Glens Falls Common Council accepts redrawn ward maps for review | Local
GLENS FALLS – Glens Falls could be set to redesign its five neighborhoods for the first time.
The Independent Redistricting Task Force has had new ward maps approved for consideration by the Common Council at its Tuesday evening meeting.
Bob Curtis, former city clerk and task force chair, thanked council for appointing his task force members. He described the band as “devoted” and “principled”.
Mayor Bill Collins said the council is yet to approve the maps and the accompanying public referendum to create new local law that would make the maps official. The resolution passed by council accepted the maps for consideration, leaving the public comment period open on the matter for two weeks until the next joint council meeting.
Collins said he wanted to give the public, council and County Board of Supervisors members a chance to comment on the proposed changes.
“We have to listen to the concerns and decide,” he said.
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Fourth Ward Councilor Ben Lapham had a few questions about the process. He said he couldn’t remember a time when the board voted on a resolution to accept something for consideration.
Collins responded and said he wanted the process to be clear, so he wanted the consideration recorded.
Lapham then directed his questions to Curtis. Early in the process, Curtis said the task force would use only one criteria to make changes to ward boundaries — demographics.
But Lapham mentioned there was a condition being considered where each neighborhood would be guaranteed a slice of downtown.
Jim Clark, General Counsel, and Curtis both pointed out that the condition was included in the resolution which was unanimously approved by the council forming the task force.
Lapham said the task force also looked at where each elected official, minus the mayor who is elected by the entire city, lived to keep them in their respective neighborhoods.
“It’s something that should have been said,” Lapham said.
“With all due respect, how could we go through a process where Wards 3 and 2 no longer have a council member or city supervisor,” Curtis said in response.
Lapham said the solution would have been to adopt the conclusions on the condition that they take effect at the end of the elected term. Curtis pointed out that if they did, the local law would have had to wait three years to pass.
Lapham said he would wait the three years.
“Well, I don’t have an answer for you beyond that,” Curtis said.
He said the task force, made up of residents Robin Barkenhagen, Connie Bosse, Nancy Kelly, Lee Braggs and Mary DeSantis as vice president, never thought about doing anything other than keeping every rep in their ward. respective.
Curtis said that made the most sense.
“Why is it so wrong to try to have representatives? We are talking here about legislative representation, always living in the third quarter, and always for the second quarter. Both at the city level and at the county level,” Curtis said. “It was a no-brainer for us.”
Barkenhagen stepped up to the microphone and addressed the council. He said if a representative had been moved from their neighborhood during the process, it would have seemed political.
The task force was formed and authorized to disregard the policy. Curtis previously acknowledged that the panel only used 2020 census data when reviewing the maps.
“We didn’t want any irregularity thrown at us,” Barkenhagen said. “It was clear to us that (leaving representatives in their quarters) had to happen.”
Lapham said he was pointing out that this criteria was not mentioned as part of the rules when the task force was formed.
Collins chimed in and asked each member of council to raise their hands if they knew the task force would keep city representatives in their respective wards.
All council members except Lapham raised their hands.
“I think that’s not the right way to do this. I think it should be explicit in the amendment, and I think it’s very intransparent,” Lapham said.
He asked Curtis how many members of the public attend task force meetings. Curtis said none attended in person, but he was able to pull up viewership numbers from YouTube.
The working group met five times a week from April 21 to May 19. The meetings drew a total of 146 YouTube viewers.
Lapham was the only board member who voted against accepting the cards for review at Tuesday night’s meeting.
Current and proposed neighborhood plans can be found on the city’s website under the “Document Center” page.
The next scheduled city council meeting is June 28.
Jay Mullen is a journalist for The Post Star covering the city of Glens Falls, Warren County and crime and the courts. You can reach him at 518-742-3224 or [email protected]