On the roads into Rotterdam, motorists may catch a glimpse of a Dutch windmill on a blue background — a nod to the town’s first settlers and its namesake in the Netherlands.
Look a little closer on a second time past, and there below the reminder of Rotterdam’s roots is its slogan. Its goal for itself, “Rotterdam: A nice place to live.”
However, the changing landscape in town has attracted numerous residents to town board meetings, where they often question whether or not the town is in fact a nice place to live.
Come the new year, those residents can expect more transparency on the road to what supervisor-elect Mollie Collins sees as a step toward improving Rotterdam’s circumstances.
More open lines of communication between the town and its residents will help alleviate the schism between residents and the board, Collins said.
“I think transparency will go a long way toward that because I think if the people know their voices are heard and they see what’s going on I think that will restore more faith in our government,” she said. “You have to have a forum where individuals can come up and speak.
“It’s not always negative, sometimes they have great ideas that you can follow on.”
While there may be a lot of issues to resolve in town, Collins said she does not plan to make the supervisor’s position full time or extend terms from two years to four.
“I think that having a part time supervisor is enough and I like term limits,” she said. “If you’re doing a good job then I would assume that people would want to re-elect you. We have full-time department heads, so if those department heads are good, and you trust them, and you have good communication with them, then they should be able to handle a lot of the business that happens day-to-day.”
Collins hopes to have a good working relationship with all town board members so the town can get everything it wants done.
“We have to work together as a team,” she said. “Politics should end the minute you’re elected and especially in a smaller town like Rotterdam. It has to be five people sitting up there that care about their town, I don’t care what political party they’re affiliated with.”
The incoming town leader, born and raised in the community first settled 350 years ago, graduated from Mohonasen High School in 1973, where her parents had her enroll in electives rather than study halls.
“In fact, on top of all that, my mother wanted me to learn to cut hair so I would have a trade along with having everything else,” she said.
She did not become a hairstylist. Instead, she did what many in the Capital Region have done for generations — work for the state and General Electric. She was a secretary for the government and then the Schenectady-based company until 1980, when she stopped working full time in order to care for her daughter Kenna.
Over the last four decades, Collins has kept busy with a number of part-time jobs, eventually entering public service. In 2005, she became Rotterdam’s senior services coordinator. The position became full-time after two years and she stayed in the role until 2017.
During her term, Collins plans to focus on several town issues that have become contentious, such as:
Residents at several town meetings have criticized the town for its failure to circulate agendas and supplementary documents before town meetings.
Moving forward, Collins said she plans to post on the town’s website meeting agendas and related documents on the Friday before a meeting is scheduled.
“I need the residents to come to the meetings so that I can hear and the whole board can hear where they stand on some of the issues and they can’t do that if they’re not reading what we’re doing at that meeting,” she said.
Collins also said she is against keeping public relations firm The Martin Group, which the town board hired in April for $36,000. The contract with the firm is set to expire in March.
Moving town offices
Collins is wholeheartedly against the town’s decision to move the town’s offices from Sunrise Boulevard to a 50,000-square-foot space in the old Kmart building at the Rotterdam ViaPort. She said she intends to pursue the town’s legal options concerning the lease which was signed earlier this month.
“I don’t understand how it can be a fiscally responsible decision,” she said, adding that $400,000 a year plus the money to retrofit the building is a lot to pay.
Over the past few years the town board has discussed the need for building out its sewer lines to enable more businesses to come in, setting a schedule to repair roads adequately and upgrading the town’s wastewater treatment plant to serve the town efficiently.
But all of that work will cost millions, not hundreds of thousands of dollars, Collins said.
That is why before beginning any of the work she wants to hold a referendum to see how residents feel. On top of that, real figures must be provided for residents to view so they understand what their taxpayer money will be used for, she said.
A proposed apartment complex for Curry Road has stirred up feelings in Rotterdam lately, with many residents opposing the construction and seeking single-family homes of large housing units. Collins wants to put in place a moratorium on apartment complexes until the town decides what it wants its housing needs to look like in the future. To do that, she said the town must wait for its Comprehensive Plan, which lays out what residents want the town to look like over the next several years, is finished.
“Once we get the comp plan from the committee then all the residents have the right to look at it,” she said.
In the proposed $26 million 2022 budget residential taxes are expected to only increase by 1 cent per $1,000 of assessed property value. However, the non-homestead or commercial property tax is anticipated to go up 24%.
Collins said there’s not much she can do for next year’s budget. However, she said once she is in office she and the two other new board members — Joe Mastroianni and Charles “Jack” Dodson — will have to look carefully at the budget to “reallocate funds and hopefully make for a better budget in the future.”
Cannabis dispensaries and on-site consumption locations:
The town has until Dec. 31 to opt out of having dispensaries or on-site consumption facilities. Collins said the town should opt out, so when her administration takes over the town will have time to figure out if it wants those types of businesses in town.
“If we opt out that means we will have time for a public hearing to see what the residents feel like, we can talk to the two superintendents of our school districts to see their input and we can then decide,” she said. “We can always opt back in without any penalty.”
Some of Collins’ Rotterdam favorites:
Favorite place to eat:
When Collins does eat out, she likes to go to Canali’s Italian & American Restaurant for their lasagna.
Favorite place visit:
She likes to walk the part of the Empire State Trail that runs through town.
A hidden gem:
She said Lock 8 is an amazing place to visit if you want to relax. In the spring, she said it is cool to watch the boats pass through the lock and see all the people fishing.
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Schenectady County