BETHLEHEM Updates to police tech, improvements to Delaware Avenue and more are planned for 2016 as the Town Board holds its organizational meeting next week.
The Wednesday, Jan. 13, meeting will outline the Town of Bethlehem’s calendar for the entire year. Here, a preview of topics that will be discussed:
New Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems for police vehicles are planned for the department in the coming year. The information management systems will update patrol officer’s capabilities to provide information on individuals they pull over, providing greater real-time information.
“In the future, other counties will begin to adopt this technology for greater cross-sectional information,” said Town Supervisor John Clarkson.
Albany County purchased the technology, allowing Bethlehem to obtain the system at a discounted cost, said Clarkson.
As the town and its two police unions continue to work toward a contract, the supervisor hopes the bargaining negotiations will be mutually beneficial and that a solution is near.
In 2007 the town began plans to improve Delaware Avenue, “for commercial, social and civic benefit.”
“I remember when I first saw those plans in 2007 or 8, here we are in almost 2016 and it’s finally going to happen,” said Supervisor Clarkson.
The Delaware Avenue Improvement Group, a group of citizens, business owners and community group members, have been meeting since that time to discuss ways to improve commerce, beautify the area and address traffic and safety concerns.
Bethlehem was awarded a $1.2 million grant in January 2014 as part of the state’s Bicycle, Pedestrian and Multi-use Enhancement Projects Initiative. The entire project is estimated to cost $3.1 million, so the town will need to make up the remainder of that cost in the coming years’ budgets, unless additional grants or fundraising can be found.
Suggested plans include upgrades to sidewalks, addition of bicycle lanes, improved landscaping and decorative lighting.
With upgrades to the Clapper Road water plant underway, the town is next looking at the necessity of upgrades at the New Scotland plant.
The town will attempt to renegotiate its water contract with the City of Albany, as with the updates to the Clapper Road facilities have brought Bethlehem “more water than it will ever need,” according to Clarkson.
The decision to upgrade Clapper Road was made in 2000 in order to ramp up water production, while a November 2013 study looked into the potential of similar upgrades at the New Scotland plant, as well. The town is still under a water contract with the City of Albany which extends through 2013, but as upgrades to Bethlehem facilities have made this contract unnecessary and cost-inefficient, the town is hoping to renegotiate this contract.
The town pays about $3.78 per 1,000 gallons of water from Albany, versus a cost of $1.73 at the Clapper Road plant in Bethlehem, according to 2014 data from former Commissioner of Public Works Erik Deyone.
“We have raised the issue of a long-term contract with the City of Albany. It’s much more water than we’ll need under these circumstances. But, there again, the city is financially strapped at the moment, so it’s hard for them to look at 2023 and the possibility of dropping Bethlehem as a customer,” said Clarkson. He estimates negotiations will take years to execute.
This summer’s road improvements at Borthwick Avenue saw traffic at the corridor to the Bethlehem Public Library closed or slowed for months. During that time, the town received numerous complaints from neighbors, which the town plans to address.
“It’s long-awaited. It’s a major route for everyone to get to the library, to get to town hall. We have a lot of pedestrians and children there so we really want to look at what’s going on there,” said Clarkson. The town will likely conduct a traffic study of the area before discussing ways to ensure pedestrian safety in the area.
“You can’t always solve all the problems,” said Clarkson in conclusion. “I mean, generally we can’t, but we think it’s important to try.”
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