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Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations

February 2, 2005

   Albany Public Library

 

  1. Introductions

                       

  1. Minutes

            Minutes of the January 2005 meeting were approved.

           

  1. Guest  Speaker:   The Honorable Gerald Jennings, Mayor of Albany

 

Changes, both positive and negative, continue to impact Albany ’s neighborhoods.  Efforts over the past eight years have resulted in $2 billion worth of economic development initiatives for Albany .  SUNYs Center for Excellence in Nanoelectronics, Sematech and Tokyo Electron are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in new facilities.  The governor has announced that ASML will invest more than $325 million to create a research and development center and a consortium of nanoelectronic equipment suppliers will invest an additional $450 million.  The development of a new convention center will result in jobs and additional development.  The mayor will continue to pursue state and federal monies to continue this development. 

 

Home ownership is vital to the success of Albany and a focus on our residential neighborhoods continues.  A committee to develop a redesign plan for mid-town and the college neighborhoods has been formed and will meet again later this month.  An announcement will be made in approximately two months that addresses the Park South Neighborhood Revitalization Plan. 

 

Roadway improvements to Henry Johnson and Hackett Boulevards will be made this year.  New Scotland Avenue improvements will be completed ahead of schedule, and design work for rehabilitation of Central Avenue will begin.  Proposals will be sought for the redesign of Delaware Avenue .

 

Security expenses and municipal responsibilities in all American communities have increased since 2001.   In 2004 the Albany Police Department sought and obtained grants totaling approximately $7.5 million.  $3.5 million will be used to establish a system of radio communications that will permit all emergency agencies to intercommunicate.    Additionally the Albany Water Board and the Albany Port District Commission will partner with the City to build a state-of-the-art command center facility at the Port of Albany .  Communities surrounding Albany will be involved in developing a regional perspective and back up-plan for the water supply in an emergency.

 

The board of Capitalize Albany has been reestablished and will focus on technology, education, continued waterfront development, and downtown and neighborhood revitalization.  It will also work to find solutions to problems of truancy and dropout rates.  It will solicit the involvement of businesses in Albany ’s schools and develop supportive programs for students.

 

Using federal funds, Albany has developed its own unique prescription drug purchasing program.  Available to residents based on income, residents without prescription drug insurance coverage pay $7 per month per prescription.  It is the first of its kind in the country.  

 

The Mayor responded to questions and comments.

 

·        The possibility of including properties that are in violation of housing codes on the City’s website will be considered.

·        A plan to revitalize the lower Morton Avenue neighborhood is being discussed.

·        A work session is to be scheduled to address the possibility that housing funds may dry up.  Affected not-for-profit groups will be invited.

·        Neighborhood redevelopment plans will address the needs of residents who are effected.  The City encourages those homeowners to take advantage of funds, training and transitioning programs.

·        The city continues to struggle with the issue of permit parking. Such a program would increase property values in and around the downtown area.  Negotiations with the unions continue and proposals are being made to the legislature to hand back the power to cities to institute their own parking programs.

·        In redeveloping the Harriman Campus, careful planning is being made to compliment the city and surrounding neighborhoods.  A traffic plan is being developed that will eliminate the “loop roads.”  An OGS consultant is including the City’s needs and the Mayor is very active in the group considering these plans.

·        The presence of abandoned buildings in the West Hill neighborhood are negatively affecting residents’ ability to purchase homeowners insurance.  Residents would like one particular building at 525 Clinton Avenue that has been abandoned for more than ten years be used to develop a Project Lift facility.  Representatives from West Hill NA will discuss this further with the Mayor.

·        A plan to have one contractor demolish all the abandoned buildings that do not have historic value and cannot be made habitable was discussed.   Those that can be saved would be offered to residents who might not otherwise be able to purchase homes.  They would be assisted by the City’s homeownership grants and programs.

·        Not-for-profit housing agencies were asked to contact the Mayor and let him know of their expertise and consider attending planning committee meetings.

·        There is presently $120,000 still available in the City’s homeownership program.  Efforts are being made to re-fund this program.

·        There is presently no contract to provide cable television services to Albany residents.  Options besides contracting with Time Warner are being considered in hopes of securing lower rates for residents.  Other communities have hired consultants to compare service providers and make recommendations.  Names of those cities and consultants will be forwarded to the Mayor’s office.

·        Several real estate speculators have expressed interest in Albany .  To curb the rise of absentee landlords the City will increase and enforce accountability.

·        Downsizing the number of representatives in the Common Council requires a city charter change.

·        The chief of administrative services has been given the task of insuring that City employees are trained in customer service.

·        The public safety budget cannot accommodate all the requests for neighborhood foot patrols.  The chiefs develop those plans based on several factors.

·        The superintendent of schools is developing a formal plan to involve citizens in the educational process.

