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Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations

Meeting Minutes of October 1, 2003

Albany Public Library

 

 

1.                  CANA Chair Howard Stoller called the meeting to order.

 

2.                  Introductions

 

3.                  The minutes of the September 3, 2003 , meeting were approved.

 

4.                  Guest Speaker:  Monique Wahba, Project Manager, City of Albany Department of Development and Neighborhood Planning, presented information about the Arbor Hill Neighborhood Plan.

 

            The purpose of the Arbor Hill neighborhood planning effort is to develop consensus on strategic actions to revitalize neighborhood.  As project manager, Ms. Wahba implements the coordination of the people and agencies involved in the Arbor Hill Neighborhood Plan. 

 

            The Arbor Hill neighborhood planning area is contained within the area of the city bordered on the north at Tivoli Street on the north; Broadway on the east, Sheridan Avenue on the south, and Henry Johnson Boulevard on the west.  Within that area are two smaller neighborhoods--Sheridan Hollow and Ten Broeck Triangle.  The plan is guided by the AH Neighborhood Advisory Committee which represents stakeholders such as homeowners, tenants, lenders, neighborhood associations, faith-based groups, service organizations, and the City of Albany.  Community Builders, Inc provides technical assistance and Behan Planning Associates, LLC provides plans and designs through a grant from the HUD and the Albany Local Development Corporation.

 

            An initial public meeting was held in June 2002, and a design workshop was held in September of 2002.  The final public meeting was held in June 2003.  Four focus areas were identified at the design workshop and committees were developed and organized.  Planning consultants and staff developed budget estimates and matched actions to resources.

           

Focus Area I:  Homeownership and Rental Housing

Guiding Principles:

1.      Support new lower density housing

2.      Rehabilitate existing housing and build compatible infill housing

3.      Provide a variety of housing types

4.      Use high-quality designs and materials

5.      Support existing homeowners

Key Actions:

1.      Albany Community Development Agency and AHA development plan to

        Renovate existing and build new housing in clusters by leveraging publicly-owned housing

        Strive for equal ratio of owners and renters

        Target abandoned buildings for demolition or rehabilitation

        Control density with average of two housing units per lot

        Provide for and integrate market-rate and subsidized housing opportunities

        Form support networks for homeowners and renters

        Serve needs by providing amenities such as off street parking

        Support the re-opening of the former Robin Daycare Center

2.      Implement an initiative to reduce the number of abandoned properties

        Launch pilot program with Albany County to return abandoned buildings and lots to productive use

        Work with Enterprise Foundation to develop a strategy and entity focused on acquiring, rehabilitating and/or demolishing abandoned properties in the city

        Continue efforts to create more homeowners

3.      Seek financial incentives for property owners to rehabilitate properties

Status:

1.      Albany Housing Authority consulting with Arbor Hill Plan Committee

2.      Pilot program developed with Albany County to transfer 13  buildings and 45 lots for development

3.      Working with Enterprise Foundation to develop entity to acquire and dispose of abandoned buildings

 

Focus Area II:  Arts, Culture and Heritage

            Guiding Principles:

1.      Preserve historic integrity of neighborhood by maximizing reuse of historic buildings

2.      Support cultural institutions' applications for grant funding

3.      Promote Arbor Hill as place for arts, culture and heritage

4.      Expand public participation in the arts

Key Actions:

1.      Support reuse of historic buildings

2.      Support ongoing Underground Railroad research and other research pertaining to the African-American experience

3.      Create Arbor Hill Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee

4.      Support new library services

 

Focus Area III:  Business and Job Development

            Guiding Principles:

1.                  Support Henry Johnson Boulevard and Clinton Avenue as primary commercial area

2.                  Expand services and promote growth of quality small businesses

3.                  Support and develop marketable sites

4.                  Build upon emerging ethnic restaurants and grocers

5.                  Make and enhance streetscape to improve image

Key Actions:

1.      Hold small business development workshops

2.      Expand Empire Zone

3.      Support opening of SEFCU branch in Arbor Hill

4.      Support proposed Chinatown Plaza on No. Pearl St.

5.      Support Whitney Young Health Facility's efforts to acquire Urban League Building for use as pharmacy

6.      Market strategic commercial sites on Henry Johnson Boulevard at Livingston and Sheridan Avenues

Status:

1.      SEFCU will be opening a pedestrian-friendly branch at 388 Clinton Avenue

2.      A seven-week series of small business workshops were held; about 20 people attended       each

 

Focus Area IV:  Quality of Life

            Guiding Principles:

1.      Improve relationship between police and community

2.      Make physical improvements to enhance public safety

3.      Support efforts to clean and beautify Arbor Hill

4.      improve existing and develop new green spaces

5.      Calm traffic and make neighborhood more pedestrian friendly.

6.      Provide parking on street for residents

7.      Strengthen physical connections to downtown

Key Actions:

