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Archive for June, 2010

On 6/29/10 10:35 AM, “Bill Wills” wrote:

…I am requesting for our meeting on July 6th a report on what, in the absence of a roads program, is DPW working on. Thanks!

Alderman Wills

Date: June 29, 2010 5:13:08 PM EDT
To: Bill Wills

Hello Bill,

Of course, I have requested that we schedule one-on-one meetings repeatedly to discuss operations of all city departments, but haven’t heard back from you. Carol will send out the request again today.

As far as DPW, we just completed our meeting this morning. Over the past month, DPW has attended to the following:

Church Street:
• a section of compromised sewer main at the top of the hill has been replaced, so the residents at 307 will no longer have a problem in their basement. The crews will be by next week to shoot the main and clear it of gravel.

• milling will start next week on the sections we identified that have settled. The job is expected to take about a week to complete, with considerations given to weather, traffic control, etc.

Federal Stimulus Road Program completion:
Excavations, storm line repair, rubble fill, blacktop and sidewalks poured to finish off hydrant work on Guy Park Av. Work has also been performed at Edson & James, Clizbe and Florida Av.

Water lateral leaks have been addressed at: 42 Wilkes Av, 33 McClellan Av, 50 Green St, 52 Crane St, 298 East Main St, 104 Broome Av, 269 Division St, and 6 Vrooman Av. Situations still need to be addressed at: 310 East Main St, 9 Jay St, 303 Division St.

Water laterals have been reamed at: 15 William St, 324-326 Locust Av, and 416 Locust Av. Situations still need to be addressed at: 302 Locust Av.

Water Main Repairs have been addressed at: RT 30S by the Coastal Mart., East Main St, Lark St, and Broadway.

Fire Hydrants
• have been replaced at: Guy St, Wall St, and Garden St. We have fifteen other spots to attend to.
• McDonald Engineering working up a plan to test flow. We hope to implement the second half of July.

Shuttleworth Park: Millings spread for parking, concrete base poured for the flagpole

Sewer/Storm repairs:
• Excavations and repairs made a Vrooman & Hibbard, and at Academy St.
• Regular maintenance (flushing sanitary & storm mains, vacuuming out catch basins) continues around the city.
• Situations still need to be addressed at: Saratoga Horseworks on Edson St, Thomas St to Market St, on Academy St and Florida Av (egg-shaped clay tile piping replacement requires capital investment).

Additional scheduled work:
• Sink holes at Brandt Pl and McDowell St need repair
• Road work because of erosion at Steadwell Av as well as Daniel St.
• Valves must be replaced for flow testing at Mechanic & Garden Sts, Garden & Union Sts, and Union & Clayton St.
• Water Main Dead Ends need addressing at 10 separate sites because of dirty water
• Fire hydrants will be flushed next month
• A main on Northampton needs repaired, but is more complicated than anticipated as concrete was poured around the structure years ago. We will need to rent a pounder to excavate.
• A property on Clayton St is in need of attention, as there is potential for collapse after the demolition of an adjoining property. The County will be assisting us in this venture.

Forty-five men are being offered confined space training over a three day period (starting today) to satisfy PESH mandates. We will need to purchase equipment and AFD will need to be certified as the rescue team.

As far as the road program goes, Roseanne and Ray will visit the roads suggested for repair and make a recommendation next month as to which roads we will prepare for resurfacing, based on cost/need. We will have to transfer funds (which will be reimbursed by the state) by resolution in August to make funds available for the project. This is standard practice.

Other DPW/Engineering areas of interest:

Broadway:
• Unidentified smell at top of Broadway is being investigated. Has been discussed with McDonald Engineering – possible source: South Side pump station by Alpin Haus. We will have AFD monitor air quality at site before talking to Beechnut and Bill Strevy for remedy (possible solution may be the addition of a chemical feed pump to system to neutralize odor.)
• Catch basins that had been improperly installed by Cranbrook are being replaced by contractor at their expense.

Windswept Drive:
Improvements to water distribution system will result in greater water pressure on the hill. McDonald Engineering will notify the neighborhood of the change and make constituents aware that PRV’s (pressure regulating valves) are available for free upon request (paid for by the County).

Public Safety Building:
• HVAC system air quality survey complete. Air quality found to be below danger threshold, but staff is still concerned as some are exposed for 24-hours at a pop while on duty. The $20K estimate for cleaning has now ballooned to $30-40K (this cleaning was not allocated for in 2005 when improvements were made to the building).
• ADA access is an issue. Cuts in curbing and some ramping necessary at APD entrance. Erwin to contact Jim Burroughs to see if there is grant funding available for compliance. Liberty may be approached as well, as they paid for improvements here at City Hall in the past.

Tank replacements at DPW:
• Ray has been working closely with the state. They are impressed with our proactive response, stating we have “gone over and above” their expectations (please note that NYMIR was similarly impressed with our response to PESH concerns which netted us better rates)
• We are getting quotes to purchase replacement tanks.

