The wheels of government often grind slowly.
Too slowly for many of us.
Endless meetings going long into the night. New objections cropping up. New demands coming out of nowhere. An endless loop of going back to the drawing board and then back to the drawing board again. So many people to please. So many left unpleased.
A lot of times, the process of government produces nothing more than an unnecessary series of obstacles.
But there are other times in which a lengthy and almost tedious examination of a project works. It works for the developer of the project. It works for the neighbors. It works for the community.
Such is the case with the new Holocaust Memorial in Niskayuna, which received final site plan approval from the town Planning Board on Monday — the final step before fund-raising and construction.
The memorial, first proposed in November 2017, has come a long way since the original stark concentration camp design that provoked strong emotions, many of them negative.
Neighbors said they didn’t want to look out their front doors at a box car representing the transportation of Jews to Nazi death camps, barbed wire fencing representing the victims’ confinement, and a wall representing a gas chamber where the victims met their deaths.
Residents objected to traffic and visibility from their homes. Some in the community were concerned the memorial would attract vandals and protesters, which it still might.
So numerous public meetings and discussions were held over the past two years. Sometimes contentious discussions took place. Actions were scheduled and then postponed. Changes were demanded.
Backers of the project were asked to make the memorial less shocking and less visible.
Town officials took all the comments into consideration in their lengthy and sometimes frustrating deliberations.
Backers got the message, coming back with a new design that was less stark, but equally as powerful. One designed to be more educational and provide more of a place for reflection and prayer. Less of a life-sized diorama and more of traditional memorial.
Final site plan approval came with 13 conditions that address the impact on wetlands and soils, hours of operation, the view from Route 7, traffic and crowd control, lighting and security.
While the process wasn’t brief, smooth or always agreeable, every step was necessary in its own way, and the result is a project we’re sure the entire community and region will be proud of.
Sometimes, government actually works the way it’s supposed to work.
Thankfully, it worked for this one.