·        The development of Albany ’s very popular waterfront continues.  The next phase is to complete a bulkhead and enhance other areas for recreational use.  Luxury housing in that area is being considered.

·        The issue of reaching out to businesses that offer a greater number of living wage jobs was discussed because not all residents will have interest or be qualified for technology-related employment.  It was suggested that programs to train and transition people into those types of employment are needed.  

·        Drug use and related crimes plague the Lincoln Park neighborhood although there is a presence of Housing Authority staff and police personnel there.  Representatives of that neighborhood association will compile a list of addresses where this is taking place and forward it to the Mayor.

·        It was suggested that the City develop a master education plan that addresses the effect the development of charter schools have on existing public schools. 

 

  1. Committee Reports

 

·        Zoning Committee

The CANA Zoning Committee met for the third time on January 24 here at the Albany Public Library. Present were six of the committee members in addition to Lori Harris and Doug Melnick representing the City's Department of Development & Planning.  Lori & Doug reviewed with the committee the current BZA appeals procedures process that included relevant notice and deadline issues as well as the relationships with other government agencies. It was felt that they were receptive to questions about the process as well as related issues.  As a result of the meeting, members of the CANA Zoning Committee believe a number of improvements may be initiated:

 

1. A new sign-in process would be used to call up those who wish to speak before the board. It would better identify the speaker and their position. A draft was discussed and may be available soon. It would include appropriate signage to inform any participant of the new process.

 

2. To provide the public with a better understanding of what might be at issue, a brief description of the variance sought would be included on the yellow sign posted at the applicant's site.

 

3. Minutes and votes - not transcriptions - of meetings would be posted on the city website.

 

4. They will investigate the issues related to swearing in any speakers and applicants at a BZA meeting.

 

5. They will consider the addition of a statement to any application or related material whereby the applicant or other party would be required to attest as to the information submitted being true and factual. It is unknown whether there could be any specific penalty in the event the information was false except that we learned it is within the BZA' s power to reopen what was previously a closed case under specific circumstances.

 

6. Letters generally sent to involved parties - as in within 200' - will be rewritten in a more "human-friendly" manner as to avoid any confusion and to better communicate the actual issue.

 

7. CANA will be sent the BZA neighborhood contact list each year as a reminder to update the list.

 

The committee will be meeting again in about two weeks.

 

·        Codes Committee

The Committee met with representatives of the City’s Fire, Police, Codes and OGS departments on January 31.  19 people were present at the two-hour meeting.  Questions were posed to agency heads and the findings are presently being written.  The City agreed to consider revising it’s website to include code violations and a flow chart that updates progress in complying.

 

·        Cable Committee

There have been no meetings in more than a year of the members of the City’s Cable Committee appointed by Mayor Jennings, which leads and the Committee to question whether or not the City is involved in negotiations with Time Warner or other companies.   There has been discussion about the benefits of developing a relationship with cities that have recently renewed their contracts with Time Warner.  The Committee is working with the Town of Colonie and will hold the Mayor to his statement to review the issue.  The CANA committee will draft a letter to members of the City’s Cable Committee requesting a statement of their progress to date and identifying a date by which a response is expected.

 

·        Budget Committee

The next meeting of the CANA Budget Committee will be held on March 1 at Uncommon Grounds on Western Avenue .  Members who are interested in details of these meetings may contact Pat Maxon via e-mail at maxDANYS@aol.com.

 

·        Committee on University & Community Relations

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 9, 2005 , at the Albany Police Department, 526 Central Avenue .  A copy of the agenda was provided.  Local beer wholesalers have been invited to discuss the Committee’s Tavernowner Advertisement Agreement and the obligations of the cooperating taverns that have joined the voluntary program.   Additionally, the January 23-25 City of Albany Snow Emergency problems regarding college students will also be discussed.

 

 

 

  1. Communications, Announcements & New Business

 

·         Four neighborhood associations paid their 2005 dues at tonight’s meeting.  They are West End , Lincoln , West Hill, and New Albany .

 

·         The Albany Housing Authority has approved CANA ’s 2005 grant request for $3,000. 

 

·         Residents who are interested in enrolling in the upcoming Citizen’s Police Academy training may contact Fred Alberti at 447-8763 for information.

 

·         It was suggested that CANA invite representatives from Brighter Choice, the organization developing charter schools in Albany , to an upcoming meeting.  Residents have received solicitations and information about the proposed facilities on South Dove Street and Watervliet Avenue , which are considered to be questionable locations.  Other neighborhoods are encouraged to get involved in the charter schools issue.  The issue of these locations is not  on the agenda for the Board of Zoning Appeals but may be considered as a “carry over” issue

 

·        The 57th Annual Tulip Festival will be held May 6-8, 2005 .  The festival committee is seeking nominations for tulip queen. Those wishing to nominate a young woman between the ages of 18 and 23  may submit a letter detailing the candidate’s qualifications, as well as her name, address and phone number, and the nominator’s name and phone number to: The Albany Tulip Queen Judging Committee, City Hall - 4th Floor, Albany, New York   12207 or submit via email to  info@albanyevents.org

 

·        The Historic Albany Foundation presents Preservation Merit Awards to recognize

outstanding preservation efforts  CANA members are invited to submit nominations. Guidelines are as follows.

