Candidates for the post of Bethlehem City Supervisor recently participated in a virtual forum ahead of next month’s elections.
Democratic City Supervisor David VanLuven joined City Council in January 2016 and was elected City Supervisor a year later. Republican challenger Paul Heiser is a senior research analyst for the New York State School Boards Association.
In a nod to the time, applicants were asked “as new housing gets more expensive, what do you think the city should do to make sure housing is affordable for workers, people? middle-income and fixed-income seniors? “
Heiser says lowering taxes should be the first step for the county town of Albany.
âI saw a statistic the other day that the median home price increased by $ 50,000 between August 2020 and August 2021,â Heiser said. âThe cost of heating, the cost of heating fuels has gone up 21% from last year, so unfortunately, because it’s like I said, some of the things we see at the federal level, the Home ownership and renting are beyond the reach of many people. So what would I do? Well there are several things. First of all, I would make sure their property taxes weren’t too heavy.
VanLuven says there is a deep misconception about what affordable housing is and believes the problem can be resolved by working at the state level, to reduce state requirements for affordable housing funding.
âTo enable smaller scale affordable housing projects so that we can have them not only in large places where there is a lot of open land, but we can have them in shopping malls,â VanLuven said. “And we can also have them in the Bethlehem Central School District and Guilderland School District, in places where people can walk to services, walk to the grocery store, take the bus to work. , getting to work by car more easily and being more central to the community, and this is an issue that we are exploring very carefully in the overall plan.
Candidates were asked what recommendations from the Bethlehem Police Reform and Reinvention Committee they would like to see come into effect. Heiser says equipping officers with body cameras should be the top priority.
âIt will protect them, but it will also protect us. So that was the key recommendation of this report that touched me the most, so I will work to implement it,â Heiser said.
Heiser added that the report contains “recommendations to create committees to study things,” adding that “the issues have already been studied, studied to the death.” He says he thinks other committees and commissions are unnecessary.
VanLuven says his administration has made an effort “seriously” after hosting 31 hours of community public forums.
âWe have an exceptional police force,â said VanLuven. “But we also saw trends in the data that indicated there was disproportionate police potential that we needed to explore further.”
Applicants were asked about their water, sewer, gas, electricity and broadband infrastructure projects. VanLuven says the city does not provide natural gas or broadband.
âWe have an active plan that is being implemented by our public works department for the maintenance of our water and sewer lines,â VanLuven said. âAnd our teams are doing an incredible job keeping what for them is roughly 400 miles of underground, water and sewer pipes. We’re close to completing an $ 18 million improvement to the Clapper Road Water Treatment Plant. “
Citing a huge water line rupture last March outside the college that resulted in a week-long hiatus, Heiser says there are issues with the water and sewer lines that need to be addressed.
“So I think the main thing I would do, I would look at the city’s water and sewer systems to see which are the oldest and which are the most dilapidated, which are in need of repairing the most.” , Heiser said. “But then I would focus on the ones that need to be fixed immediately and quickly. We can’t have another situation like the one we saw last winter, when that waterline broke, you know, the problem should have been. be diagnosed before it happens.
VanLuven countered that the city had mapped water and sewer lines over the past decade, adding that the challenge was to find the resources to completely replace aging pipes, which he called “mind-boggling cost.” .
Perhaps the most controversial issue dividing the city is Proposition Six, involving the proposed Delaware Avenue Road scheme that would move traffic between the Albany City Line and Elsmere Avenue one lane in each direction. VanLuven supports the measure.
âProposition six is ââto go through the financial steps so that we can continue the community conversation about what the design should be so that we can do a detailed design of three different traffic configurations, and so that we can put in implementing improvements to our sidewalks, âVanLuven mentioned. “If proposal six is ââapproved, we may receive a $ 2.9 million grant to do this work. And to do that, can you continue this community conversation? If we vote against proposal six, we will lose this funding. . have major construction, but this will just replace the pipes and repave the road as there is no sidewalk work, no safety work and more conversations with the community.
Heiser says it would negatively impact the livelihoods of business owners and create a traffic nightmare.
“When traffic is blocked by what’s going on, traffic goes to places like Bender Lane, it goes to Kent, whatever, streets that weren’t designed to handle that volume of traffic,” Heiser said. âThis is going to be dangerous for cyclists, as there are simply too many sidewalk cuts along Delaware Avenue. I understand that there are 72 sidewalk cuts on this 1.3 mile stretch of the road. Delaware Ave. driving so it’s just tailor-made for a serious collision with a cyclist and motorist.
Watch the full debate here.
Early voting begins on October 23.