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What you need to know for 07/23/2017

Amsterdam Common Council agrees to assign 15 properties to land bank

Amsterdam Common Council agrees to assign 15 properties to land bank

The Amsterdam Common Council this week approved the Amsterdam Land Bank Committee’s recommendations

At a glance

Properties slated to be demolished:

98 Division St.

155-157 Division St.

73 Forbes St.

78 Forbes St.

230 Grand St.

36 John St.

Properties slated for rehabilitation:

131-133 Guy Park Ave.

56 Lincoln Ave.

30 Austin St.

33 James St.

27 James St.

217-219 Brookside Ave.

83 Bunn St.

40 Union St.

25 Reid St.

The Amsterdam Common Council this week approved the Amsterdam Land Bank Committee’s recommendations to rehab or demolish 15 buildings in the city.

Six properties were picked for demolition, and nine were chosen to be rehabilitated.

Land banks, established by the state Legislature in 2011, can acquire vacant, abandoned or foreclosed properties and choose to rebuild, demolish or rehab them. Houses that are rehabbed are then offered for sale, while land can be used to build on.

Land banks were created to help municipalities deal with blight in their neighborhoods. But before the local land bank can do any work, it has to compete for state funding for its plans.

Earlier this month, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced $20 million in funding would be made available to community land banks this fall. Applications for the funding are due by mid-September, with awards to be announced in October.

Amsterdam is part of the Schenectady-Amsterdam land bank, an intergovernmental agreement involving the two cities and Schenectady County.

The Amsterdam Land Bank Committee has eight members, including Mayor Ann Thane and council members Edward W. Russo and Diane Hatzenbuhler. The committee is advisory, with its main job to identify vacant properties, prioritize which need to be handled first and then develop a strategy for those properties.

The resolution passed Tuesday will be included in the Schenectady-Amsterdam land bank grant application. Ultimately, whatever money the land bank receives, its board will decide how it will be shared. The land bank will also be in charge of hiring contractors to rehab or demolish properties and selling them after work is completed.

Chris Andrzejczyk, director of the All Ministries Embracing Need Soup Kitchen at St. Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, located across from one of the properties chosen for demolition, 98 Division St, and her husband, who also volunteers at the soup kitchen, would be glad to see that building demolished. They would like the area to be used for off-street parking or a playground for kids after the building is gone.

“People will basically feel better about themselves in a beautified neighborhood,” Karl Andrzejczyk said.

Christopher and Joy-Havin Vanhorne and their 5-year old daughter, Zabrina, have lived four years in their home on Forbes Street, on the same side of the street as a property at 78 Forbes St. that was also chosen to be demolished and across from 73 Forbes St., a boarded up house also slated to come down. The couple agreed the house at 73 Forbes St. should be demolished, but felt the one at 78 Forbes St. could instead be rehabbed. They were still glad something was being planned to deal with both, however. “I don’t want to see it just sit there and rot,” Christopher said of the property at 78 Forbes St..

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