1.      Projects must be completed.

2.      Since a Preservation Merit Award is viewed as Historic Albany Foundation's endorsement of a project, awards will only be given where projects have adhered to proper preservation techniques.

3.      Preference will be given to projects which have inspired other preservation efforts.

4.      Individuals or organizations may be nominated for superlative preservation efforts or for continuing contributions.

5.      Special awards may be given for circumstances which do not fall into the above categories.

To submit a nomination, please send the following to Historic Albany Foundation at 89 Lexington Avenue, Albany, NY 12206, e-mail to etbearden@historic-albany.org, or call Erin Tobin Bearden at 518-465 0876.

·         Project Address

·        Building Name

·        Building Owner

·        Name, Address, Phone Number, Email

·        Brief Project Description

·        Name, address and telephone number of person submitting nomination

 

·        Friends of the Madison Theatre provided information about efforts to preserve the recently closed theatre as a cornerstone of the Pine Hills Neighborhood.  Presently approximately 130 people are involved in the group. CANA is being asked to co-sponsor an event to educate individuals and solicit public opinions about the site and by extension support the group’s efforts and encourage other neighborhoods to become involved.  A motion was made, seconded and unanimously adopted.    A meeting of the group is scheduled for March 8. 

 

·         Two CANA members (Mary Connair and Susan Holland) volunteered to attend a meeting with the mayor and housing-related not-for-profit groups to discuss the intolerable funding issues.  A list of involved agencies will be developed at the next CANA meeting.

 

 

 

 

6.   The meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM .        

 

 

CANA

Meeting Attendees

February 2, 2005

 

NAME

ASSOCIATION

ADDRESS

Holly Katz

Mansion

harriskatz@imac.com

Colin McKnight

Mansion

colinnalbany@yahoo.com

Dianne Hansen

Manning Blvd

22 Manning Blvd   hansenpd@earthlink.net

Daniel W. VanRiper

Lincoln Park NA

dwvr@mac.com

John Cirrin

Albany Public Library

cirrin@uhls.lib.ny.us

Pat Maxon

Upper Washington NA

maxdanys@aol.com

Andrew Harvey

Park South

271 Myrtle Ave

Aimee Allaud

Melrose

85aimee@nycap.rr.com

Bill Cleveland

West End NA

 

Gene Solan

Pine Hills

126 So. Allen St

Ronald Bailey

West Hill NA

1Bailey@nycap.rr.com

Dominick Calsolaro

Common Council

35 Clare Ave

Howard Stoller

CANA

Hstoller@aol.com

Tom Gebhardt

University at Albany

1400 Washington Ave

Joe Rabito

City of Albany

24 Eagel St

Matthew Montesano

APD

Henry Johnson BOulevard

Daniel Coleman

Albany Fire Dept

djcoleman@albany-ny.org

Chris Leo

City of Albany

200 Henry Johnson Blvd

Stephen Winters

Second Ave NA

sdoxie@aol.com

Harold Rubin

Center Square

156 Chestnut St

Georgette Steffens

City of Albany

200 Henry Johnson Blvd

Joyce Rambo

Center Square

189 Lancaster St

Eileen Murray

Pine Hills

114 so Main Ave

Mary Connair

DANA

68 Summit Ave

Lorenz M. Worden

PHNA/FOTM

127 So Pine Ave

Richard Conti

Common Council 6th Ward

151 Chestnut St

Sandy LeVan

United Tenants

33 Clinton Ave

Tom McPheeters

Mansion

14 Wilbur St

Jeff Cannell

Albany Public Library

161 Washington Ave

Susan Holland

Beverwyck

196 Benson St

David Phaff

New Albany

dphaff@yahoo.com

Jack Consiglio

New Albany

Jacknana@nycap.rr.com

Gene Damm

22 Fairlawn Ave

gdamm@nycap.rr.com

John Darnowski

NANA

TRAJANIMPERATOR@yahoo.com

Jay Baker

Resident

129 Clermont St

Valerie Roberts

ACLT

340 First St

Karen Johnson

ACLT/Resident

340 First St

Cliff Williams

Resident

561 Washington Ave

Steven Minchin

H/PNA

186 Jefferson St

Erin Tobin Bearden

Historic Albany Foundation

89 Lexington Ave

Dewan Bristo

Artists All Faith

453 N Pearl St

Rev. Joyce Hartwell

North Albany Arts, Historic

453 N Pearl St