Galesi can build own apartments without subsidy from the city
Re June 11 article, “$3M loan sought for Schenectady buildings”: There should be a deafening roar of outrage over the city borrowing $3 million. The city is borrowing against money it isn’t guaranteed to get. HUD [Housing and Urban Development] can turn off the faucet of funding at any time and this would leave the city — the city being the property owners and taxpayers — responsible for repaying this loan.
Second, there are multiple projects that the money is being borrowed for and the projects should be considered separately, not as a single, all-or-nothing package as is now the case. The city administration is saying to the council if you want the money for demolition, then you have to go along with borrowing $1.3 million to fund a private developer’s project, the old DSS [Department of Social Services] building on Nott Street. They are separate issues and should be considered and voted on separately.
Almost half of the $3 million — $1.3 million — is being given to assist a well-established and successful private developer, Galesi [Group]. The developer has to invest only half of the total cost of his project, while the city taxpayers pay the other half over the next 20 years! What a deal. This money isn’t a grant, the city has to pay it back. The city property owners and taxpayers should not be blank checks for private developers.
The justification by the city and the developer for this project is flawed. The city states “[the project] will restore a blighted building.” Of course $1.3 million could restore a lot of blighted buildings in the city. The cost, $202,000 per apartment, is outrageous. What does the rent have to be in order to recoup this money? Oh, wait. The city taxpayers are funding the project.
Then they try and justify the project by saying it will help jump-start a new “Walk to Work Initiative” for the neighborhood. There are only 14 residential units. How many people living there are going to be employed at any of the three big employers, Ellis Hospital, Price Chopper and Union College?
According to the article, the spokesperson for the developer said that the project would help the area that has “deteriorated housing stock.” Has anyone traveled down Seward Place, College Park or Union Street recently? Does this look like deteriorated housing stock? Some of our neighborhoods could wish for such deteriorated housing.
Perhaps instead of lining yet another private developer’s pockets with $1.3 million, the city could borrow only what it needs to demolish the buildings. Better yet, the city could not borrow any money. What a novel idea. The city can’t — no, the taxpayers can’t — afford to borrow any more money. Eventually there is a payday.
I urge the council to first be brave and ask for the separation of the projects in this loan application. I urge the council not to cave in to political blackmail that is saying “if you don’t give me this, you can’t have that.” I urge the council to take a stand for the constituents they were elected to represent.
Linda L. Crandall
Boxed or not, most trains don’t take bikes
You missed the major point in your June 19 editorial “Amtrak should be more accommodating to those with bicycles.”
The vast majority of Amtrak trains stopping in this region offer no checked baggage, period.
So storing a boxed bicycle as baggage really isn’t an option. Amtrak’s current policy toward checked baggage, in a nutshell, is: we don’t want it. You deal with it in the passenger cars.
And, by the way, if you are not a 25-year-old weightlifter, good luck getting that large suitcase in the overhead shelf.
Closing of South End Tavern evokes memories
When I heard that Marty Burke’s South End Tavern is closing, I was reminded of my high school days when my father got me a summer job there.
I was 17 and a surly 17 at that — the first few weeks were terrible, the smells made me sick, and the work was harder than I expected it would be. But I soldiered on, got used to the smells, and began to like my position.
When you worked overtime, you would get a “chit” that entitled you to $1.80 at “Burkeys.” You could get a “half-an-half” sandwich (ham and cheese) for 35 cents, and the rest you could drink up in 10-cent beers. Very often those who worked overtime were sent home after their meal at the South End Tavern because they were too drunk to work in such a dangerous place.
My older brother, Dan, worked there too, and in later years we often took bike rides on the Watervliet-to-Albany bike path — we would look across the river at the coke plant and talk about our days there. Gradually, it was taken down and it was all gone after he died. Now there is no sign that it ever existed when one looks across the river from that bike path. A place where hundreds of men made their living and supported their families; many of those men went to early graves because of the air they breathed there during their years of employment.
And soon there will be no more South End Tavern, where hundreds of employees of the coke plant and thousands from South Troy and other places in the Capital Region ate and drank. The place was famous, at least in our limited world, but now it will become a myth too soon forgotten.
Do more dollars really mean more graduates?
There were several references to graduation rates and their correlation to school funding in your publication of June 18.
Nowhere was there any data to substantiate these claims. I would like to know what the average dollar per pupil spent is for the bottom five districts and the top five districts listed in the Gazette on the aforementioned date.
Then I could make a more informed decision regarding this matter.
Sex harassment in military vs. in state Assembly
Recently I’ve been reading in the Gazette about Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s efforts to curtail sexual harassment within the military, yet she has not been in the least bit upset about [Assembly Speaker] Sheldon Silver’s paying off women with taxpayer money to keep them quiet about sexual harassment within the ranks. Why the silence?
And what about our governor, Andrew Cuomo? The man who is constantly seen on TV talking about cleaning up the ethics in our local government is also silent in regard to Mr. Silver’s action.
Where is the public outcry on this? And why is Mr. Silver not being held accountable for his blatant abuse of power and of taxpayer money, as any other citizen of this state would be?
Reschedule Flag Day Parade in Burnt Hills
As many of you know, our annual Flag Day Parade in Burnt hills was cancelled, rightfully so, due to the worst rainy day of the year.
However, because a rain date was not provided, there is a lot of disappointment from the participants, local merchants and spectators, especially our children. The parade and fireworks are the highlight of the year for us!
This year, though, we are having a celebration for Ballston 225 [225th anniversary]. The town of Ballston is showing interest in having a parade for the 225 festivities as appreciation for all our hard work in planning and preparing for our Flag Day celebration — which didn’t happen.
It has to be approved by the town board, of course, and time is short. There is a Town Board meeting tonight [June 25] at 7:30 p.m. at the Ballston Town Hall, where a decision will be made.
If you are interested in having a rescheduled parade for July 12 or 13 in Burnt Hills, please show your support at this meeting, and bring the kids too!
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