January 7, 2004
Guest Speaker - The Honorable Mayor Gerald D. Jennings
Jennings reviewed and expanded upon several subjects contained in his State of
the City Address presented to the Common Council on
January 5, 2004
. Additionally, he answered
questions and received comments from
members to join him in extending
condolences to the families the three crewmen who died as a result of the
capsizing of the Stellamare in the
and the family of
David Scaringe. Support
and prayers for Lt. John Finn and his family were requested.
The last days of 2003 presented several challenges for the City and
an opportunity for citizens to reach out to help, comfort and support each
|The Mayor recognized the assistance provided to him by
during his first
term of office. It contributed
to his administration's record of urban revitalization and an increase of
property sales in the city. Compared
to other cities,
stands apart as a
city that is vibrant and dynamic. The
state of the City is strong and the future is bright.
|Declining tax revenues, health care
expenses and rising pension contributions as well as snow removal have
challenged the City's finances. However,
the City's clear vision for the future and sound management practices have
resulted in fundamentally sound finances.
has one of the
strongest bond ratings in the state. Payments
by the State for
have been moved
up. Mayor Jennings will continue
efforts to secure State aid for the City. |
has and will
continue to benefit from Governor Pataki's actions to transform
into a national
center for high tech development. Construction
of new facilities at the
's Center for
Excellence in Nanoelectronics is underway. |
|Through Governor Pataki's Empire Zone
Program, a State initiative to assist cities,
has certified 44
new Empire Zone businesses which are projected to create about 400 new jobs
and invest over $71 million in the City over the next two years.
|The City's Department of Development and
Planning, IDA and ALDC have facilitated construction of thousands of square
feet of new office, retail, and research facilities.
Construction has begun on the largest private office and commercial
complex since the
|Mayor Jennings reported spending a lot of
time with Schools Superintendent Johnson and continues to believe that
building new schools in the neighborhoods will provide the greater, less
expensive benefit to
's students than
the present reconstruction plan and is more likely to be a catalyst to
involve parents. |
|He also stated that a night only curfew
presents an inconsistent message to the City's youth and would like to see a
daytime curfew implemented. Youths
between 7 and 17 years old would be brought to school by authorities if they
are found truant during hours that school is in session.
This will continue to focus on the City's message to its youth that
it cares about them.|
|The renovated Palace Theatre attracted
thousands of new patrons for performances of great classical and
contemporary music and other entertainment events.
The Palace's historic marquis will be renovated in 2004.|
|Design Collective was hired to work with
Park South residents and advisory committee to draft a neighborhood
revitalization plan that will be unveiled during the early part of this
year. The interest of residents
and stakeholders in the redevelopment of the neighborhood is very
encouraging. The City hopes to
develop creative living opportunities for 25-45 year olds who work in the
4,000-5,000 people are employed or are students.
|The Arbor Hill Neighborhood Plan was
completed in July 2003. Homeownership,
affordable housing, business and job development and the promotion of arts,
culture and heritage are the focus of the plan.
Implementation of the plan continues.
The State Employees Federal Credit Union will soon open a branch
's church has been
stabilized and its future use is being investigated.|
|The AHA has completed construction on
seven new Energy Star Homes. Nine
more homeownership units will be constructed.
Up to 30 households in the South End will acquire or renovate homes
with funds secured by the AHA There
will be 20 new homes in North Albany as a result of Albany's commitment of
$74,000 to Habitat for Humanity.|
|Several neighborhoods were improved by the
C-1 neighborhood/commercial improvement program that concluded during 2003.|
|In order to promote the City's livability,
residential permit parking is imperative.
Some garages are in development; State employee lots are not being
fully utilized. Our
legislative representatives have supported residential permit parking in
other cities and plans are being made to inundate legislators with the
must have this
|The availability of mass transit into and
must be increased
as we experience an increase in population.
This issue must be coordinated on a regional level by a local
government council. Mayor
Jennings agreed to discuss an expansion of the current discount bus pass
program with CDTA because it encourages use.|
|The present loop roadway design of the
Harriman Campus is not sacrosanct and plans are being developed for improved
access, particularly to the north. Reopening
the street grid design is one option being considered in the master plan.
That concept would make the campus more urban-friendly.
The Mayor considers his seat on the planning body to be vital.
Neighborhoods will be asked to become involved in promoting
|The Mayor addressed
's issue with
training the members of the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The Department of State offers training for members, and the Mayor
will look into that.|
|Concern was raised about the impact upon
parking availability as a result of a decision by the BZA to permit the
development of multi-family housing in the Ten Broeck Triangle neighborhood.
The Mayor indicated that although he makes recommendations to the BZA, he
does not micromanage. Both he
and the members of the BZA is aware of the city's need for housing for
present and future residents and that parking availability is considered in
their decisions. |
|The Mayor was asked whether the City can
monitor or control the purchase of properties in the City.
He reported that landlord/investors are in a "speculative
mode" and that speculative buying is being monitored.|
|Mayor Jennings responded to concerns about
gun violence incidents and the amount of money available for anti-terrorism
precautions. The safety of residents and visitors in the City is his first
priority. From January through
September of 2003 there was a dramatic decrease in nearly every category of
Part One crimes compared to the same period in 2002.
The City has a $6.8 million allocation.
Several grants were secured to deal with the issue of gun violence
and homeland security. There is
an inconsistency nationwide about access to guns.
Most guns that come into
are from out of
the state. The ATF is active in
assisting APD in cases involving gun violence.
A gun violence task force put together by the Council will need a
has applied for a
grant of about $1,200,000 grant to track drug trafficking that impacts the
|Hearings are being held about the
improvement of the New Scotland Avenue/Route 85 corridor roadways.|
|The State maintains roads in the affluent
suburban areas surrounding
The Mayor would like to see a regional review of this policy.
|The County is selling Centennial Hall.
Residential developers are being sought.|
|The Mayor insists that all new buildings
constructed in the City of
parking for occupants.|
|Residents report that noise density in the
problematic. The Mayor agreed
that the area needs redesign.|
|The State has announced that it will not
be providing funds for new parks, but will be involved in the Hudson River
Redevelopment. There is
some interest by developers in the Ice House.|