AMSTERDAM — Fights and other troubling issues are breaking out in the dark parking lot of a vacant bank building on Church Street, according to a neighboring Amsterdam resident.
“It can be twice a week. It could be three times a month,” Kristi Pucci told city officials at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting. “There’s fights, there is men harassing women. Last week it was a man getting beat up with a bat.”
There were no issues in the parking lot behind the former First Niagara Bank building at 161 Church St. when it was well lit in the past, according to Pucci.
“Once [the lights] went off, the crime started,” she said.
The problems of people fighting in the parking lot began within the past couple of months and escalated to the recent incident involving someone wielding a baseball bat, according to Pucci.
“I just can’t watch people get hurt and I don’t want to get hurt,” Pucci said. “It’s pretty scary to just be sitting at your couch and then see somebody take a baseball bat out of their back seat and just start pummeling somebody.”
Pucci said she has called police about the incidents, but the dark area obscures details needed to provide useful descriptions.
“The cops are usually quick to get there, but unfortunately the people are usually gone,” she said.
Lt. Joseph Spencer, public information officer for the Amsterdam force, confirmed on Thursday that police were called about a fight at the property involving around six men and women and at least one armed with a baseball bat around 9:15 p.m. on Nov. 5.
The group dispersed when officers arrived; interviews with neighbors and passersby were unable to produce information about the alleged incident, Spencer said.
“There has been no one that has come forward to say they were victimized by a baseball bat or otherwise,” he added.
“We have no other reports of any type of loitering or disorderly conduct that’s happening there,” Spencer said. “There very well could have been [issues there], but if they are unreported to the police then we are not aware of it.”
Indicating she previously called 911 regarding incidents, Pucci requested a direct phone number to reach city police, citing delayed transfers to the station. Police Chief John Thomas was present at the meeting and handed her a business card during a quiet exchange between the two later on.
Patrols around the area will be “tailored” toward addressing the issues now that police have been made aware there is a “persistent problem,” according to Spencer.
Thomas and city officials are reportedly working to reach the property owner regarding Pucci’s suggestion that lights simply be turned on in the dark areas of the parking lot as a deterrent.
“It would make a big difference,” Pucci said. “There is one that points towards Mobil that the bank still has on at night … They have the electricity.”
The bank sold the building to B & T Real State Investors, LLC for $95,000 in 2018, according to property records filed in the Montgomery County Clerk’s Office. It changed hands again when it was sold to Nova Realty Trading for $146,000 in March.
The deed for the former bank lists Nova Realty’s address as 36 West St. in Gloversville, but Fulton County records show that property was sold to Sugar Daddy Lifestyle Inc. for $15,000 in February. Nova Realty holds multiple properties in Fulton County listing the owner’s address only as a Gloversville P.O. box.
Interior work and upgrades to the sidewalks were performed at the former bank last year prior to the property sale.
There has been no apparent activity at the still-vacant property recently. Officials are unaware of plans for the site and no building permits have been sought since ownership changed hands, according to Grant Egelston, code enforcement officer for Amsterdam.
While the city tries to get outdoor lights turned back on at the property, Spencer encouraged neighborhood residents to call police about any issues at the site or elsewhere so that police can track and address areas of persistent problems.
“Officers on their assignments to patrol are always vigilant, checking areas where people are known to congregate. It’s important for people to call to say what they’re seeing,” Spencer said. “To protect your property, whether it be a business or residence, being well lit or having a surveillance system can be a good idea and can lead to the deterrent of any criminal activity.”
Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.