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Schenectady County backs Alplaus residents' plan

Schenectady County backs Alplaus residents' plan

“It is preserving what we feel is Americana," says Alplaus Residents' Association president
Schenectady County backs Alplaus residents' plan
Alplaus Residents Association Board members Jessica Hornik Evans, center, Gray Watkins and wife, Vicki, discuss the hamlet.
Photographer: Erica Miller

SCHENECTADY COUNTY — The Schenectady County Legislature on Tuesday declared that a plan developed by residents of the hamlet of Alplaus to keep it as a unique small community is a "valuable resource" as the county makes future road improvement and economic development plans.

The Legislature approved a resolution supporting the Alplaus Hamlet Plan, developed by the Alplaus Residents' Association, which is interested in keeping the small hamlet's small-town character as the communities around it change.

The residents' Alplaus Hamlet Plan calls for seeking county help with issues like speeding enforcement on Alplaus Avenue, which is a county road. Their suggestions include electronic radar speed signs; building wider shoulders or sidewalks to increase pedestrian safety; providing crosswalks; and improving lighting and drainage.

Alplaus is located near the Mohawk River in the town of Glenville. The Glenville Town Board made a similar declaration about the residents' plan in April -- not making it an official town plan, but saying it will be a resource in town planning.

The plan was developed by the Alplaus Residents' Association over the last year with some help from former Glenville Town Board member Jim Martin, a professional land use planner.

Residents see the plan as a model other small hamlets and communities could follow.

“Alplaus is a special place and there are a lot more special places around Schenectady County," said Maurice "Bud" Watson, president of the Alplaus Residents' Association. “It is preserving what we feel is Americana. It is preserving a lot of good things about Schenectady County.”

Alplaus, with about 450 residents, is filled with houses built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, making it one of the older communities in Glenville, much of which is characterized by post-World War II suburban development. Residents say their community is unique and they want to preserve it.

County Legislator Sarah Mae Pratt, who lives in Alplaus, recounted walking Alplaus Avenue on Tuesday afternoon with a baby stroller and realizing how narrow the area for pedestrians is. The hamlet does not have sidewalks, though residents hope the plan leads to sidewalks.

“I’m really excited about the safety issues this plan is addressing," Pratt said. "Alplaus is a treasure, and preserving our communities here in Schenectady County is of utmost important.”

In large part, the residents' efforts to control their own destiny stems from public debate in 2016-2017, when a high-density development was proposed along the Mohawk River frontage just south of the settled area, on an industrial brownfield site and a marina. Those plans were ultimately withdrawn in the face of residents' criticism, but it spurred discussion among residents' about wanting to offer their own vision for the future.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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