Schenectady County Legislature candidates faced off during a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters on Oct. 12 at Niskayuna Town Hall. Sitting from left is Cathryn Bern-Smith, James Buhrmaster, Thomas Constantine, Michael Dieterich, and Kurt Semon. Not pictured is Democrat candidate Catherine Gatta, who was unable to attend the forum.
Photo by John Purcell.
SCHENECTADY COUNTY At two separate Schenectady County League of Women Voters Candidate Forums held in mid-October, it became clear whether or not the county should revise, review or withdraw plans to construct a new Glendale Nursing Home is a divisive issue among Schenectady County Legislature hopefuls.
Republican candidates running for the three seats in District 3, representing Niskayuna, Glenville and Scotia, questioned how the county would be able to construct the new nursing home “for free” as claimed in their opponents’ campaign literature.
Also, they questioned whether the county should look at alternative solutions by turning to private companies. Democrats contested the $50 million project is a necessary service for the county to provide for senior residents. The proposed project would be funded with the state covering 85 percent of the cost, they said. The county plans to increase the pay rate to market level prices to increase revenues and offset bonding expenses.
“I do know this, you can’t build something for free,” said Republican candidate Kurt Semon. “(Friends of the Indian Kill Field) have asked for a year and a half to protect the real estate from further development … and it has been denied.”
Semon suggested the county should possibly sell the facility off to allow a private company to operate it.
Fellow Republican candidate Michael Dieterich also questioned the “free” cost of construction.
“If we could get a free one, then every town should have one,” Dieterich said, with some audience members laughing in response.
Democrat candidate Cathryn Bern-Smith said the home is part of the range of services provided by the county for seniors and shouldn’t be sold off or let go.
“Schenectady County provides services to keep people home safe and independent; not everybody is able when they get to a certain age to stay home safely and independent,” said Bern-Smith. “The county nursing home provides a niche that private nursing homes can’t.”