Nisky ice cream trucks revisited

Town Board raises concerns about safety issues

On blistering hot summer days, there is certain music echoing throughout that calls children to take break and cool off with a treat. The ice cream truck a fond summer memory for many area children could be making its way back to Niskayuna.

In 1976 all ice cream trucks were banned from Niskayuna's streets after a young girl was struck and injured by an oncoming vehicle while gathering around an ice cream truck. Rotterdam banned the trucks a year earlier due to a similar incident, which proved fatal. Schenectady ice cream trucks stopped running during the same period, but the city lifted the ban in 1987.

In October of 1990, Brain Collis, owner of Mr. Ding-A-Ling ice cream company, sued the town of Niskayuna for his right to distribute ice cream from his truck in the town. Collis said the ban on such vendors denied him due process and equal protection. The Supreme Court of New York State ruled nearly a year later in favor of Niskayuna and said the town's concern for child safety didn't violate Collis' right to equal protection of the law.

Niskayuna children looking to bring the trucks back started a petition and gathered around 60 signatures, which they presented to the town. During the Town Board's special meeting on Thursday, July 15, a resolution was passed to hold a public hearing on the topic.

Councilwomen Julie McDonnell, whose son was one of three children who presented the petition, and Denise Murphy McGraw sponsored the resolution.

"I thought, 'Wow, start them young.' I think it is excellent that they get exposed," said Councilwomen Liz Kasper. "We have to answer a petition no matter where it originates because we have to respond."

The public hearing is set for Tuesday, July 27, at 7 p.m. during the next Town Board meeting. If the resolution is passed, there will be a monthlong trial period from Aug. 6 to Sept. 6, and no final reinstatement is guaranteed.

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