Bridge Street:
• Final revisions to bid specs are back from state and we are giving them one last review here. We will be able to advertise on the 8th or 9th, with the bid opening slated for July 29th at the State’s request. Reconstruction to follow in August.
• Should bids come in low enough, we should consider purchasing property on Bridge Street for parking. We will request that the State reallocate the $393K granted for utility burials for construction of an city-owned, treed parking area.

Chalmers Demo:
Final bid specs have been dropped off. We will be meeting with the State Rep next week and advertise the following week. Demo will occur in the fall as anticipated.

City Hall Asbestos Removal:
Walk-thru completed last week. Bids were opened today. I haven’t received a report as to where they came in yet.

Trees Removal:
Quotes have come in around $3,500. We will need to wait until the new budget to implement.

Demolition:
City staff will be meeting to discuss a course of action. We will discuss how much is left in our coffers, prioritize our list of properties and figure out a schedule of work. We will follow up with the County the following week. We’d like to do abatements this summer to prepare properties for rapid demolition in the fall. We will need additional funding for this initiative. This goes beyond cosmetics, this is a health and safety issue.

WWT:
• Upgrades proceeding nicely
• Potential sale of pellet plant materials being considered. We have the interest of a buyer from NJ.

Water Filtration:
• Upgrades at plant proceeding nicely
• Stratification project at source completed

Scrap Metal at quary: Interest in purchase by 18 entities. Bids to be opened July 6th at 11am

Grieme Av Bridge: Bid specs being put together by CT Male

With the many retirements in the department, we continue to have personnel concerns. This should be discussed in light of the hiring freeze.

I hope you find this informative. This is only one department that I track, which is why I would prefer to sit down with each alderman/supervisor personally to discuss operations. The closer you work with me and the more educated you become as to daily affairs, the better our decision-making process will be as a Council. I hope that each of you will respond to my request to schedule regular meetings with me to facilitate a healthy working relationship.

Hope to see you all on the East End this weekend.

Thanks, A.

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WordPress is completely fussy tonight and will not allow me to align photos or print captions. So, the following are “before” and “after” photos of the new City of Amsterdam signs, starting on the West End, followed by the East End, and finishing up with the Northern Entrance on RT 67 (the Rotary medallion was stolen and will be replaced.) I’ll have to tend to the layout issues tomorrow.

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This weekend I am planning an East End Attack (Clean-up) that will be the start of a community mural project. Our focus will be on the many derelict properties, city owned and not, that line the corridor that serves as the eastern entrance to the City. I am asking for your assistance in volunteering, lining up volunteers (by calling friends and relatives directly and asking them to show up), or by offering material donations.

The following is a proposed plan of attack. I will be posting more detailed information tomorrow and in the coming days.

Friday, July 2: 9am – 4pm Front Line Invasion. Cutting vegetation, cleaning windows, picking up trash, and painting sills, doors and boarded up establishments. Also taking measurements; coordinating all volunteers in teams/dividing tasks.

Saturday, July 3: 9am – 4pm Superior Force Campaign. PAINT! Ready areas for murals. Initial artistic expression. 🙂

We need PEOPLE, brushes, rollers, trays, drop clothes, rags, buckets, sponges, rakes, brooms, clippers, weed-wackers, garbage bags and gloves. Bring what you can. Wear sensible shoes and aprons.

Please spread the word. Take a drive down East Main Street. If you are an artist, think about what you’d like to create and where. Contact me with your thoughts.

We’re looking for at least 50 volunteers. We’ll make this initial attack and then pair down to smaller groups on consecutive weekends over the summer to tackle longer-term projects (larger murals.)

The project will be ongoing this summer (and probably year) as we obviously won’t be able to eat the whole elephant in one sitting. Forward interested folks to me at: athane@amsterdamny.gov. This will have a great, immediate and dramatic effect on the east end,

and will be very cool.

To see what other communities have achieved, please see the following sites:

City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

Chicago Public Arts Group

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Anyone that grabs a cup of joe in the morning at Dunkin Donuts knows how bad this property had gotten. I’m sorry I didn’t get a “before” shot, but Debbie and Karin have been at it again and we now have one more property that has benefited from their kindness. They fetched eleven bags of grass and trash, one box of detritus, and four mangled cushions. Because of the actions of these two women, the next door neighbor has agreed to keep a small patch mowed in front of the house. Imagine what would happen if we all pitched in and adopted one abandoned structure in our neighborhood?

Thank you so much, lovely ladies of Division Street, for spreading your magic around the City.

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benchmarks

Dorothy Elizabeth Volk Thane, 90 years young followed by Ian D. Thane, 2010 AHS Graduate.

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The following are photos of City Hall.
May its beauty spread to the 5-1/2 miles of city that surround it.

Ask yourself, “What would Saratoga do?”

City of Amsterdam City Hall

Controller's Office

Mantle: Clerk's Office

Treasurer's office

Assessor Cal Cline in his office.

