Amsterdam blight panel changes urged

Alderman Joseph Isabel, R-1st Ward, wants to modify a committee charged with disposing of blighted p
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Categories: Schenectady County

Alderman Joseph Isabel, R-1st Ward, wants to modify a committee charged with disposing of blighted properties owned by the city and to tighten rules for purchasing those properties.

He said the changes would “weed out anyone that’s not going to perform for the city.”

Isabel wants to impose a $75 application fee on anyone wanting to buy property in the city, and limit the time a buyer has to complete proposed work or repairs.

Isabel said the building inspector would now go out with an applicant so work needed to bring the building up to code was clear. The buyer would then have six months to meet certain requirements and show that they are working to bring the building up to code or the city would be able to reacquire the property, Isabel said.

Isabel said he will introduce his proposals at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.

Isabel also wants to have an administrator who is the point person for the committee. He said the administrator would field inquiries and handle money and be able to show available properties to interested buyers.

Isabel said he envisions either assigning those extra duties to a secretary already at City Hall or hiring a retired person for a small part-time salary.

According to city Assessor Michael Chiara, who serves as chairman of the current property disposition committee, it is important for the city to convey these properties into private hands quickly.

“The city is not supposed to be in the landlord business,” he said. “Also, we don’t want these properties to sit around for too long because they really don’t help the neighborhoods.”

Chiara said he thinks Isabel’s plan is good and will work. He said currently the city owns “a slew” of properties that are not in the best shape and “need extensive dollars to get the buildings up to code.”

Chiara said the city really needs to keep better tabs on the people who have purchased property from the city. He said the city should ask for goals and timelines from applicants and have a clause in the contract that allows the city to take back properties if certain goals aren’t met. But, Chiara said it is hard to keep track of disposed properties because there are so many of them.

The Common Council is expected to act on the proposal during a session scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in the Common Council chambers at City Hall.

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