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Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations

Meeting Minutes of May 1, 2002

Albany Public Library

(a)   Howard Stoller , CANA Chair, called the meeting to order.

 (b)   Introductions  

(c)   Minutes - Minutes of the April meeting are corrected to add Kathleen Kearney to the list of attendees.

(c)Christopher Burke submitted one correction to the discussion about Lark Street Reconstruction.  Minutes should reflect the fact that he and the president of the Lark Street   BID as well as other representatives were present at the meeting with Mayor Jennings. 

 Discussion – Lonnie Palmer, Albany School District Budget

Lonnie Palmer, Superintendent of the City School District of Albany, presented information about the proposed, 2002-2003 Albany City

School District budget.  The presentation included the following information.

Albany has proposed tax rate increase that is lower than the average statewide increase;

The impact of the increase upon Albany ’s homeowners;

The factors that impact the budget;

State aid;

Debt service;

Phasing out of homestead;

Budget reductions;

Budget additions;

Grant funding;

Per pupil costs,

The impact of an austerity budget; 

Information regarding the vote propositions, voter requirements and the upcoming community budget presentations.

 

Superintendent Palmer addressed the following member concerns.

 

Staff reductions-

Charter school enrollment can cause public school staff cuts.

Teaching positions are being eliminated by retirements and consolidations

There will be fewer than 10 staff layoffs

Three administrative positions are included and will save the district $318,000

 

Staff additions –

Tutors for students with serious discipline (TOPS) will be added

A home-school coordinator and assistant will be added

 

Fund balance –

After reductions, the fund balance will be $2.7 million which New York State considers acceptable

The district anticipates only a small increase in the cost of fuel oil; there is a $2.6 million reserve of savings from last year

 

Grants –

Grant funds must go to a dedicated purpose. 

Some have administrative costs built in.  Others have such high costs as to minimize the benefits to the district and, therefore, are eliminated by the school board.

 

Facilities bond -

There are no costs for facilities bond in this year’s budget because they are not yet due.

 

Land Exchange –

 There was discussion about the district’s ownership and use of the land that immediately surrounds the Sunshine School .  The members of the Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association expressed concern about the kind of students presently attending that facility and how related incidents have affected students from nearby schools.

 

            Carnavale Site –

When the facilities plan passed, the Gibbons School was to be leased; it has since become apparent that it is more advantageous for the District to purchase the Carnavale site to house 205 students rather than to lease the Gibbons facility. 

 

Building demolitions –

The District intends to keep as many buildings as possible; however, Our Lady of Angels and School 18 cannot be reasonably preserved or renovated.  They will be demolished and new buildings erected.

 

Library Re-chartering –

If the voters approve the Library re-chartering, the District will collect the taxes to operate the library and distribute the funds to the Library.

 

Disseminating Information to the public about the budget –

The delay in passing the New York State budget causes a delay in the District’s drawing up and disseminating its school budget.  However, information is now available in schools, newspapers, and newsletters have been mailed to City residents.             

     

 

(d)   Communications and Announcements

(d)

CANA will host a forum for the community to become familiar with the individuals running for positions as Albany Public Library trustees.  Fourteen candidates were invited to participate; to date, 11 have accepted.  The forum will be held at the main branch of the library on May 6 from 7 to 9 PM .  Each will speak for 8 minutes and discuss their reasons for running for the position, their qualifications, and their short and long term plans for the library.

 

West Hill Ministerial Fellowship and the Arbor Hill Neighborhood Association will meet on May 5, 2002 , from 1 to 3 PM to present and discuss the SUNY and community partnership.

 

Those who have not paid their CANA dues were reminded to do so.  A financial report was included in the meeting agenda.

 

Elizabeth Griffin of the Historic Albany Foundation presented information on the Foundation’s initiatives to reduce the number of vacant buildings in the City.  The Foundation is working with the City and the Home Store to assist potential owner-occupants who want to purchase and quickly renovate buildings that are being auctioned.  Although the City and the Foundation want this program to begin soon, it will not be in place for the May 18 auction. For buildings in subsequent auctions, however, the Foundation will provide brochures on each building in order that potential owners are not bidding blindly with no information about the condition of buildings. CANA members are asked to identify vacant buildings and lots in their neighborhoods and refer any residents who may be interested in participating in the programs offered and contact Historic Albany Foundation at 465-0876 or at historicalbany@aol.com.  The Foundation is looking for volunteers to assist with this program this summer.  Those interested should contact  Elizabeth Griffin .

 

Mary Connair announced that the University Heights neighborhood boundaries for qualifying University Heights properties in the “Walk to Work” grant have been extended.  They now extend from Holland to Ten Eyck Avenues and the Delaware/Second Avenue corner to Morton Avenue .

 

Tom McPheeters reported that work and inspections at the Lincoln Park pool have been completed, and members are encouraged to recommend that residents of their neighborhoods use the facilities.  Concessions will be located in the renovated pool house. The City will provide additional staff at the facility this summer and conduct a count of the number of people who use the pool.  Although cumbersome, parties can be arranged through John D’Antonio or Nancy Anderson .  No information about the uptown pool was available.

 

Gene Solan provided information about the Neighborhood Resource Center 2002 annual members meeting on Tuesday, May 14, 2002 , from 6 to 8 PM in Room 224 of the Sage College Campus Center and provided announcements and information about the Center.  The certificate of recognition to be presented to the outstanding public official has been re-named the “Mayor Thomas J. Whalen Certificate of Recognition.”   Information about the Neighborhood Resource Center and a membership form was also provided.

 

On April 25, 2002 , approximately 50 residents of the area between New Scotland and Woodlawn Avenues and South Lake Avenue to Manning Boulevard met in anticipation of forming a new neighborhood association. 

 

A condolence card was sent to the family of the late Mayor Thomas J. Whalen on behalf of CANA .

 

Joe Stelatto will be the speaker at the June 5 CANA meeting and will discuss the sale of the State Office Campus.

 

Reverend Joyce Hartwell announced that the Artists All Faith Center is located at School 10 on North Pearl Street .  Members are invited to visit the Center.  Additional information will be provided at the next CANA meeting.

 

(e)   Committees

 

Committee on University and Community Relations – Tom Gebhardt

The next meeting will be on Wednesday, May 8 at the Albany Police Department at 526 Central Avenue at 7 PM .  The topic for discussion shall be “Spring 2002 Six-Point Plan.”

 

Community Police Council – Helen Black

Three new members have joined the Council:  Fred Perkins, Pine Hills Neighborhood Assoc; Steve Winters, Second Avenue Neighborhood Assoc; and someone from the Hudson Park Neighborhood Association.

 

Neighbors Building Neighborhoods – Helen Black

Sidney Cresswell of the State University will meet with and speak to members of CANA regarding the “bottoms up” government model discussed by Helen Desfosses at the February CANA meeting.

 

Quality of Life Committee – David Phaff

A report of the quality of life survey results is still in draft form.  Requests for grants and funding to pay for assistance in compiling the data have not been successful. 

Copies of the CANA Notice of Violation form that was developed at the Neighborhoods Work Conference were distributed and explained.  The Committee welcomes comments about the form.

 

Reapportionment Commission/Community Involvement – Marggie Skinner

Citizen participation in the redistricting plan remains minimal; in fact, CANA members may be the only attendees at the meetings.  (The public is permitted to speak during the first 15 minutes of the Commission meetings.)  The Committee will draft the proposed redistricting plan and distribute copies to CANA members. 

 

The meeting was adjourned at 8:50 PM .