Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations
Meeting Minutes February 6, 2008
Albany Public Library
President Howard Stoller made brief remarks and everyone introduced themselves.
Mayor Jerry Jennings, State-of-the-City
Mayor Jennings stated that there are plenty of challenges facing the city of Albany right now, but we must stay positive if we want to accomplish anything.
He emphasized that there are financial issues. Some of these issues stem from the fact that 50% of the city is tax-exempt. There are dramatic differences in how state aid is divided up between cities in New York. Jennings pointed out that Schenectady is currently receiving more financial aid than Albany.
The mayor then went on to point out that the State Department of Transportation is penalizing the city by not maintaining roads in Albany even though they maintain the roads in the surrounding suburbs. The city of Albany is working with DOT to come up with a resolution.
The State must break down barriers to eliminate costs in the areas of crime, schools and taxes.
Mayor Jennings then introduced Chief Tuffey, describing him as “passionate.” but we don’t have all of the answers. The mayor then discussed a meeting he had with The Department of Criminal Justice Services, Buffalo Mayor Brown and Rochester Mayor Duffy.
The mayor went on to explain that urban education is not working and we have to change what we are currently doing. We have different needs, and “we know what the problems are – let us solve them.” He also stated that there is a parent problem in regards to truancy and that five parents have been arrested because of it.
Jennings pointed out that he is a proponent of Universal Pre-K. We need to take advantage of the schools and keep them open. 61% of our taxes go there, so we should be using them as much as possible.
The mayor then turned to the City of Albany’s vacant lot program. He stated that Governor Spitzer’s revitalization program would help. We must change the process for buying buildings and set timelines for doing something. Jennings than discussed his Block-by-Block program. A central database containing information about properties is being created, there should be a restriction on LLC’s owning properties and the property should have a local representative. There is a proposal currently in the Assembly.
The topic turned to the City’s Recapitalize Albany program. The program revolves around how the students of Albany can take advantage of what we have here (Nanotech). “What are we (Albany) going to realize from this?”
The discussion moved to the Harriman Campus. Mayor Jennings emphasized that there is too much talk when we need results. The goal is to create and compliment what is going on “out there.” The mayor then emphasized that whatever is done cannot be isolated and should generate taxes for the city.
The mayor discussed the landfill, pointing out that he doesn’t want to be in the trash business, but we are. Revenues from this have been used to balance the budget. A regional waste program must be looked at. There are tough decisions to make. The comprehensive recycling plan is good but it could be better. Water is less expensive than anywhere else in the state and we are looking at tying all of the regions water systems together.
The city’s infrastructure is old and fixing it will be expensive. Health care costs and utilities are the main reason for having to use its $9 million surplus. The mayor insisted that he did not want to use tax dollars for the convention center. He wants to bring SUNY Plaza back on the tax rolls.
He emphasized that the city is in a good position and “I appreciate your advice, but let’s be civil.”
Mayor Jennings then took questions.
Paul Fowler displayed his “wiki-tribute” to former DGS Commissioner Bill Bruce. The tribute can be found at: https://thankyoubillbruce.pbwiki.com/shared.php?aph=0e6447769161082a4fef8e54ff93a0efa64e4298
If there are any questions contact Paul at email@example.com
IV. Minutes approved.
Gene Solan discussed the NRC awards, and described the annual community service awards including the new Rental Property Owner Certificate of Recommendation.
Jim Lyons of the Melrose Neighborhood Association (MNA) requested CANA’s support for an issue in their neighborhood. A single family home purchased for retired nuns is looking to add 4,000 square foot to its property, resulting in two structures totaling 10-12 bedrooms/apartments. MNA opposes the proposal and would like CANA members to fight the application before the Board of Zoning Appeals. You can contact Jim for more information at 458-8039, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thomas Gebhardt noted that his next meeting was set for
February 13th, and that Megan Daly, Deputy Commissioner of the City
Officer Montesano explained a burglary in the Center Square
area. The police had unmarked cars
in the area and then followed up with handouts and discussed APD’s
neighborhood watch program.
VI. Other Issues.
Codes: Joyce met with West Hill residents and discussed problems with Albany’s code enforcement. He than contrasted it with how things are done at the Albany Housing Authority (blank sheets vs. tablet computers)
Lynne Jackson informed everyone of the Save the Pine Bush
30th anniversary dinner on February 20th at the First
Meeting adjourned at 8:51pm.
February 6, 2008 Meeting Attendees