1.      Establish Quality of Life Committee comprised of police officers and neighborhood community

2.      Make lighting improvements and clear vegetation in problem areas

3.      Encourage efforts to clean and beautify Arbor Hill

4.      Continue code enforcement activities

5.      Support efforts to light St. Joseph's Church

6.      Remediate brownfield sites

7.      Consider playground for New Covenant School

8.      Investigate improvements to traffic flow on Henry Johnson Boulevard

9.      Support residential parking permit system

Status:

1.      Residents developed and signed a public safety petition

2.      Clean ups are taking place

3.      Neighborhood block parties being held

4.      Work has begun to improve the neighborhoods parks

5.      A spring block party is being planned

 

The implementation goals are to continue emphasis on the plan's four areas of focus and provide different opportunities for involvement and networking with other individuals.  The primary responsibility for implementing the plan will lie with the sub-committees for the plan's four focus areas.  They will meet as needed.  Participation is open to all interested parties.  Representatives of the sub-committees will meet monthly to share progress.   A Friends of Arbor Hill organization will be established.

 

Questions and Answers:

1.      How will the neighborhood be made traffic and pedestrian friendly?

            Mass transit was not identified as an issue.  Street improvements are planned in the city during             2005, and Henry Johnson Boulevard is under consideration. 

2.       What areas are being considered as playgrounds?

            Areas in Sheridan Hollow include the splash pool area and Sheridan Avenue are being             considered.

3.      What are the City's zoning board's commitments?

            The BZA reviews plans on a case-by-case basis and attempts to be flexible to get developers        to invest and get a good return.  A worksheet is being developed to promote conformity of all applications.  The BZA knows that although homeownership is being cultivated, it is not an          option for all individuals; therefore, rental units are a necessity even though the City loses tax     dollars on multiple family dwellings.           

4.      What are the architectural plans for the Chinatown facility?

            The present plan is for the structure to be one city block square with parking not visible from            the streets.  Two or three houses presently on the site will be torn down and a church will be       conformed to commercial use.  There will be an outdoor cafe and several vendors within     the structure.

 

5.                  Financial Report

            CANA's financial report is contained in the meeting agenda.  The $3,000 grant from the Albany             Housing Authority has been received and deposited.

 

6.                  Committee Reports

           

        Neighborhood Works IV - Gene Solan

Neighborhood Works IV conference will be held on November 22, 2003 , from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the First Lutheran Church at 646 State Street .  The focus of this year's conference is "Exploring the Impact of High Tech Changes on Albany's Neighborhoods."  The keynote will be delivered by Todd Fabozzi of the Capital District Planning Commission.  There will be a "high tech" panel and "Albany's hidden assets" panel as well as a neighborhood planning presentation.  Flyers were distributed to CANA members present and include information about registration.

 

        Cable Television - Steve Winters

            The mayor's cable committee has met three times; no specific ideas have yet been             developed.  A representative from CANA spoke for 40 minutes at the last meeting and             suggested that the committee consider hiring a consultant.  Chairman Torcinello       indicated that it is unlikely that the services of a consultant will be used, and that the       committee will probably use the method it has used in the past.

 

        Community Police Council - Helen Black

            Chief Robert Wolfgang was contacted when CANA representatives did not receive a             notice of the September meeting. He stated that Community Police Council meetings          are cancelled until further notice.  Chief Wolfgang will be invited to the December CANA             meeting to discuss the Community Police Council.

 

            The following resolution was introduced and adopted:

 

"The Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations commends Commander Steve Stella for his strong leadership and support of neighborhood and community policing efforts."

 

  1. Other

 

        Grant to CANA from Albany Housing Authority

            Nine proposals were made to the chairman for the allocation for the $3,000 AHA grant.        A resolution was adopted to fund each of the proposals; therefore, each of the following             associations may commit to their expenditures with the stipulations indicated.

 

Organization

Requested

Purpose

Awarded

CANA

$1,052

CANA communications costs & software

$285 for copying & postage

CANA Abandoned Buildings

$310

Codes Violation Checklist

$310 Full amount funded

DANA

0

Advertise information about neighborhood associations

The grants to the individual NAs will be used for this.

Park South

$200

Meeting announcements

$200 - Full amount funded

Pine Hills

$475

Neighborhood business directory

$475 - Funded amount pending firm estimate

Second Avenue

$416

Produce & distribute 4 newsletters

$416 - Fund one at a time

 

Ten Broeck Triangle

$403

Semi-annual newsletter

$403 -Fund one newsletter at a time

Upper Washington

$695

Newsletters, CANA membership fee, meeting room.

$340 for meeting flyers and room fee.

West Hill

$2,200

Produce newsletter & distribute via info centers

$571- only fund newsletter upon getting  firm estimate & plan.

 

            Information regarding the disposition as well as copies of the applications will be      forwarded to Steve Longo at the Albany Housing Authority.  Other neighborhood associations are encouraged to submit applications should any money be not used.        

