Man To Be Dog’s Best Friend in Town Clerk’s Proposal – By Harold Wessell

  MALTA, Jan. 28:  A "pet project" – literally – of Flo Sickels of Malta, going back some 20 years of her 22 as Town Clerk, is moving ahead with the support of a dedicated committee gathered last fall, to see if the idea is adopted by the Town Board.

   Sickels presented a proposal for a dog park at Monday's Town Board agenda meeting, explaining how, twenty-two years ago, there was "a very small dream that I had for the Town."

   Over the years, she recalled, two parks were created, a community center built, then an ecological park established. Now she is asking consideration of a dog park on the Michalko property, and presented a plan to Town Board members. She indicated the committee would like to schedule a workshop and get the Board's ideas as well, for what will be called The Happy Tails Dog Park.

The park is proposed for part of the about-20 acre property, located on East High Street near Ballston Spa, which the Michalko family sold the town in 2006.

"The excitement is in the air, and the dog owners are going to be part of Malta's history now," she began; and over 20 years later, thanks to a committee that came together last fall, she was ready with a proposal for a dog park for townspeople's many pets.  "Before you is the dedication of not just these several committee people, but this whole town of dog owners. Every day, we get questions about an area for dogs."

Last year Sickels started investigating the property, some of which the Town Board had designated for a possible dog park last October. She discussed it with Highway Superintendent Roger Crandall; also with Parks and Recreation Director Audrey Ball, and several board members, "to see if this was an idea we might be able to investigate... Everyone's been positive, and wonderful, and excited about this possibility."

The committee was formed last autumn, and its first meeting included a walkabout on the property, she explained, "because I wanted everyone to walk around and see what his or her thoughts are. It's a beautiful piece of property and I think it will be a beautiful place for dogs running and playing in a fenced area."

Sickels conveyed the committee's wish for a Town Board workshop in the near future, when

Board members have had time to look over the materials she gave them just that evening.

She noted that, also included in the plans, are programs and training opportunities, and likely many events. Later, in a Phase Three of the project; there would even be a memorial area for cherished deceased  "cats and dogs, or other little animals that someone may want to have a stone there for."

"And I was thinking about a movie, Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner: "Build it, and they will come. "

She said   the committee already has a variety of programs they want to hold there; while the park "would be great for Malta and businesses in town – because everybody has to eat" – as good training programs are brought into the picture.

Councilwoman Tara Thomas noted how preparations were already well in the works, with even a site plan already drawn up. Sickels explained they were moving it along as best they could with the idea of opening next summer. She added, a not-for-profit is to be formed, and the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process is expected to take about a month.

Town Supervisor Paul Sausville likewise commended their efforts, and quipped about the "lobbying" abilities of the enthusiastic committee.  He stressed that there is "a broad spectrum of people" it would serve.

Among other discussions at the agenda meeting:

– Ball announced that two offers are now received to purchase the historic Collamer House at US 9 and East High St. An executive session was to discuss those.

– In an update on noise issues and efforts at GlobalFoundries, Town Building and Planning Coordinator Anthony Tozzi, to a question of Sausville about the sound report from Global, said the company submitted a report that provided the morning noise levels; but not the PM, and of particular interest late evening levels that exceeded the allowances, which he was told some inside background noise at those times was sufficient to compromise the data. He said the next report issued should be by next week, and that will include both AM and PM figures.

– Sausville announced that he would be in a meeting with Luther Forest Technology Campus officials this Friday at 8:30AM, to "learn a little more about Mike's [Relyea, president of LFTC Economic Development Corporation, which owns the 1,414 acre site] plans for meeting their obligations."

See also story, this issue, in which the Saratoga County Sewer District #1 is considering plans for the 3.5 mile private sewer system on the campus to be dedicated to the District, if as officials there understand, the financially troubled tech campus corporation is dissolved in the near future.