Visit downtown Schenectady, and the changes of the past year are easy to spot.
Proctors, once a hub of activity, has been closed since March. City Hall is open by appointment only.
Mexican Radio, one of the city’s more prominent restaurants, announced a temporary closure earlier this month, while other businesses, such as The Dilly Bean and Square One Cafe on Jay Street, have retooled during the pandemic.
It’s an urban environment that’s very much in flux, with one glaring exception: the hideous monstrosity that sits at the corner of State Street and Erie Boulevard.
Over a year has passed since The Daily Gazette first reported on the deterioration of the Wedgeway Building, prompting the city of Schenectady to cite the property for numerous code violations and erect a fence around part of it to protect the public from falling bricks.
Every time I drive through downtown, I’m struck by how little the building has changed, even as the city’s code enforcement bureau has attempted to hold Wedgeway owner William Eichengrun accountable.
In a year of disruption, the Wedgeway remains an ugly thorn in the city’s side, a high-profile example of how difficult it can be to get negligent owners to take responsibility for their properties.
Tickets and fines are supposed to spur action, but what if they don’t?
What if the property owner essentially thumbs his nose at local authorities?
We’re about to find out.
The city is taking Eichengrun to trial next week, a long overdue and welcome move.
We’ve waited a year for Eichengrun to resolve his code violations in a satisfactory manner, but it hasn’t happened, and a new approach is needed.
Going to trial shows that the city is serious about addressing the problems at the Wedgeway, and sends a powerful message to other irresponsible property owners. It’s an aggressive action, but also a necessary one.
All Eichengrun has to do to make things right with the city is demonstrate that the Wedgeway’s code violations have been resolved.
He claimed in an earlier court appearance that he addressed the violations, but never scheduled an inspection to confirm that the fixes had been made, prompting the city to take him to trial.
What happens at trial is anyone’s guess.
But I’m glad it’s happening.
Reach Sara Foss at [email protected]. Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s.