Mud in the streets, in the crossings, no decent sidewalks or street lamps. Not enough water, too much sewage. Fires. These were the issues local community leaders were discussing in the spring of 1890. There was a real fear that the village of 543 residents would not survive. Incorporation would allow the village to collect taxes to be used in creating the much needed infrastructure. A petition was circulated, generating enough support to hold an informational meeting at the Union Hotel on May 20th, 1890. Attorney Hiram
Griggs (Assemblyman and Town of Guilderland Supervisor) led the discussion in favor of incorporation. A committee was created in order to see the process through.
The map and written survey of the proposed village consisting of 639 acres was posted in the railroad station until the special election which was held at the depot on Saturday, October 18th, 1890. The week after the vote, the Altamont Enterprise reported “The vote was a remarkable one – almost unanimous: 102 in the affirmative and only 3 in the negative.“ (1) (Only the adult male population were entitled to vote.)
Election of Altamont first Officers was held on November 17th of that year. Hiram Griggs was elected President and three trustees, Smith Philley, Jesse Crouse, M.D., and Henry A. Wilber were also elected. Sylvester Sand was elected as Treasurer. The first official Board Meeting was held on November 18, 1890. The first order of business for the board was the appointment of a Clerk, D. G. Staley and an Assessor, Jacob A. Relyea.
At the December Board meeting a set of ordinances, rules and regulations was issued and 150 copies were ordered to be printed and distributed to residents. Next came the installation of the gas lights, then the water and sewer system. And as promised - public safety, streets, sidewalks and parks.
On the 45th anniversary of the Village incorporation, the original historic marker was unveiled in front of the fire station then located on Maple Avenue. The May 24, 1890 issue of the Enterprise encouraged its readers to create scrapbooks to share the progress of this historic event with their children and their children’s children. Are there any of these out there?
1 - Excerpt from “Below the Hellebergh - The Story of Altamont ” by Arthur Gregg - 1965
Other information gather from Altamont Enterprise and Altamont Museum and Archives