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What you need to know for 07/24/2017

Rotterdam mall fate is a lesson for casino supporters

Rotterdam mall fate is a lesson for casino supporters

*Rotterdam mall fate is a lesson for casino supporters *Gun violence not on rise as some believe *Th

Rotterdam mall fate is a lesson for casino supporters

Legislators in Schenectady County should look at the history of Rotterdam Square mall as they make decisions on casinos. The current condition of the mall should serve as a warning about the promises of big developers.

Think back to the days when the Rotterdam Square mall was being proposed. Wilmorite Corp. touted the long-term economic benefits. Legislators rushed to support the mall despite public opposition. Some of the opposition to Rotterdam Square mall was similar to current opposition to the proposed casino. Citizens asked about traffic, environmental impact and economic sustainability. Some questioned if the mall was a good fit for the community.

Look at the current condition of Rotterdam Square mall. Stores closed up and empty hallways. The mall is struggling despite falling under new ownership. Will this be the fate of the proposed casino? What will happen 20 years down the road when the novelty wears off? How can the casino or mall survive if we do not make efforts at real economic growth? That growth should come in the form of creating manufacturing jobs.

Why not offer the former Alco plant as a spot for a chip-fab plant? Why not develop the land for the expansion of Union College, SCCC or Ellis Medical? Perhaps Golub Corp. or Galesi Group could use the site for additional warehousing and distribution. In other words, we need economic diversity on that site. The casino is just too risky because we are putting all our eggs in one basket. What is the fall-back plan if casino gamble fails? No one seems to know.

The citizens that opposed Wilmorite in the early days of Rotterdam Square mall asked one big question: What will we do if this place goes under? That prediction is taking place right now before our eyes. Rotterdam Square mall just can't compete with Colonie Center or Crossgates. Current opposition to the casino is asking the same thing. What will we do with a boarded-up casino 20 years from now? What if another casino comes in nearby and draws business away from the Schenectady casino? What then?

Let's use the former Alco site for real, long-term, economic development. Short-sighted polices cost us once already. Let's not let it happen again.

Robert VanHoesen


Gun violence not on rise as some believe

On Flag Day, a march promoting gun control legislation was held in New York City. This misguided demonstration by three anti-gun groups supported by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg seeks to further gun control legislation on the federal and state level.

What the groups fail to acknowledge are the facts surrounding gun use in this country. Numerous studies, data analysis and crime reports by and for federal agencies have demonstrated that mass shootings, murders and other violent crimes by gun have actually decreased substantially since 1993. FBI statistics, which are available online, show this trend.

Recent FBI reports show that in the first six months of 2013, violent crime dropped 6.9 percent and rapes declined 10.6 percent. A report from the National Center for Education Statistics finds there has not been a rise in school shooting victims since 1993.

While the latest tragic news of school shootings and other mass shootings garners headlines in the news media, many of the facts surrounding the topic are clouded in emotions and knee-jerk reactions. Time after time, these killers pick places where civilian guns are banned.

Around the world, virtually all the attacks where at least four people have been shot to death occurred where civilians were not able to use guns to defend themselves.

Recently, the group Everytown announced that 74 gun-related shootings occurred at schools since the infamous Newtown, Conn., shootings. That was a blatant lie. But it caught the attention of millions of people who will never be exposed to the real statistics. The incidents on the map include gang-related shootings near school grounds. About half of the total occurred on or near college campuses and had no association with the college.

According to available statistics, the United States is less violent today than it was 20 years ago. Gun sales and use have been on the rise over the same time that crime and shootings are down. That is a fact (FBI statistics) and cannot be denied. In fact, violent crime in the United States is about 20 percent per 100,000 people of that in England, where almost all private ownership of guns is banned.

The right to own guns were set forth by the Founding Fathers and "...shall not be infringed."

Over 250 years ago, Benjamin Franklin said: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Gray Pitkin


Thanks to Sch’dy Water Department

Too often we read letters complaining about government services. Time for a letter of praise.

In April, the basement floor in my home in Schenectady's Stockade area became covered in water. After eliminating in-home sources for the problem, I searched for external sources to no avail. I then turned to the Schenectady City Water Department for advice.

I spoke with several department employees, who listened with sympathy and offered to assist in finding a solution. Over the course of several days, they systematically explored possible sources for my problem, and their efforts narrowed the field until the source was found.

Thanks to the Schenectady Water Department, I can now work in my basement with dry feet and a grateful heart.

Fred Heitkamp


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