NISKAYUNA -- People who plan to speak during Niskayuna's upcoming community forums on the proposed Jewish Holocaust Memorial on Troy-Schenectady Road (Route 7) will have up to three minutes to make their points.
Town officials on Friday encouraged people to pre-register as speakers, using event management website Eventbrite. People also can sign up by contacting town Planner Laura Robertson -- emailing her at [email protected] or calling her at 518-386-4530.
Niskayuna last week said the town's Planning Department would conduct public forums to discuss the revised design of a Holocaust memorial proposed by Dr. Michael Lozman and his group, Capital District Jewish Holocaust Memorial LLC.
The memorial has been proposed for a two-acre plot of donated land inside Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery off 2501 Troy-Schenectady Roa. Because the land is zoned for residential use, the Town Board must grant a special-use permit before any work begins.
The first forum will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. inside Niskayuna High School's Little Theatre, which can be accessed through the school’s Nott Street entrance.
The second forum will take place Wednesday, May 22, also at 7 p.m. and also inside the Little Theatre.
Both forums will be moderated by Town Attorney Paul Briggs, who will open the event with an introduction of the project and a brief overview of the meeting’s format. The updated project will then be formally presented by the designers.
Following the presentation, members of the public will have an opportunity to share comments with the applicant and town officials.
While pre-registration is not required for attendance, people who have registered to speak will be heard first during the comment session.
"We ask speakers register for just one forum since we want to hear from as many different residents as possible," read a statement on the town's website. "Speakers who are not heard at the May 15 meeting will be placed on the list to speak at the May 22 meeting."
Town Councilwoman Denise Murphy McGraw, who worked with several groups that developed the new design, said the community conversations are designed to allow residents to learn more about the updated proposal and provide input.
"Our goal is to make participation as convenient and comfortable as possible," she said. "We’ve secured a larger room and are encouraging residents who are interested in speaking to register in advance -- by going online or calling the Planning Department -- so no one has to stand in line for long periods of time. We look forward to seeing all interested parties at one of the two forums."
About 120 people packed the board room at Niskayuna Town Hall on April 10, 2018 and spoke both in favor and against the memorial proposal during a public hearing.
A new design includes a large Star of David-type structure inside the cemetery, with information about "Names," "Bearing Witness," Never Again" and other subjects contained on the "walls" of the stars. Six large, slanted stone towers rise from the center of the Star of David.
The new memorial would be about the size of a traffic roundabout.
The original design proposed the inclusion of a rail car that would have shown visitors how Jews and others were transported to concentration camps during World War II. A tall, dark wall would have symbolized a gas chamber.
Lozman, in an interview last week, said he and other people who helped in the redesign process believe the new memorial speaks to both people who desire a more literal representation and to those who desire something more emblematic.
"We think our new design encompasses the message clearly in a medium that the entire community can stand behind," he said.
The Eventbrite link to pre-register for the forum’s public comment period is: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/town-of-niskayuna-community-conversation-forum-holocaust-memorial-tickets-61573489966?aff=affiliate1
Comments may also be delivered in written form to the Planning Department at [email protected]
Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]