NIVERVILLE — Members of the Town of Kinderhook neighborhood watch met at Town Hall Wednesday, November 30. They discussed a town curfew with the five residents who came to the meeting as well as cooperation with the school district to deal with drugs in the community.
It was the last meeting of the group for the year.
Town Board member Patsy Leader, who appointed by Supervisor Pat Grattan to form the group, said that 30 people attended the fall meetings. She said the group was formed after issues about criminal activity in the park next to Town Hall came to light. “It was a need,” said Ms. Leader, who lives in Niverville.
Most of the group at this meeting felt having a curfew would help law enforcement control trespassing and vandalism in the parks. But Eric Sandwall, a Niverville resident, questioned the need to criminalize every minor who was out after 9 p.m. “Can this awareness be achieved without passing a law?” he asked, referring to the effort to make the area safer.
Ms. Leader said the town board would have to have a public hearing before a curfew law was adopted. She said that the idea of the curfew came from law enforcement and the Town Board, and has been supported by the neighborhood watch.
Mr. Sandwall also questioned the composition of the watch committee. He asked if there was an elected board and whether minutes made available to residents online. Ms. Leader did have a copy of minutes from their last meeting to show Mr. Sandwall, but she said that the group was put together by concerned citizens “trying to keep our community safer.” She said meetings are announced in the Hudson newspaper, the Register Star.
Ms. Leader said the Sheriff’s Office had helped organized the meetings, though no law enforcement representative attended last Wednesday’s meeting. She said the town group plans to work with the Valatie neighborhood watch in the New Year and have more cooperation with the school district.
School Board Vice President and Niverville resident Regina Rose, who attended last week’s meeting, said, “This is one of the board goals to pursue the drug problem.” The school board has been holding meetings with law enforcement officials including the county District Attorney about the issue of drugs in the school.
“Part of the neighborhood watch is to work with the community to help our students all around,” said Deborah Simonsmeier, a member of the watch and newly elected Town Board member.
Addressing Mr. Sandwall’s concern that a curfew would criminalize all kids just for being young and out of the house, Ms. Simonsmeier said of the neighborhood watch effort, “It’s not to fight people, it’s to be proactive.”
The next watch meeting has not yet been scheduled but participants expect the group will gather again sometime in January.