Amsterdam decides not to apply for HGTV contest

Program offered to aid communities with building makeovers
Amsterdam Mayor Michael Cinquanti is pictured at City Hall in January.
Amsterdam Mayor Michael Cinquanti is pictured at City Hall in January.

Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News

AMSTERDAM — The city of Amsterdam did not submit an entry into the HGTV “Home Town Takeover” competition Friday, after having a company produce a video for the contest. 

Mayor Michael Cinquanti said he was originally in favor of the idea of entering into the national contest, but then changed his mind. 

“It was a decision that I made based on a couple of factors,” Cinquanti said. “I just wasn’t comfortable with the concept of presenting Amsterdam as a needy city, and I didn’t know if that’s what we had to do to win.” 

Cinquanti said he tasked Amsterdam Community and Economic Development Director Amanda Bearcroft and Andrew Iannotti, owner of video producing company Port Jackson Productions, with coming up with a positive vision for the video submission. 

“Amanda and Andy Iannotti came up with a fantastic story line that sort of changed that, and I loved the story line, but I’ve decided to hold off on submitting it and use it for other purposes,” Cinquanti said. “It’s a fantastic film. It’s not ready to be used yet.” 

Deputy Mayor James Martuscello said the video cost $999 to produce.

Friday was the deadline for submission to the contest, the winner of which would be featured on the Home Town Takeover show hosted by Ben and Erin Napier. The contest was looking for a community with less than 40,000 residents that has “great architecture longing to be revealed,” and a Main Street that “needs a facelift.” 

Gloversville also applied for the contest and encouraged its residents to send in entries of videos and still pictures of buildings they’d like to see renovated.

Cinquanti said one of his concerns was loss of control over the video once it was in the possession of  HGTV. 

“Once we submit it, it’s out of our control,” he said. “I spoke with a few business leaders who gave me some great inputs of different ways to go in terms of what we’re trying to do in the city. Hopefully, in a few weeks we’ll announce some exciting progress we’re making on our neighborhood renovation program.” 

Iannotti, who also works for the city as a firefighter, said the video he submitted to the city is approximately nine minutes long. He said the city owns it and can do whatever it wants with the video.

“We wanted to tell the comeback story of the city, so we wanted to give a brief history of the rise and the decline of the city of Amsterdam … and how everybody is working to bring it back to its heyday, back to what it was,” he said. 

Iannotti said he’s done video marketing projects for operations like St. Mary’s Hospital and he’s currently making a video for the Research Foundation of SUNY. 

He said his video for Amsterdam was different from the work he typically does in that it included no studio lighting, one main camera and a wireless microphone, and aerial drone footage.

Iannotti would not divulge how much the video cost. 

Cinquanti said he doesn’t know the exact figure of the price of the video because he hasn’t seen the bill yet, but he believes the city received a bargain for the quality of the work. 

“[Iannotti] gave us a hell of a deal. It was very, very inexpensive for what we got in return,” Cinquanti said. 

Martuscello, who represents the 5th Ward, said as budget director he knows the video cost $999, which is less than the $1,000 threshold above which the city would be required to solicit bids for the work. He said the money was paid from the city’s contingency fund. Martuscello said he supported hiring Port Jackson Productions because Cinquanti had told him how excited he was about the idea of the contest.

“He asked me what I thought and I said this is something new and something different, and we’re on a track now where we’re doing things that are new and different, so we should try it,” Martuscello said. “It was a gamble, for [almost] $1,000, but so was submitting for the $10 million [Downtown Revitalization Initiative], and that paid off.” 

Martuscello said he supports what ever decision Cinquanti makes regarding the fate of the video. 

“This whole situation was pressed for time because the due date was right up on us,” he said. “This is something we can maybe use down the line.” 

Fourth Ward Alderman Stephen Gomula said he had supported the idea of submitting the video when Cinquanti asked his opinion, but he wasn’t consulted on the city’s decision to not submit for the contest. But he said he understands Cinquanti’s concerns about losing control of the content. 

“I guess I agree with that, to a certain point, but we can use it for the future,” he said.

Cinquanti said the video isn’t ready to be used yet, but he plans to use it for other purposes, and he will alert the news media when it’s ready to be seen. 

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