s pretty amazing when people think they pay the right amount of taxes.”
Furthermore, she said, the 2018 operating budget of $90.8 million is less than the $91.8 million in 2007, a year before she took office.
“In this day and age, with all the moving parts and variables that we have to address and be concerned with while running a municipality, it is very impressive that the Town of Colonie can continue to move in a very forward and progressive manner and keep a well balanced approach as to how we do it,” said Town Board member David Green, a Republican in the minority. “I’m proud to say I am a member of the Town Board in Colonie and I look forward to working in a very positive manner in the next year.”
Now that the finances are on solid ground, she said the town is able to invest in things like infrastructure. By the end of the year, she said, the town will have spent $18 million on its drinking water systems and $14 million on sewer improvements. Since 2010, at least $2.5 million a year has been spent on roads and 95 percent of the major feeder roads are in “very good or excellent” condition,” she said.
There are two major, upcoming projects at the Latham Water District this year, she said. One will replace some 2,900 feet of water main along Maxwell Road from Old Niskayuna Road to Hills Road and 2,600 of water main along Route 9 from campus View Drive to Turner Lane. The second would install about 3,800 feet of new water main along Route 9 from Old Loudon Road to Maxwell Road.
The projects will cost $1.7 million and $1.6 million respectively.
This spring, the town is anticipating the completion of a $1.2 million project to replace a 1978-era emergency generator and for roof repairs at the Mohawk View Water Pollution Control Plant, and the completion of the $1.9 million project to fix up the Wolf Road Pumping Station.
Finally, long deferred work at the town poll was completed in 2017 and this year, a splash pad will get built at the Town Park on Schermerhorn Road.
She also pointed to a $960,000 Drinking Water Infrastructure Improvement Grant to help defray the town’s $1.6 million share of a project to establish connections between the Colonie and City of Albany water systems and to the massive renovation project going on at the library thanks, in part, by a $1 million grant by Assemblyman Phil Steck.
Also, thanks in part to a grant secured by Steck, the town’s Municipal Training Center, is getting a $500,000 facelift.
While development was one of the more contentious issues during the November, 2017 election – during which the incumbent defeated Republican Frank Mauriello – Mahan pointed to a number of ongoing studies including a review of the 2005 Comprehensive Plan, the Central Avenue and Fuller Road studies, the recent Wolf Road corridor sanitary sewer analysis and the Albany Airport GEIS as well as the Albany Shaker Road Corridor Study.
To highlight what was a busy year as far as developers looking to build in Colonie, Mahan pointed to the decision by Ayco, a Goldman Sachs company, to build a new headquarters on the old Starlite Theater site.
“It’s all of us working together that makes Colonie such a vibrant and successful community,” she said. “I’m happy that 2017 proved to be a really great year for the town. Many more exciting projects are in the works and we’re really looking forward to continuing our progress in 2018 and keeping the Town of Colonie the best place to call home.”