Nicholas Fahrenkopf

Nicholas Fahrenkopf is running for re-election as Village of Altamont Trustee on the Altamont First line. He was first elected on March 15th 2016 in a special election after being appointed in 2015 to fill a vacancy on the Board. Nick, and his wife Katie, settled in Altamont after he finished his doctoral studies at the University at Albany where he studied Nanoscale Engineering. He is currently employed at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute as a development engineering supervisor working on silicon photonics – creating the next generation of microchips out of light (photons) instead of electricity (electrons). Nick and Katie have two dogs (an Airedale named Teddy and a Giant Schnauzer named Zelda) and two young daughters: 3 year old Adelaide and baby Eloise.

The Fahrenkopfs first became active in the Altamont community with the Save Guilderland Schools effort to keep Altamont Elementary School open when the School Board was considering closing it. They helped with the online and social media outreach, distributing signs and t-shirts, and presenting research and analysis to the Board of Education.

When the Board was finally convinced to take school closure off the table they decided to create a task force to study alternative uses for the “empty space” in the District. Nick co-chaired one of the sub-committees that presented a report on creating a small business and technology incubator program that would expose students to real world start up companies that they could intern with and learn from. This would have been similar to the successful program run by Schodack Central Schools in southern Rensselaer County, which happens to be Nick’s alma mater.

The School Board opted to focus on offering pre-K education through an outside provider when they realized they didn’t, actually, have that much free space for all the different options being studied. And now, four years later, the Board is terminating the contract with the pre-K provider because rising enrollments means they need the space after all!

In addition to his advocacy for local education, Nick is also a past member of the Board of Directors of Altamont Community Tradition, Inc. where he helped organize and run the community events ACT sponsors each year such as the Victorian Holiday Celebration, Green and Clean, and Strawberry Social. He also sponsored and created the ACT website and as a “Friend of ACT” continues to volunteer for their events when he is available. One of the reasons Nick and Katie chose to live in Altamont was because of the charm, history, and community traditions.

After being appointed to the Village of Altamont Board of Trustees in 2015 he was tapped as the Board’s liaison to the Altamont Volunteer Fire Department. In that capacity he worked as a conduit between the Officers of the Department and the Trustees. He both explained to the Board what the firefighters needs – and helped secure funding for those things – and was able to help the Department provide to the Board what they needed to feel comfortable moving forward. Nick also attended meetings of the Town of Guilderland’s Chiefs and Commissioner’s Association where the various fire departments in the Town planned their coordinated emergency response plans.

Most notably, Nick was able to help secure a $100,000 grant from the State of New York to help purchase a new rescue pumper. The rescue pumper was designed to replace both Engine 15 which was functionally obsolete, and Squad 13. This would allow the Department and the Village to own and maintain fewer pieces of apparatus by combining the function of E-15 and S-13 on the same truck. Time was of the essence, however, because since E-15 wasn’t usable the Department was left with only one first response pumper in E-17. If anything happened to E-17 the Department would not have a backup apparatus. Thankfully, Senator Amedore recognized this need, and the future financial savings it would provide the taxpayers of Altamont and was able to secure the $100,000 for the Village so the new rescue pumper Engine 16 could be purchased as fast as possible. E-16 was received and placed in service in the fall of 2018.

In addition to his work with the Fire Department, Nick has attended meetings of the New York Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials. There he was able to meet and learn from other elected officials from local governments across the state. In addition, NYCOM’s meeting includes a lobby day where he was able to meet with and advocate directly to our state legislators for issues important to our Village.

Finally, Nick has spent time analyzing the Village’s budget in comparison to other local villages as well as villages our size across the state. While every village is different, there are things that we can learn from bench marking ourselves against our peers. In order for the Village to keep taxes low (they haven’t been increased in over 14 years!) the Board of Trustees needs to identify and fix any structural issues in the budget that lead to uncontrollable costs. In Altamont, that includes things like streetlights (which, if converted to LED will save the Village money year after year), the reservoir (which now costs us less thanks to litigation by the Board in recent years), and fuel costs (for the DPW, FD, and PD vehicles). Lastly, many of the Village’s facilities (fire house, police station, museum, etc) are approaching serious disrepair. In order to be able to renovate or replace them in 5, 10, or 20 years work and planning should start now.