Chilly chore promises spring in Amsterdam

As May arrives next year, drivers along the Guy Park Avenue and Route 30 convergence in the city sho

As May arrives next year, drivers along the Guy Park Avenue and Route 30 convergence in the city should notice an extra pop of color.

Bright yellow daffodils and purple tulips will be in bloom, a full season after Mayor Ann Thane and a group of interested residents took Saturday morning to plant 2,500 bulbs in the cold ground of Kirk Douglas Memorial Park.

The flowers are not only the city’s colors, but also part of its Dutch heritage. The gardening event was one of several revitalization and beautification efforts i in recent years.

“Certainly, we need millions of dollars to do demolitions of dilapidated properties,” said Thane, as she shoveled away piles of hard dirt to make way for bulbs. “But these very small efforts are just so significant and they have a huge impact and they cost next to nothing. So why wouldn’t you try to beautify or clean up the area?”

The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame donated about 1,000 bulbs for Saturday’s planting, and the rest were bought by the city, Thane said. Several volunteers who showed up at 9 a.m. included those from Amsterdam’s Neighborhood Watch.

Thane said many of them had participated in neighborhood association events that were focused on making the city look better. In one such event, more than nine tons of litter was removed from city streets, something Thane called “unimaginable.” Other cleanups included graffiti paint-outs and an “East End attack” last year, said Thane. “We cleaned up East Main Street, cut down hedges, picked up garbage and chopped down vegetation.”

Small steps

Amsterdam resident John Cuddy, who works for the city Recreation Department, helped others shovel lines of holes along the park .

“I think we’re making small steps,” Cuddy said. “It’s an uphill battle for sure, because of blight. A lot of these old industrial towns are in tough shape. But I think you got a lot of people who still care, and come out on a nice day to try and give a hand.”

Thane said she chose the Kirk Douglas Memorial Park convergence to plant the bulbs because of its high traffic and visibility.

Current candidate for City Council Thom Georgia has worked with Thane on many community projects. He said that planting flowers and painting murals in the city are nice things to do, but they’re part of a larger effort.

“It represents a whole lot more,” he said. “It’s about being a leader and inspiring people to come out and work together for a positive outcome. And that’s why I came out and that’s why many of the people in our neighborhood are here as well.”

Although Amsterdam has a long history of struggle, including crime, blight and decaying homes, he said any effort to make the city more appealing is worth it.

“I think in the last few years we’ve really started to chip away at that huge elephant in the room,” Georgia said. “And little things like beautification bring big beginnings. Every little effort that you can make is a good thing.”

Thane, a Democrat and the city’s first female mayor, is completing her first four-year term and seeking another. Republican Joseph Emanuele III, who was not at the event, is challenging her. He served as mayor from 2004 to 2007, but did not seek re-election in 2007.

Categories: Schenectady County

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