Schenectady

HERE FOR GOOD: A new community settles in — Gazette readers’ views from 2002

An early Gazette story from Dec. 9, 2001, on Guyanese settling in Schenectady
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An early Gazette story from Dec. 9, 2001, on Guyanese settling in Schenectady

SCHENECTADY  — The Guyanese influx to Schenectady was a frequent topic in the News pages of the Daily Gazette in 2002.

But as one of the biggest changes to the city in recent memory, it drew an outpouring of emotion on the Opinion pages, as well.

Letters to the editor ran heavily in support of the city’s newest residents. However, that was the era before social media made it easy to spew criticism and hate anonymously. Some unhappy people likely held their tongues.

Here are some excerpts of letters published in 2002:

I was surprised that Schenectady Mayor Albert Jurczynski recently hosted a job fair for 100 Guyanese people from New York City. I welcome my new brethren to Schenectady. However, I was appalled that the mayor would host a job fair to encourage a group of people to relocate and not extend an invitation to residents of Schenectady who are often under- or unemployed. — Georgetta Dix, February

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They did not come to this country to live on the dole. — Vito Spinelli, August

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Your Aug. 19 editorial, “Be grateful for Guyanese,” expresses my feelings exactly. — Mildred McCarthy, August

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I would like to know if any city employees are benefiting from these numerous real estate transactions. Further, and most importantly, I would like to evaluate the impact on the low-income housing market. Are low-income individuals being displaced as a result of this strategy? Will the effort drive up the cost of low-income housing? — Douglas Williams, August

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As a county legislator representing the city, I have had the opportunity to meet many of the Guyanese who currently live in our community and many visiting and contemplating Schenectady as their new home. They have come to our community for many of the same reasons that my immigrant grandparents sought when they migrated to upstate New York; a chance to work hard and succeed, affordable housing, good schools and a welcoming community in which to raise a family. — Robert Serotta, August

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They want to help fix up the homes and make Schenectady a better place to live — oh, please. What’s wrong with where they live now? Is it not good enough for them? Well, why would that be? … Stop displacing lifelong residents for strangers. — Tammie Goodspeed, September

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I have watched the city of Schenectady die a slow death for some 20 years. Where has Tammie Goodspeed been? All city residents are given opportunity to buy foreclosed homes, with numerous programs to help them come up with the necessary purchase and repair money. — Ella Snook, September

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Ms. Goodspeed, I wonder where your ancestors came from. How would you react to being told to go back from where you came? America is, and hopefully always will be, a great melting pot. The Guyanese are buying homes that no one else would. That adds to the tax base, which adds to more dollars being spent in all areas of the economy. — Maureen Smith, September

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Don’t bash the Guyanese or anyone else not native to this city for taking advantage of the opportunities that you’ve ignored. Some people act on their dreams of improving the lives of their families. Others write bitter letters to the editor. At the end of the day, guess who have more to show for their efforts. — Christopher Comly, September

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Yes, you are right. We don’t need Guyanese who care how they live, we don’t need them to beautify our city. By moving in, they will make us look bad and lazy. Let the lifelong residents keep ruining Hamilton Hill. — Cezary Drzymalski, September

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The Guyanese are so far ahead of us that we should thank God. I have not yet met a Guyanese family in Schenectady whose children were not polite, whose house was not spotless, whose demeanor was not one of hope and confidence. How dare the letter writers gripe? They had the “chance” to be born here and succeed. And they blew it. — Chuck Benson, September

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Some people close to the Property Disposition Committee decided to accuse me of being “nativist” — and opposed to Guyanese people purchasing city-owned property through the property disposition process. Not true! My intention is to ensure that all people have equal opportunity and are treated fairly as they wade through the city bureaucracy. — Ed Kosiur, September

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Her old house on Emmett Street recently was purchased by a Guyanese family and it is unbelievable what improvements have been made. They took a house that was ready for the wrecking ball and made it into a place that anyone could be proud of. — Richard Pagliara, September

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I send very best wishes to the Guyanese. We need you. We are glad you are settling here. — Beverly Wait, October

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Unsafe financial practices, huge tax increases, ignoring legal procedures, flashy downtown projects, luring the Guyanese to our city while trodding on the desires of longtime city residents all point to a city administration out of control. — Peggy Van Deloo, December

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The greatest thing Mayor Jurczynski has done to revitalize Schenectady has been his active encouragement of the immigration of Guyanese-Americans from New York City to Schenectady. — Kathleen Lisson, November

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Categories: News, Schenectady County

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