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Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations

Meeting Minutes February 4, 2004

Albany Public Library


  1. Introductions

John Cirrin announced that the Albany Public Library will hold public meetings on February 26 at 7:00 PM and February 27 at noon discuss the library's facility plan.  Meeting will be at the main branch.  Executive summaries are available.


  1. Minutes

            Kathleen Kearney did not sign the attendance sheet at the January 5, 2004 , meeting.  It was             noted that she attended the meeting and the minutes were approved.


  1. Guest Speakers


            Helen Desfosses, President of the Albany Common Council - "Spurning Population Growth in        the City of Albany "


Articles about population policy published in 1999 predicted that Albany would have 100,000 or more residents when the 2000 census was taken.  However, between 1990 and 2000 Albany lost approximately 6,000 residents and the population was 94,301.  A follow up revealed that in 2002, there had been further population decline and there were 93,779 residents.


 Some misinformation that may be affecting people's desire to live in Albany includes


        People don't seem to be aware of the fact that the rebuilding of Albany 's schools has begun. 

        Albany has gotten some bad publicity through letters to the editors of the TIMES UNION

        There is an attitude that "nothing can be done."


Seven of eight older established cities in our region have experienced population decline as well, but Albany has fared better than many others.  The programs and policies of the Jennings administration have had a positive impact and are the likely reason that Albany's population has not declined as much as other cities. 


Other cities have instituted programs that are worth considering such as


        Announce a population plan

        Work with groups and organizations who are trying to attract professionals

        Take a regional approach to address the pending new development


Municipalities must work together on cross-jurisdictional issues.  In Austin , Texas population doubled within ten years of the establishment of nanotechnology related businesses.  To accommodate the growth, the community expanded into the outlying communities that were not prepared for the effect on services, housing, infrastructure, etc.   Albany can avoid some of those problems by using a regional approach to planning.  Several organizations have been formed to address this issue, and the Center for Economic Growth has recommended that a coordinating body be established to oversee the expansion of Albany and surrounding communities. 


There are several steps Albany can take to avoid a further decline at a time when so many people will be moving to the region in a short period of time.


        Make further efforts to keep residents

        Undertake a program to attract new residents

        Upgrade it's web site and add links

        Survey all citizens about issues important to them

        Institute a centralized 311 system to deal with quality of life issues on a 24-hour per day basis

        Establish a city-wide plan that includes a vision, a plan, and a commitment to implementation to enable the city to be proactive and promote connectivity and enthusiasm. 

        Provide more opportunities for homeownership

        Commit as a community to the new schools being planned and built

        Set up offices & programs to welcome new residents

        Recognize and foster residential enclaves that have formed as a result of immigration

        Work with the Albany Gay and Lesbian Community Center (the nation's longest continuing center of its kind) to encourage the gay and lesbian citizens to move into the city

        Young college graduates are Albany 's biggest export.  Provide internships to encourage students to stay in Albany after graduation


            Questions and discussion


        Most properties in Albany sell and rent quickly; however, there is a shortage of executive housing

        Regionalization should not surpress local communities' ability to rule.

        The Center for Economic Growth will probably convene all groups formed to address regionalization within six months.

        The Tech Valley Chambers of Commerce have done an excellent job of marketing

            Albany .

        Not-for-profit groups should play a role in the CEG "focus" group. 

        How to "get from here to there"

1.      Improve the City's website

2.      Institute a 311 system

3.      A city-wide plan was developed at the Neighborhood Works Conference; the City has stated that there are no funds or manpower to adopt such a plan.

4.      Recognize that people move out of Albany when their children go to seventh grade and continue to focus on improving Albany 's public schools.

5.      Mandate training for members of the Zoning Board of Appeals as recommended by CEG.

6.      City should promote neighborhood associations and community groups

7.      Use public access television to educate and promote Albany



Michael Breslin, Albany County Executive


As Medicaid enrollment grows and the State adds new programs and services, the amount of money counties must contribute to that State program increases.  Those increases have averaged 15 percent in each of the years since 1995.  The County's proposed Medicaid appropriation will be $65.5 million for 2004, which is a 60 percent increase since 2000.  Since 1999 Albany County Medicaid appropriations have been higher than the entire County tax levy.


Several reasons for that increase have been identified.


