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Minutes for

Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations (CANA)

Wednesday, January 6, 1999

  1. Introductions
  2. Corrections to the December minutes:
    p. 2 The statement regarding library employee’s not receiving a salary increase is incorrect. They will be getting an increase. The person asked since there is no increase in the City budget the funds for the salary increase will have to come from somewhere. Why doesn’t the City include the funds?
    p. 3 Bob McRae was at the meeting on December 3rd.
    Cynthia Galivan moved to accept the minutes with the noted changes. Emily Grisom seconded. Motion approved.

 

3. Communications/Announcements

Senior Services of Albany is seeking CANA’s support for a CDBG grant to purchase a new "canteen" truck. Elfrieda Textores moved that CANA write a letter of support. Harold Rubin seconded. Motion approved.
Music Mobile is seeking CANA’s support for a CDBG grant to support programs throughout Albany. Mimi Mounteer moved that CANA write a letter of support. Henry Madej seconded. Motion approved.
The City is giving away rock salt until Sunday at 2 p.m.
Zoning Board of Appeals notices were distributed along with various announcements.
The CANA Nominating Committee needs representatives from three different neighborhoods. Craig Waltz (Helderberg), Henry Madej (Pine Hills) and Emily Grisom (Sheridan Hollow) volunteered to serve on the committee.
CANA members were asked to volunteer for one of the following committees: Zoning, Library, Schools, Budget, Charter Reform, Quality of Life, Community Police Council, Census. Anyone interested in serving on a committee should call Marggie Skinner at 489-5311 or sign up at the next meeting.
1999 CANA Dues are now due. Please send dues to Marggie Skinner, 49 Ryckman, 12208.
Pat Gorman, a founding spirit of CANA and the Delaware Area NA, passed away New Years Eve. Henry Madej moved that CANA send a donation in CANA’s name to the family’s designated organization. Cynthia Galivan seconded. Motion approved.

 

4. Committee Reports

a. Community Police Council

The committee will be receiving 15-minute monthly lectures about crime prevention through environmental design – creating defensible spaces. The downtown BID provided funding to produce 20,000 policing community policing brochures. The Community Police Council will present an award to one citizen and one officer. Each CANA delegate can make one nomination. Contact one of the following delegates to make a recommendation: Mary Connair (Delaware Area), Marty Jewell (Beverwyck), Shannon Hickman (Pine Hills), Emily Grisom (Sheridan Hollow), Maria Parisella (Mansion).

 

b. Community / University Relations
The next meeting of the committee will be in February. The committee sent nine items to a publication entitled Serving Commuter Students (published by Univ. of MD) and all nine items were accepted for publication. This is a significant recognition since SUNY Albany and Univ. of MD were the only two schools whose items were selected for this publication.

 

c. Schools

Continue to study the facilities proposal – next draft due at budget time.

  1. Guest Speaker: Mayor Gerald D. Jennings, State of the City

Mayor Jennings stated that many positive things are happening in the City and he reflected on 1998.

One of the biggest accomplishments was the passage of the Albany Plan.
36 new businesses were certified
$10.5 million in new investments - Progressive Insurance, Jillians on Pearl St. (March), new brewpub (March). More people on the streets will help dispel the perception of crime.
Decentralization of the police department giving them ownership of neighborhoods.
Working with Governor to break down Harriman Campus further to attract private investors.
Improve neighborhoods through home ownership. City plans to open a home store on Central Ave. for "one-stop home shopping" bank, maintenance, attorneys.
Upstate Agenda for cities - Albany Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse presenting plans that will impact all of upstate to the Governor, Speaker Silver, and Senator Bruno
Federal Monies – with a Hope 6 Grant the Corning homes in N. Albany will be demolished and townhouses built. Explore partnering with PS20 to build a community center for the neighborhood.
Lead paint grant most successful in nation.
Arts Culture Tourism (ACT 2000) - Bringing right mix of "entertainment" (IMAX, Movie Theaters, New Cap Rep – to Albany.
Transportation Corridor
Light Rail Study of Saratoga/Northway/Central Ave.
Intermodal Station – the Mayor is exploring building a train stop on this side of the river and integrate with bus station.
Professional Baseball teams want to move to downtown urban areas. Need land, parking and money.
Went through Reassessment - STAR program helping to offset property taxes for seniors and long-term homeowners
Structural deficit for years – having serious discussion with state. City has lost state revenue since Answers plant closed. Incinerator project left a $6 million gap. Mayor has spoken with Governor about amount of tax exempt state property and the income the City is losing as a result.
Continue to work with HUD and Federal Government to get money for the City.
Need to work on neighborhoods and the small business districts. The Mayor has a plan for infrastructure improvements including building facades, sidewalks and roads.
TIP money (Transportation Improvement Program) Whitehall Road is next once the City buys the rightaways.
Youth and Recreation – we should produce what we tell them is right for them
Keep kids in programs at school between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. when studies show most youth crime occurs. Time Warner money used to wire some school computers (PS19). Consider having one middle school and turning Livingston into transitional senior care.
There’s been a 52% increase in parking spaces over the past two years. 90% of cars on the Northway have one person. There are parking issues that continue to face the City and need a comprehensive plan to address all issues. Permits and meters are only one part of a total plan. $40 million commitment from the governor to build a 2300 car garage that will be used to take state workers off the streets.
Movement of workers downtown has attracted other investments.
SUNY Central Administration – plans to use the front area as a public area for entertainment. Alive at 5 or other public use.

Healthy central business district is crucial to vital City. When focus on one area – attract right investors. Continue to stay where we’re going with steadfast approach – benefit neighborhoods, businesses and City.

