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Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations

Meeting Minutes  September 4, 2002

Albany Public Library

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


2.      Introductions


3.      Minutes - Minutes of the June 5, 2002 , meeting were accepted


4.      Guest Speaker:  Jordan Wishy of the SUNYA Intergovernmental Solutions Program addressed the council regarding the “Neighbors Building Neighborhoods” program.


            In 1993 the City of Rochester selected a novel approach to win back the confidence of its citizens and update the city’s comprehensive plan.  This neighborhood planning process is called Neighbors Building Neighborhoods (NBN) or “bottoms up” government.  It was initiated in order to improve race relations; lower the crime rate; address the declining population and tax base of the city; and resolve the issue of abandoned housing and general urban decay.


            In order to implement NBN, the city and its citizens needed to change the way they did business; both needed to hold the other accountable.  Communication between the citizens and city planners and government agencies was imperative.  To facilitate that communication, the City of Rochester hired process trainers to instruct neighborhood representatives and city planners, and they were trained to facilitate productive communication.  City staff was trained in quality management and customer service.  City departments then restructured themselves to create a management arrangement that both their needs and the needs of residents.



Thirty-seven neighborhood associations assisted with the design of  ten city sectors being defined by the Department of Community Development.    Each sector included one or more neighborhood association, businesses, churches, etc.  The city provided a one facilitator to assist in organizing each sector group, one city planner to represent the municipality, and $5,000 per year for administrative costs. Residents who may not have otherwise done so, became involved in their neighborhood association and/or sector committee.  The leadership in some NA’s changed during the course of the NBN process.


Each sector was charged with developing and articulating its own action plan or planning document to be included in the city’s comprehensive plan.  They developed their own leadership structures, presented their process, and worked with governmental agencies and community partners to implement its plan.  To develop an asset-based plan rather then a problem-based process, the sectors identified existing neighborhood assets in developing its plan and participated with organizations  (community partners) existing in the sector to carry out the work of the plan.   Each focused on (1) goals, (2) strategies and (3) actions.  The Mayor and community development staff periodically attended meetings of each sector group.


When each sector completed its plan and presented it to the city, initiatives were prioritized and work began to determine the feasibility of implementation by the city, neighborhood associations, and partners.    During the first phase of the NBN process, approximately 1,400 initiatives were identified, and it is believed that about 75 percent of those were implemented.   By most accounts, the NBN-fostered communication has re-established trust between the residents of the City of Rochester and its government.


The speaker addressed the following questions from CANA members.


1.      The NBN is phasing in as the permanent and ongoing process of governing in the City of Rochester .

2.      Politics did, in fact, become an issue primarily with the not-for-profit organizations who were concerned that their power may be undercut.  Eventually they all came on board.

3.      Compromises were necessary between the city and its residents.

4.      Citywide issues as well as neighborhood issues became part of the city plan.

5.      Businessman William Johnson who was elected mayor of Rochester in 1992 developed the NBN concept.  Subsequent to his election he  fired all existing department heads.  New department heads were rehired based upon their qualifications, experience, education, and background.  Former employees had to re-apply for their jobs.  Some were re-hired; others were replaced.

6.      Both the city council and the citizens of Rochester accepted the NBN concept.

7.      Work of the initiatives is implemented and carried out by all partners—neighborhood associations, community groups, neighborhood associations, non-profits, etc.

8.      Gatherings were held to celebrate the success of each sector’s development of its plan.

9.      The $5,000 provided to each sector came from CDBG funds and also provided moral support to the groups.

10. Newark , Syracuse and other cities have implemented this plan.

11. The Neighbors Building Neighborhoods Institute has been established for cities that wish to train its leaders and residents in this process and implementation.

12.  Mayor Johnson and the NBN (or “bottoms up”) planning process have attracted the attention of the national media.

13.  Information about the NBN concept and history is available on the City of Rochester ’s website.


CANA members agreed to promote the Neighborhoods Building Neighborhoods concept at the Neighborhoods Works Conference being held on November 23, 2002 .



