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Altamont residents air concert concerns

Many residents of the village of Altamont said they were less than pleased with the crowds and the aftermath of last year's WGNA Countryfest, which was held at the Altamont Fairgrounds.

With the event once again approaching, members of the community are expressing concerns about how the village will be able to handle the traffic, noise and the litter left behind.

Mayor James Gaughan said he is aware of the concerns, and he believes the village will be better prepared for the event, which is scheduled for Saturday, July 14.

I believe that Guilderland is working out a bus shuttle plan which will be implemented when Altamont Fairgrounds parking lots are at near capacity, said Gaughan.

Altamont Police Chief Anthony Salerno said last year was the first year the village hosted the event, which was formerly held in Saratoga Springs. This year, Salerno said the village knows what to expect and will be working with the town of Guilderland Police Department to keep things under control.

"We feel things are better coordinated for this year, and we are currently working with the Guilderland police on a plan for handling the crowds and the traffic that the festival will bring in," said Salerno.

Last year, residents said that the litter from concertgoers overflowed into village streets. Noise complaints were also a problem.

Rose McGowan, who lives close to the fairgrounds, said the noise was excessive and went late into the night.

"Last year, I and many of my neighbors complained about the loudspeakers causing too much noise," said McGowan.

Altamont residents formed a neighborhood association last year, and that group will be addressing some of those issues at upcoming town board meetings in Guilderland.

Association spokesman Norm Bauman said he feels the village simply cannot accommodate the anticipated 60,000 people who will attend the event.

"We want to be sure that our village does not bear the cost and other burdens associated with the event," said Bauman.

As of Monday, June 4, Guilderland Supervisor Kenneth Runion said the town board is awaiting a traffic analysis from the state Department of Transportation. Runion said once they receive this report, they will look at planning for traffic, as well as a shuttlebus route.

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