Niskayuna pushes back Holocaust memorial vote for fourth time

View of the site of a proposed Holocaust memorial on Route 7 in Niskayuna. (Marc Schultz/Gazette Photographer)View of the site of a proposed Holocaust memorial on Route 7 in Niskayuna. (Marc Schultz/Gazette Photographer)

BY JEFF WILKIN
Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA — The Town Board has once again pushed back a vote on the controversial Holocaust memorial proposed for a parcel of land off Route 7.

Town officials on Wednesday said the vote on the special use permit — which had been scheduled for the board’s Dec. 18 meeting — will be held in June, instead. It was the fourth postponement of the vote.

Albany attorney Dan Hubbell, of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, representing Capital District Jewish Holocaust Memorial LLC, requested the adjournment in an email to board member Denise Murphy McGraw. The message later was forwarded to Supervisor Yasmine Syed, the other board members and town Planner Laura Robertson.

Dr. Michael Lozman, a Latham orthodontist, initially proposed building a $1.4 million memorial on 2 acres of land donated by Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery. Because the land is zoned for residential use, the Town Board must grant a special-use permit for work to begin.

“The applicant has been working closely with representatives from the Jewish Federation and Congregation Gates of Heaven to build consensus behind a revised design,” Hubbell wrote in the note. “The applicant is endeavoring to present a revised design for the Town Board’s review by the end of March 2019, at which point the Town Board will have the months of April and May to hold community forums on the revised design.”

Syed said the memorial’s planning committee wants more time to finalize the design and give the public a chance to voice opinions.

“The public should be involved,” Syed said. “That was my hope — they would be careful and considerate about it, and I think they are being as careful as can be.”

The original concept has been scrapped. Reminders of German concentration camps, including a large dark wall and a rail car, were removed from the project plans in August.

Town officials have said significant changes in the original site plan will require the applicant to once again appear before the town’s Planning Board and Zoning Commission.

McGraw said she has remained in contact with people working on the project.

“It is my understanding Dr. Lozman and the Jewish Federation are making tremendous progress on an entirely new design,” McGraw said in an email.

“I am willing to grant Dr. Lozman another extension, as long as everyone can adhere to the goals I have stated from the beginning — consensus on the design, educational components and location,” McGraw said. “Once the group has a completed new design, we will host a series of community conversations. Having as much input as possible is never a bad thing.”

Contact Daily Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at wilkin@dailygazette.com.