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COLONIE: Public criticizes town action

Residents wanted answers as to why town equipment and personnel were used to overhaul a private sportsman club in the town.

They got them, although they may have not been as black and white as they wanted and they were a tad extensive. On Thursday, Sept. 27, the in-house auditing committee set into action by Supervisor Mary Brizzell two weeks ago to look into the questionable work, released its findings on the grading of approximately 2,600 tons of spoils or waste soils, at the West Albany Rod and Gun Club.

The 2 1/2-inch thick document was made up of 75 document requests; interviews with 11 unnamed town employees and managers; and was accompanied by soil samples from the site.

The audit backs the town's decision and the 30-year practice of ridding itself of piles of spoils and debris on private lands. The report alleges that the town saved itself at least $125,345 to dispose of the debris and that the public benefit far outweighed the benefit to the club.

The audit also made several recommendations to begin bringing similar projects of this size before town officials so that they may be weighed by the public and subsequently voted on.

Board members have admitted, as does the report, that the scope of the project was large and may have fostered the perception of wrongdoing as the two weeks worth of work was under way last month. But legally the project was in the right.

Some in the audience at the town board meeting where audit committee chairman Kevin Bronner presented his findings called it a cop-out. All residents and most of the slate of Democratic candidates in upcoming town elections in attendance at the report's presentation wanted the town to fall on the sword and right a wrong.

I don't need a 30-page dog-and-pony show to tell me what the New York State Comptroller summed up in one page, said Colonie Democratic Committee Chairman Phil Steck. "There is a general understanding in government that you don't use public employees to benefit a private land owner. The town should just come out and admit wrongdoing."

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