Camille Sasinowski doesn’t need numbers to realize her neighborhood is improving.
The president of the Goose Hill Neighborhood Association hears it from the buzz among residents. And she sees it in the “for sale” signs disappearing from homes that were on the market.
“I’ve seen a lot of new walkers in the neighborhood,” she said. “That’s an indication to me that something good is going on.”
Even so, her feeling is reflected in the robust market the city has seen lately. Schenectady has witnessed no less than 75 homes “in written business” —a real estate term for under contract —since the industry’s so-called busy season began in March.
Mary D’Elessandro, an associate broker with Prudential Manor Homes, credited an initiative by city and school district officials with helping to turn the tide of Schenectady’s real estate market. She said having them on hand along with neighborhood leaders is helping to dispel some of the negative stigmas the city has among home buyers in the Capital Region and beyond.
“It’s making it better,” she said during the launch of the city’s Open House weekend on Sunday.
Leaders note progress
City and neighborhood leaders gathered at The Daily Gazette’s offices on Maxon Road Extension to tout the progress being made in promoting the city. Mayor Gary McCarthy said highlighting the good elements of Schenectady is a crucial role of the ongoing Key to the City program.
“We’re trying to draw attention to the housing opportunities in here in Schenectady,” he said.
Part of that chore lies with countering the city’s dubious and sometimes unwarranted reputation. For instance, prospective home buyers with children sometimes shy away from the city because they believe the school district to be troubled, unsafe or inferior to others in the region.
That couldn’t be farther from the truth, said Laurence Spring, the Schenectady City School District’s superintendent. He said the city’s schools are just as safe as any in the area and the education it provides is second to none.
Spring said the district, like any with a large number of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, does have its share of issues. But with the second largest number of nationally certified teachers on staff and a curriculum that includes an international baccalaureate program, he said the education provided at city schools is on par or better than many districts across the state.
“There are certainly phenomenal opportunities for kids,” he said.
Another crucial step is to convince prospective residents that the taxes they pay aren’t out of step with the services they receive, said Robert Harvey, the president of Schenectady United Neighborhoods. Harvey said the message of high taxes he sometimes hears is not in line with the reality for city property owners.
“Despite the message, it’s less than a lot of communities,” he said. “I’m happy about what I pay in taxes and what I get.”
Harvey said it’s important for the people living in the city to boast the positive elements of their community so future home buyers hear about the good parts of Schenectady too. He said the more people who move to the city, the healthier its outlook becomes.
“We want people to live in the city,” said Harvey, who is also vice president of the Eastern Avenue Neighborhood Association. “It’s a good place to live.”