People came out in force to support additional funding for the Hamilton Hill Arts Center during a Schenectady City Council public hearing on the city’s five-year consolidated plan and 2015 action plan to leverage $2.6 million in federal funding for projects.
Schenectady’s action plan to distribute the funding focuses on targeting blighted properties and helping to enhance low-income neighborhoods. As part of the proposal, the city is looking to provide $19,608 for the Hamilton Hill Arts Center for Project ArtReach to offer educational and cultural programming for low- and moderate-income youth in the neighborhood.
“We need continued funding for the arts center,” said Sharon Carter, who resides in the city’s Northside and works at the arts center. “The arts center is very challenged physically. I request increasing allocation significantly this year. We want to ensure the survival of the arts center because it saves lives, literally. It’s a safe haven.”
Carter also thanked the city for planning to allocate $5,000 to the Schenectady Inner City Ministry for its lunch program. She said with the city’s help SICM would be able to serve more than 80,000 lunches this year.
City residents also spoke in support of funding for Better Neighborhoods, Inc. for housing rehabilitation programs and to help assist prospective homebuyers with purchasing a property.
The action plan aims to give Better Neighborhoods a total of $126,159.
“If it wasn’t for this program Schenectady would have dozens more abandoned properties,” said Rev. Stanley Skinner. “BNI provides first-time homebuyer programs and helps disabled stay in their homes much longer, rather than a nursing home or hospital.”
The City Council is scheduled to approve the federal funding proposal during the council’s next meeting on May 11.
The City Council entered into a lease agreement with the Tri-City Cricket League to hold games at Grout Park.
The new agreement comes after the city terminated a lease for Grout Park previously held by the Guyanese American Association of Schenectady’s Premier Softball Cricket League.
Councilman Ed Kosiur, who brokered the deal between the two groups, said GAAS’ cricket group would rent two softball fields at Central Park for $100 a week instead. He said both groups are pleased with the outcome.
“The main problem was a scheduling conflict,” Kosiur said. “There wasn’t enough time for both to play at Grout Park. Almost 95 percent of the games are played on Sunday. That became a major scheduling problem.”
The Premier Softball Cricket League used to play at Central Park but the group was kicked out because people affiliated with the group at the time were drinking and urinating on the property, Kosiur said.
“With all of our parks we just want to make sure we have a place where people can go and enjoy themselves and have recreation time,” Councilwoman Marion Porterfield said.
Councilman Vince Riggi said there is “bad blood” between the two groups. He said the conflict has been an ongoing problem over the past couple of years.
POLICE AND FIRE
The Schenectady Fire Department hired two new firefighters on March 29. Brendan Leach and Andrew Congdon are both joining the department as firefighters and paramedics.
Leach and Congdon are attending 14 weeks of firefighter training at the Utica Fire Department Fire Academy. Both attended Hudson Valley Community College.
Also, Marc Ciccone was promoted as captain in the department. He has been with the department since 2003. Brian Heaney was promoted to lieutenant after being with the department since 2003.
The Schenectady Police Department promoted Michael Dalton, 35, and Brian Whipple, 31, as sergeants on Feb. 1. Both were hired in 2009.
The department is also welcoming transfer Jeremy Liggett, 26, who is currently with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department. Liggett graduated from Burnt Hills Ballston-Lake High School and has an Associate’s Degree in occupational studies from Hudson Valley Community College.
The department is also gaining William Gannon, 31, and William Stockman, 32, as police officers. Gannon is currently with the Albany County Sheriff’s Department and Stockman is with the town of Coeyman’s Police Department.