 

        CANA Bylaws

            CANA bylaws presently provide for the "Neighborhood Resource Center to receive dues,             keep records and make disbursements".  A change to that bylaw will need to be       approved to substitute the NRC with the word "treasurer."  Additionally changes need to            be made to change the months that CANA meets from "September to May" to       September to June."  And the by-law indicating that a consensus vote is a "quorum of more than two-thirds of members present" should be changed to "a quorum of two-    thirds or more of members present."  A vote to adopt these and make these changes     effective January 1, 2004, will be taken at the next meeting.

 

        November 5, 2003, CANA Tour and Meeting at Semaech

The tour of the Sematech facility and CANA meeting are open to the public.  CANA representatives are encouraged to invite members.  The chairman will provide specific information about the locations at the facility for attendees to meet both to take the tour and attend the CANA business meeting.           

 

        Anti-Predatory Lending Programs

                        The number of sub-prime lenders mortgaging properties in Albany is growing; there are                               more sub-prime mortgages in New York State than any other state in the country.                              Predatory sub-prime lenders prey on minorities, low income households, and applicants                 with a poor credit history.  The high of cost of these predatory loans can have a                                         negative impact on neighborhoods when homeowners' large mortgage payments leave                                   little or no funds to afford to maintain their properties or make needed repairs.  The                                Afffordable Housing Partnership has introduced a new fair lending campaign called                                  HomeSave which is designed to help homeowners avoid predatory loans. The program                          is part of a national outreach effort.   Services offered include a loan pool for home                                     repairs; affordable loans to refinance high cost  predatory loans; counseling assistance                          and legal assistance to avoid foreclosures; education designed to increase awareness                                  of the dangers of high cost lenders.  Representatives of the HomeSave Fair Lending                                  Program are available to speak to homeowners at neighborhood associations, church                            groups, community centers, etc. and can be reached at 434-1730.

 

        Delaware Avenue Neighborhood Association

            The October issue of Hudson Valley Magazine contains an article featuring Delaware             Avenue area and its firehouse. A volunteer day and harvest festival will be held at the             Normans Kill/Stevens Farm on Saturday, October 4 from 12 to 4. The farm is owned by       the City of Albany, is the last working farm within its boarders, and is in need of    volunteers to help with horses, carriage trails, gardens, barns, trails.  Those interested            in becoming Friends of Normanskill Farm may contact Mary Connair or Louise McNeilly           at the Delaware Avenue Neighborhood Association.

 

        October 22 is the deadline to apply for the upcoming Albany police examination that will be administered on December 9, 2003.  The test is open to individuals who are 20 to 35 years of age.  Applications are available at city hall and police headquarters.  An electronic version will be emailed to Howard Stoller, which he in turn will distribute to the CANA mailing list .  CANA representatives are asked to get this information to individuals in their neighborhoods who might be interested in taking the test.

 

        On October 26, 2003, a jazz review will be held at Club Matrix from 4 PM to 8 PM to raise funds for Underground Railroad research.  Tickets cost $15.

 

 

10.       The meeting adjourned at 8:55 PM.

 

 

October 1, 2003

Meeting Attendees

 

NAME

ASSOCIATION

ADDRESS

William A. Hardie

West-End NA

780 Livingston Ave

Ethel LaPier

Albany Public Library

517 Western Ave

Daniel VanRiper

Lincoln Park NA

dwvr@atecone.net

Holly Katz

Mansion

harriskatz@mac.com

Mary Connair

DANA

68 Summit Ave

mconnair@yahoo.com

Helen Black

TB Triangle

39 Ten Broeck Place

hblack@nycap.rr.com

Fred Perkins

NSW

fperkins@nycap.rr.com

Louise McNeilly

DANA

27 Summit Ave

Pat Maxon

UWANA

34 Victor St

Anthony Bruno

APD

165 Henry Johnson Blvd.

PO Matthew Montesano

APD

165 Henry Johnson Blvd

PO Kathi Rissberger

APD

 Center Station

John Cerrin

Albany Public Library

cirrinj@uhls.lib.ny.us

Jeff Cannell

Albany Public Library

161 Washington Ave

Leane Paglow

West Hll NA

117 North Lake Ave

Henry M. Madej

PHNA

194 Western Ave

hmmadej@yahoo.com

Anne Brewster

WPNA

75 Willett St

Gene Solan

Pine Hills

126 So. Allen St

Harold Rubin

Center Square

156 Chestnut St

Clare Yates

CSA

138 Chestnut St

Bob Sheehan

Buckingham/Crestwood

71 Marsdale St

Andrew Harvey

PSNA

271 Myrtle Ave

Martin Gawoski

West Hill

300 Second St

Howard Stoller

CANA

Hstoller @aol.com

Steven Minchin

Hudson/Park NA

240 Hudson Ave

Steven Minchin

H/PNA

240 Hudson Ave