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Thane doing what needs to be done to revive Amsterdam

Thane doing what needs to be done to revive Amsterdam

Mayor deserves a third term

Some of us are old enough to remember a TV commercial that featured the Carly Simon song, "Anticipation," playing in the background while two kids waited for Heinz Ketchup to make a tantalizingly slow descent out of the bottle and onto a hamburger.

"It's worth the wait," the commercial ended.

Such is the case in Amsterdam, where efforts to revitalize the aging city have been tantalizingly slow.

But like the commercial says, good things take time. And Mayor Ann Thane is the person to bring those good things to fruition.

Heading the city for the past eight years and seeking a third-term on Nov. 3, the mayor has spent her time in office aggressively seeking ways to bring the city back to life.

But like thick catsup, progress at times seems to be unacceptably slow.

There are rundown buildings, as many as 600 by some estimates, that either need to be rehabilitated or torn down. The area didn't get the casino that was supposed to provide jobs and new business for the city.

The city has failed to attract major employers to replace lost manufacturing jobs. And decrepit old factories like the Chalmers Knitting Mill, the abandoned 7-story brick-and-concrete factory with the broken windows on the city's south side, define many people's image of Amsterdam.

The city will soon have a new pedestrian bridge across the Mohawk River that appears to go from nowhere to nowhere. Turning the bridge into a tourist attraction and gateway to new development along the waterfront is potentially years away.

Thane’s opponent in the race is Mike Villa, director of the Montgomery County welfare fraud unit, a former Amsterdam police detective and son of a former mayor.

He says the progress Thane claims credit for hasn't happened fast enough. In fact, he says, the city has gone backwards. He believes the city should be speeding up foreclosures, that there's too much waste and inefficiency in city departments, that the mayor should have a better handle on the city budget, and that the city isn't exploiting assets like the Chalmers building and the golf course.

Rather than rebuild Amsterdam, as Thane looks to do, Villa wants to reinvent it and change outsiders' prospective.

While Villa might have an accurate perception of what exists, he's incorrect in implying the mayor has sat by and let the city continue to deteriorate.

She has been active in seeking grants for upgrades to roads, bridges and the water and waste treatment plants, $25 million to date. She's involved the city in a regional effort to improve code enforcement as a way to combat blight.

She's worked to clean up vandalism and address so-called broken-windows crimes that spread like a disease throughout the city.

She's begun to make use of money from the Capital Region Land Bank to revitalize neighborhoods.

And while more than 100 buildings have been torn down during her tenure, she's cautious about casually destroying old structures that give the city its character. The Common Council, with whom she is often at odds, unanimously signed off on a grant application for $400,000 to address blight.

Under Thane's administration, water lines feeding fire hydrants have been upgraded, tons of trash has been cleaned up and she has a plan to address the city's finances.

As for her highly publicized conflicts with the Common Council, well, let's just say everyone on the board, including Thane, bears a share of the blame for the political infighting and dysfunction.

On top of all her accomplishments, Thane has an obvious passion for the city, which shows in her efforts.

Good things are worth the wait. Amsterdam isn't where it needs to be. But Mayor Ann Thane has earned more time to get it there.

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