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Niskayuna again pushes back Holocaust memorial vote

Niskayuna again pushes back Holocaust memorial vote

Project won't be before Town Board again until December

NISKAYUNA -- The Town Board -- for a third time -- has pushed back a vote on a Holocaust memorial proposed for a parcel of land off Route 7.

The town on Friday announced the board will vote on the special use permit required for the project at its Dec. 18 meeting.

The vote originally was scheduled for May 22 but was postponed until June. That vote later was pushed back to Sept. 25; now, the matter will not be on the agenda for September at all.

Dr. Michael Lozman, a Latham orthodontist, proposed building the $1.4 million memorial on 2 acres of land donated by Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery. Because the land is zoned for residential use, the Town Board must grant a special-use permit for work to begin on the memorial.

Lozman and members of his group, Capital District Jewish Holocaust Memorial LLC, have requested the postponement to gather more community input.

In recent weeks, Lozman's group has met with representatives of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, the anti-Defamation League of New York/New Jersey and Congregation Gates of Heaven in Niskayuna. Representatives have formed a committee of design experts and local and national education experts to discuss design aspects and an educational message.

Members of those groups say they hope to meet with Niskayuna residents to develop a consensus on the final design proposal.

"We are making significant progress, and as we approach the holiest days of the year for those of us in the Jewish community, I have never been more optimistic that Niskayuna and the Capital District will soon have a fitting, appropriate, educational memorial to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust," Lozman said in a prepared statement Friday.

Town Supervisor Yasmine Syed said she believes progress has been made on the project, and she thinks a delay will further that progress. She also said she is optimistic a collaborative effort will come from the groups involved in the memorial -- groups that now include architects and artists.

"I look forward to seeing how each stakeholder's input will contribute to a memorial that will educate and preserve history, while also harmonizing with the town's landscape," she said in the prepared statement.

Town Board Member Denise Murphy McGraw commended Lozman and the Jewish Federation for working together.

"Once a new design is developed, the town looks forward to facilitating a series of community conversations to gain even more input from residents on issues such as the design, educational components and perhaps even location," she said in the statement.

Niskayuna Town Code allows for construction of a religious education facility in an R-1 (low density residential) zone, if the Town Board grants the special use permit. 

Town officials have said significant changes in the original design will mean the applicant will have to once again appear before the town's Planning Board and Zoning Commission.

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

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