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Schenectady council opposes halfway house for felons

Schenectady council opposes halfway house for felons

The City Council is taking a stand against a proposed federal halfway house even though the council

The City Council is taking a stand against a proposed federal halfway house even though the council has no authority over the issue.

The council agreed Monday to craft a resolution opposing Firetree, which wants to run a halfway house on State Street in the Hamilton Hill-Vale neighborhood. The halfway house would be used by prisoners from the Capital Region who are nearing the end of their sentence.

Councilwoman Denise Brucker said nonprofits are a “drain on city services” because they don’t pay taxes.

Councilman Joseph Allen added that a halfway house would “add to the negativity” of the neighborhood, where drug dealers sell openly on some street corners and a child walking to the park was recently shot in the head by attackers who were allegedly aiming at his older brother.

The council plans to vote on the resolution next Monday.

In August, the council may go further.

Councilwoman Barbara Blanchard proposed a moratorium on any residential treatment facility in the city, arguing that it could stop Firetree from opening the halfway house here.

“It seems to me that would be more effective,” she said.

But Council President Gary McCarthy cautioned that a moratorium can’t be aimed at stopping one project.

“It’s just coincidence that this project is on here and stimulated this discussion,” he said.

He added that the city may not have any reason to put a moratorium on treatment facilities because of its recent work to rezone the entire city.

After several years of work, the council approved the new comprehensive plan in late 2008.

“That should have resolved any zoning issues,” McCarthy said. “Imposing a moratorium is a little bit harder now.”

Acting Corporation Counsel Al Goldberger was directed to look into ways in which a moratorium could be legally enacted. Goldberger is standing in for Corp. Counsel L. John Van Norden, who is still recuperating from symptoms of a heart attack.

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