Chamber again backs Gloversville YMCA homeless shelter plan

After coming under some criticism for supporting the YMCA’s proposed downtown homeless housing proje

After coming under some criticism for supporting the YMCA’s proposed downtown homeless housing project, the Chamber of Commerce board emerged from a two-hour meeting Thursday and reaffirmed its support, but urged that the official review be fair and based on facts.

The board issued a prepared statement to that effect after listening to a presentation by YMCA CEO Steven Serge.

Project opponent and South Main Street developer Susan Casey said Thursday afternoon she was still waiting for more details about the board’s decision.

Casey, who contends the doubling of the YMCA’s homeless housing complex from 23 to 46 beds will deter revitalization efforts in the business district, said she was hoping the board would vote Thursday to rescind its prior position. She said she is also disappointed the board did not let her speak Thursday.

Chamber President Wally Hart said while the board did not rescind its previous vote, it did take the position that city agencies and residents should consider the project based on the facts and not on emotion. He spoke of Thursday’s action as a clarification of the board’s position on the project.

Noting that the chamber does not have a role in reviewing the project, Hart said, “We support the Y and they’ve got a project on their plate.” The chamber, he said, urges all those involved in the review to perform that task “with an open mind and base the decision on the facts.”

Serge did not return a reporter’s telephone calls for comment Wednesday or Thursday.

Prior to Thursday’s meeting, Mayor Dayton King forwarded a letter in support of the project to Serge and the board and later disclosed its message.

Wishing Serge “good luck,” King said, “I am confident that business owners and members of our community will support the mission of the YMCA and this project.”

King reiterated his support for the $3.5 million proposal, which will be financed with a state grant.

“There will be no other use for this money if the YMCA doesn’t use the grant as specified and the building will not be used for anything else if the YMCA doesn’t expand,” King said.

Countering the views of project opponents, King said, “I do not believe expanding housing at the YMCA will lead to increased crime or decreased business activity in the immediate area surrounding this building.”

King said he surmises that current recession has led some downtown merchants to blame YMCA residents for business conditions.

In its formal statement, the chamber said it “encourages all agencies/parties involved in the process of vetting the YMCA’s quest be fair and equitable in their dealings and use due diligence in their decision making processes.”

Planners have sought more information and Y officials have until today to file it in preparation for the April 6 meeting.

Categories: Schenectady County

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