5.      Communications and Announcements


a.      Aaron Mair has asked Howard Stoller to participate in a radio talk show.  It was decided that he will participate and discuss CANA ’ direction for the year and endorse the NBN concept.


b.      The question of whether neighborhood associations need general liability insurance was raised based upon the fact that CANA has received notice that its policy is not being renewed.  It was suggested that the Council of Community Services be contacted.  The chairman will also speak with the present carrier to get more information about the reason that the current policy is not being renewed.


c.      The membership was informed of a two-night, September 11 teach-in.  Adequate sponsorship of the event has been secured.


d.      A resolution stating CANA ’s support for a $10,000 salary for the individual who provides teaching services and runs workshops for CDGB was requested.  The resolution was adopted, and a letter indicating CANA ’s support will be provided to Claire Yates no later than September 12, 2002 .


e.      The Historic Albany Foundation will hold its annual meeting and awards presentation on September 19, 2002 , at 6 PM .  A $10 donation is suggested. Additional information about the event is available by calling the Foundation at 465-0876.


f.        As of August 20 there is $1,469 in the CANA checking account at Charter One Bank.


6.      Committee Reports


University and Community Relations – Tom Gebhardt

The next meeting will be at 7 PM on September 18, 2002 at the Albany Police Department at 526 Central Avenue .  Joseph Coffey will speak about “Update on University Heights – Future Plans”, and there will be an update on the fall, 2002 13-point plan.  The question of litter in the Madison Avenue/Ontario Street was raised.  The Keep Albany Beautiful Committee will become involved and focus on that neighborhood.  Students on the downtown campus are being encouraged to keep outside lights on, minimizing the possibility of attack and robbery. 


Community Police Council 

The Committee has not yet held its first meeting; therefore, there was no report.


Reapportionment Commission & Community Involvement – Marggie Skinner

Two plans have been produced.  Maps are available.  The plans have gone to the City Council but neither has yet been introduced.  CANA will receive information about the public hearing shortly.


7.      New Business


a.      Four candidates are likely to run for the two available seats on the school board.  It was suggested that CANA hold a candidate forum; Craig Waltz will arrange the time and date with the library staff and contact the candidates.


b.      The chairman is attempting to schedule Chris Hurley, the City budget director to speak at the October CANA meeting.  The CANA budget committee needs to be revived.  Helen Desfosses is being approached to speak at the November meeting about the Common Council view of the City budget.


c.      Members interested in participating in the Neighborhood Works 3 planning committee should contact Gene Solan at 964-6208.  It will require attendance at four or five meetings.


d.      Craig Waltz announced the possibility of an education summit.  He will present information at a future meeting.


e.      Colin McKnight asked that representatives from other neighborhood associations who are experiencing problems or have issues with Niagara Mohawk contact him to coordinate and present their problems as a larger and united group and, therefore, yield a more positive result.


f.        Georgette Steffins reviewed the programs of the Albany Home Store and distributed written information.


g.      Appreciation was expressed to those associations and members who encouraged and participated in the efforts to revitalize the pool at Lincoln Park .  2002 was an extraordinary season for both the park and the pool.


The meeting adjourned at 8:35 PM .









Howard Stoller


Daniel W. Van Riper

Lincoln Park NA

Joyce White


209 Second Avenue

Colin McKnight


45 Elm St , 12202

Pat Maxon

Upper Washington Ave NA

34 Victor St .,

Mary Connari

Delaware Avenue NA

68 Summit Ave. , 12209

Gene Solan

Pine Hills

126 So Allen St. , 12208

Donald Wardle

United Tenants

125 Dove St. 12202

Harold Rubin

Center Square NA

156 Chestnut St

Henry M. Madej

Pine Hills NA

Stephen Winters


227 Second Ave

Thomas Gebhardt

University at Albany

Holy Katz


1 ½ Elm St. 12202

Clare Yates

Center Square


Marggie Skinner

Pine Hills

Comm. Jack Nielsen

City of Albany Public Safety


Jeff Cannell

Albany Public Library

101 Washington Ave

G. Mowbray


400 Hamilton Street

Colleen Ryan


335 Madison Ave.

David Phaff


5 North Pine Ave.

Heather Barrett

Albany Housing

4 Lincoln Square

Julie Elson

New Scotland /Woodlawn

50 West Lawrence St .

Elfreida Textores

South End

70 Third Ave.

Tom McPheeters


14 Wilbur St .

Jordan Gobrecht

Center Square

161 Jay St .

Helen Desfosses

Albany Common Council


PO Kathleen Rissberger


536 Western Ave.

Mary Ellen O’Connor


Betsey Schearer


Andres Harvey


Marty Gawoski

Hest Hill


Regina Drew

No. Albany Shaker Park

Rev. Joyce Hartwell

North Albany Arts & Business