        People live longer and the number of people receiving Medicaid benefits has increased

        The cost of medicines and pharmaceuticals has increased and the State has not pursued a drug-buying program

        The State adds new programs each year such as Family Health Plus  

        Eligibility requirements change

        People divest their assets to qualify for Medicaid


With a $40 million surplus in County funds depleted, Albany faces reducing it's workforce by 300 positions over the next 18 months as well as a reduction of services in order to pay its share of Medicaid costs.  Executive Breslin believes that there must be a cap placed on the increases counties and local governments are expected to pay.  The State should pay for any additional programs or services it enacts by increasing business taxes, rather than passing the cost to counties who are forced to increase property taxes and/or cut services.   New York State has created a task force to study the control of costs to counties.  A Governor's task force recommended that the State pay for all increased costs starting with Family Health Plus.  


Mr. Breslin seeks support in the "Cap Medicaid Now" campaign to hold county taxpayers harmless from further increases in Medicaid costs.  Petitions can be signed at  Pre-addressed postcards were distributed for members to use to communicate support to him and, in turn, to the State of New York .


            Marci Nelligan - Capital District Community Gardens


Capital District Community Gardens is a not-for-profit group that establishes and assists in the operation of 39 cooperative food gardens presently in the area.  They also organize tree plantings in Rensselaer County .  Community gardens beautify the community, contribute to good health, promote self sufficiency and cut living costs to families.   They also build and bring together communities.   Land for use as community gardens is donated, leased, owned by municipalities, or bought at public auctions.  The staff and volunteers are eager to work with the neighborhood associations in establishing community gardens.  Tours of the gardens are available.  Gardeners and other volunteers are also needed.  They can be contacted at 247-8685 or at


  1. Announcements and Other Business


        Ernest Sternberg is available to speak in May on "Heritage-Based Tourism."  However he is only available to Thursday, May 20 or Friday, May 21.  The chairman asked for suggestions about whether to change the date of the May CANA meeting or to sponsor a speech by Mr. Sternberg as a separate, special event.  The consensus was that it should be scheduled as a separate event.  John Cirrin will determine whether one of the meeting rooms at the Albany Public Library Main Branch is available for one of those dates. 


        The Albany County website has a map of the new districts.  Candidates for election to the newest districts of the Albany County Legislature are being sought.  Petitions are received at the Albany County Board of Elections offices between 8:30 and 4:30 Monday through Friday.  They can be reached for more information at 487-5060.


        Neighborhood announcements are welcome on the CANA website.  John O'Grady of West End Neighborhood Association is seeking assistance in placing information in the neighborhoods section of the TIMES UNION website.


        Five neighborhood associations presently participate in the committee established to address issues about parking.  That committee focuses on downtown parking.  CANA endorses the committee and recommends that other neighborhood associations join so that involvement is broadened.


  1. Committee Reports


        Committee on University and Community Relations - Tom Gebhardt


The next meeting will be at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, February 11 at the Albany Police Department at 526 Central Avenue .  A copy of the agenda was distributed.  Advertising campaigns continue.


  1. Financial Report


A few associations have paid dues since the report included in the agenda was issued.


  1. Adjournment


            The meeting adjourned at 8:50 PM .





February 4, 2004

Meeting Attendees





Kathleen Kearney


326 Hudson Ave

Daniel VanRiper

Lincoln Park NA

Helen Black

TB Triangle

39 Ten Broeck Place

Bill Pettit


369 1/2 State St

Richard Conti

Common Council

151 Chestnut St .

Isla Roonce


196 Jefferson St

Marggie Skinner


49 Ryckman Ave

Marci Nelligan

Capital District Community Gardens

40 River St. , Troy

PO Kathi Rissberger

APD, Center Station

536 Western Ave

John Cirrin

Albany Public Library

Margaret Diggs

Capital District Community Gardens

40 River St. , Troy

Gene Solan

Pine Hills

126 So. Allen St

Harold Rubin

Center Square

156 Chestnut St

Matthew Montesano

Albany Police

Anne Brewster

Washington Park NA


Stephen Winters


22 Second Ave

Rebecca Brownell


Karen Cunniff


Mary Connair


68 Summit Ave

Bill Cleveland

West End

9 Essex Street

Howard Stoller


Tom Gebhardt

University at Albany


Dennis Mosley


550 Myrtle Ave

Patricia Maxon


34 Victor St

Donald Wardle

United Tenants

125 Dove St

Holly Katz