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Niskayuna leaders delay vote on Holocaust Memorial plan

Niskayuna leaders delay vote on Holocaust Memorial plan

Postponement is the second time Town Board has delayed action on memorial
Niskayuna leaders delay vote on Holocaust Memorial plan
An artist's rendering depicts the initial plans for a Holocaust memorial being pitched for a parcel in Niskayuna.
Photographer: provided photo

NISKAYUNA -- The town has again postponed a vote on whether to approve a Holocaust memorial proposed for a parcel of land off Route 7.

The board had been scheduled to vote on a special use permit necessary for the construction of the memorial at its June 26 meeting. Tuesday morning, Niskayuna officials  announced the new date for the vote -- Sept. 25.

The vote originally was scheduled for May 22, but the town canceled that in order to give the memorial's proponents time to win broader support for the project, which has been opposed by some residents.

Dr. Michael Lozman, a Latham orthodontist, wants to build the $1.4 million memorial on 2 acres of land donated by Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery. Because the land is located in a residentially zoned section of town, the Town Board must grant a special use permit for the project, if it is to be built.

Tuesday's decision came after a meeting called by town Supervisor Yasmine Syed and Councilwoman Denise Murphy McGraw, at which residents' concerns -- and a lack of consensus within the Jewish community about the project -- were discussed.

"Today's announcement is good news," Syed said in a prepared statement. "Throughout this process, my goal has been to allow for a civil discussion between those who support the Jewish Holocaust Memorial and those with various concerns about the project. By delaying the Town Board vote on the application until September, the members of the memorial committee have allowed residents to continue to voice their concerns in a structured way."

Murphy McGraw said she is hoping for more communication over the proposal.

“Niskayuna has a rich culturally history as well as one that respects and values all residents,” she said.  “My hope in bringing together all parties is to allow for greater communication and consensus building.”

Lozman welcomed the extra time.

"It is deeply meaningful to me to have the support of the Albany Diocese, the Jewish Federation, the Town of Niskayuna and so many other stakeholders in collaborating on this incredibly important project," Lozman said in a prepared statement. "I look forward to working together in the months to come to ensure this memorial is a lasting and important symbol for the Capital District community."

Lozman first proposed the memorial in the fall. On April 10, about 120 people packed the boardroom at Niskayuna Town Hall for a public hearing on the project, with dozens speaking for and against the project over the course of more than two hours.

The project, if approved, would include a rail car meant to symbolize the way Jews and others were transported to concentration camps during World War II. A dark wall on the grounds would symbolize the gas chambers used in those camps.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]

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