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Group discusses hamlet proposal

Bethlehem town hall hosted three Stakeholder Input Sessions regarding a proposed Slingerlands hamlet project with the hope of designing a new neighborhood community off New Scotland Road.

A group of about 40 property owners, developers, residents and town officials attended each session called a charette.

Charettes are intense multi-day meetings with developers, residents, and local officials designed to provide solutions to urban-planning problems.

About 100 different folks participated in all three sessions, said George Leveille, director of economic development. "By Saturday, an illustrator had some visual images on how properties might look in the defined area."

Professional consultants cultivated ideas to take over 70 acres of land behind the Price Chopper Plaza all the way to the Normans Kill and create a pedestrian-friendly place to work, visit, shop and live.

"We are going to take these ideas that have been a part of your life and start putting some images behind it," said Jim Segedy, landscape architect and professor at Ball State, one of the facilitators at Friday's Charette session.

"Our job is to turn those ideas and words into something more tangible," Segedy added.

Developing a pedestrian town center that shares Bethlehem's unique characteristics with plenty of green space were the main ideas generated by the residents from the first input session.

"The Slingerlands hamlet project meetings are incredibly productive," said Kyle Kotary, town council member. "This innovative, forward-thinking process is making Bethlehem one of the best places to live in the Capital Region."

Todd Fabozzi, program manager and geographic information specialist from the Capital District Regional Planning Commission, presented a slide show of four different locations in Westminster, Stapleton, and Belmar, Colo., along with one in Portland, Ore., that changed the look of their communities through a public/private partnership beginning with the Charette design process.

"These are four examples of new towns built, two of them reusing existing sites and three of them in suburban areas," said Fabozzi.

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