 

Q: What’s happening with Academy Hill/University Heights Proposal

 

A: Comprehensive learning, recreation, food services to benefit all four institutions. Great concept. City talks with them on regular basis. Plan needs to be financed, able to sustain itself and good for this area.

 

Q: Downtown on upswing. Residentially no further along then a year ago. Would like to share concerns and ideas and have a discussion with the Mayor regarding the City Marshall’s position being taken over by Sheriff’s Department; minimum expectations of landlords; boarded up properties. Key is turnover and ownership.

 

Q: Schools – what will happen with old buildings is a key concern – don’t board up and plan on selling later. Have legitimate buyers.

 

A: PS27 on Western Ave. is not handicap accessible. Trailers are being used and building is unsuitable. Consider building elementary school where current park is, raze building and build a new park. Need to look at creative solutions. Can’t board up buildings.

 

Q: Fašade development – how will NAs be involved. When is money available and how will word get out. How can City help move businesses to Delaware Ave.

 

A: One person will be assigned to handle project. Will be discussion with citizens. NAs will have lots of say.

 

Q: Library has shortened hours. Highest traffic area after 5 p.m. – more people after hours will occur with the improvements of the library, as it will become a meeting place and literacy training center. Recommend longer hours.

 

A: Answered by Jeff Cannell, Library Director: Based the change in hours on traffic and labor. Willing to work with organizations for use of library.

 

Q: Converting the Sheridan Ave. lot to parking garage would be logical.

 

A: Logical, but not to Sheridan Hollow.

 

Q: Crestwood Market is on Whitehall Road rightaway. What are the plans?

 

A: Development on Whitehall Road will be Adams Park needs work. Need to explore alternatives – living opportunities come up with ideas to use space.

 

Q: Bleeker Library and Dept. of State building? What’s their status?

 

A: Gutting DOS and moving Social Services. There’s interest in the Bleeker building.

 

Q: Foreclosed properties. County has auctioned property and purchase never closed or someone buys property and never does anything with it. This is tying up property in neighborhoods where a jolt is needed. Can City and county work together so people have plan before property is awarded?

 

A: Have had discussions and continue to. There are ways to create fabric of neighborhood if look at streets and neighborhoods.

 

Q: Did you know the tax bill is incorrect. It says to pay by the 1st but it should be by the 31st. There is a significant difference.

 

A: Will look into this.

 

Q: Need head count for census. Use local people instead of hiring outsiders who neighborhood residents aren’t familiar with.

 

A: Opened census office in Pine Bush. Want people from my neighborhood in my neighborhood.

 

Q: Started out the year with some unfortunate situations in the police department including delayed response to the Jenna Grieshammer homicide and the Jermaine Henderson incident. Training should project more positive issue.

 

A: Only takes one incident to mar department. At Conference of Mayors discussed this issue. Encourage residents to go through citizen academy. Take department and make familiar with neighborhoods (decentralization), consolidating court system, get cops on street – all will help with this issue. Some don’t like change and some don’t like supervision.

 

Comment: Decentralization of the police department is great and the lieuts are doing a great job.

 

Q: Cops on bikes was met with disagreement a few short years ago and it works. What about putting Public Safety Officers on bikes so they can cover more area.

 

A: Shifts change – one supervisor in charge of twelve PSOs. Doesn’t make sense to leave whole side of streets open for 24 hours. Parking permit will be difficult to implement and enforce. Need to look at options and what works best.

Need legislature to pass legislation on Albany-wide parking permit to cover the entire City so we don’t have to go back to legislature each time we want a change.

 

Comment: hill parking has ruined Sheridan Park. The Mayor invited Emily Grisom to walk down Sheridan Ave. to review the issues that need attention.

Q: Pine Bush, Ward 15 – what is the relationship with Crossgates expansion plans.

 

A: Have had meetings. Can’t handle parking. Needs better plan – can’t see anyway that the proposal can handle the increase of people and vehicles. Need business in downtown Albany. Proposal would have a five county economic impact. Zoning and planning would have say in the matter. Albany will be involved because of environmental impact.

 

Q: Budget Tax Base – for the past 20 years have seen new businesses and sweetheart deals. When do these businesses have an impact on tax base rather than increase taxes.

 

A: New buildings fully taxable. State buildings and Central Ave. Private corporations own and City lease would be an idea. Incentives used back then to get things started.

 

5. Other Business - None

Meeting adjourned at 9 p.m.

Submitted by Sandra Thomas and Marggie Skinner

 

Attendance for 1/6/99

Cynthia Galivan, Manning Blvd. NA

Denia Van Houter, Sheridan Hollow NA

Clare Yates, Center Square NA

Maria Parisella, Mansion NA

Emily Grisom, Sheridan Hollow NA

Colin M. Knight, Mansion NA

Howard Stoller, Melrose NA

Elfrieda Textores, South End NA

Jeff Cannell, Center Square NA

Harold Rubin, Center Square NA

Pat Maxon, Upper Washington NA

Craig R. Waltz, Jr., Helderberg NA

Henry M. Madej, Pine Hills NA

Thomas Gebhardt, University at Albany

Frank Benoit, Upper Washington Ave. NA

Richard Carroll, Delaware Area NA

Colleen Maloney, Delaware Area NA

Mary Connair, Delaware Area NA

John Fenimore, CDARPO, NANA, DANA

Robert McRae, CDARPO, Mansion NA

Ann DiSarro, Senior Services of Albany

Gene Solan, Pine Hills NA

Candida Santos, Rapp Rd./Crossgates

John Mounteer, Manning Blvd.

Mimi Mounteer, Manning Blvd. NA

Anne Brewster, Washington Park NA

Nick D’Antonio, Mayor’s Office

Jerry Weiss, Hiscock & Barclay

Chris Lindsay, Beverwyck NA

Marggie Skinner, Pine Hills NA