Congressman Tonko's suite

My office

New Conference Suite

Community Garden or Rose Garden?

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The following is the correspondence that inspired me to post the pertinacious pictures. The Controller had contacted the Council to approve the release of a $2,700 payment for work done in the side lot at City Hall. The total had been disputed at the recent common council meeting, Mr. Leggiero purporting that the sum was over $5000. The Controller corrected this misinformation in her communication with the Council.

On 6/16/10 9:55 AM, “Bill Wills” wrote:

Once we receive an explanation of why the rose garden which according to my recollection was not near any foundations had to be dug up and readied for what appears to be replanting. The incredible explanation of the damage by roots to the building’s foundation was almost too good to be true. I hope I am dead wrong on this and we actually did something to better the condition of the building as these monies came from the building repair account along with the other three user accounts.

Heather, please add up the charges to the all of the accounts for this and I believe that is how Alderman Leggiero came up with his $5,000 figure. Thanks!!

Alderman Wills

From: “Ann M. Thane”
Date: June 17, 2010 12:32:02 PM EDT

Bill,

I don’t suppose you had paid any attention to the side lot over the past few years, as it had turned into a treed area. Last year, I had seasonals and volunteers from Workforce Solutions cut the growth down over three days, but they were unable to take out the roots as they lacked the proper equipment and experience. The trees had sprouted up on every inch of the lot and along the walls/steps, causing significant damage. I will email photos of what this negligence has caused, though I didn’t get before and after shots (wish I had).

I had anticipated that the lot would be planted as a community garden this year, but was approached by a group that is interested in restoring what had been the Rose Garden. They have met three times in the past two weeks and are putting together a proposed plan of implementation. They are also starting an Amsterdam Historical Society which is described in a recently released memorandum to the Council from the City Historian.

Over the past two years, with very little money, I have systematically begun to give this property the care it has long needed and missed. We’ve painted and re-carpeted the entire first floor, parts of the second and third floors, and have created new offices out of closets that had been in a state of disrepair. The regional Congressional offices are now housed here and we use the new conference room on a daily basis. We continue to restructure the storage areas and will be abating the basement of asbestos in the next month or so– a job that should have been done in 2003 but was not funded by the Council, ignoring possible health risks to employees and the public. This summer, we will be making ADA improvements to bathrooms & signage, abating the asbestos from the portico outside of the council chamber, removing rust & painting the railing on the back patio to preserve it, and scraping/painting the windows on the front of the building. We are trying to stretch the dollars that have been allotted for the purpose of maintaining this building to the best of our abilities.

I don’t understand why you would question the investment we have made to stabilize this beautiful community treasure. As long as we are here, it is our responsibility to preserve it, as it is a part of our shared heritage and a symbol of what our expectations are for the future of Amsterdam. It is deserving of the attention I have given it. I am especially puzzled that you would question the expenditure to save the garden walls, when in 2007, you allotted $90,000 for the building and very little went to its maintenance. Instead, without any scrutiny from administration or the Council, the custodian was given carte blanche to do as he wished, purchasing components for his tractor that were never used as the building fell further into demise.

I will forward the photos later tonight. The payment for the $2700 owed to Dave’s Landscaping should be released. If anyone on the council feels otherwise, please forward your comments before the end of the business day. Thanks, A.

Mayor Ann M. Thane

No further commentary was received before the end of the day.

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I am posting photos of the incredible damage done by nature to architectural elements at City Hall. Pictured: effects of vegetation to the walls and steps in the lot that had formally been the rose garden, and the effects of water damage to the back railing and portico outside of the Mayor’s office.

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The Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation will present the Boys of Wexford on Sunday, June 20th, 1:30 PM at Riverlink Park in Amsterdam. A talented array of musicians will perform Irish songs, Erie Canal and Civil War era tunes on their fifth annual tour of Erie Canal venues. The show will feature Don Sineti, folksinger, songwriter, part-time sea chanteyman at historic Mystic Seaport Museum (with one of the most powerful voices on the Eastern Seaboard!).

Riverlink Cafe will be open serving burgers, dogs, distinctive sandwiches as well as wine, beer and soft drinks. All Cafe proceeds will benefit the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation in support of the annual Riverlink Concert Series – Saturday evenings during July and August.

Riverlink Park is located on the Mohawk River in downtown Amsterdam (NYS Thruway Exit 27) with parking on the upper level of the Riverfront Center (Route 30 North – entrance on right, opposite the Amsterdam Post Office).

Rain venue is the Irish American Club, 12 Yeoman Street, Amsterdam.

For information, call Paul at 527-5132.

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Thank you so much to the Elks Club for again allowing me to share in today’s celebration of our American Flag, the symbol of our freedoms, our loyalties, our ideals, our scars and our bravery. It is an honor I enjoy and I am humbled by your invitation.

In preparation for today’s presentation, I spent some time reviewing the history of our nation and the flag and several thoughts came to mind I’d like to share.

The first is how young we are as a nation, but how timeless our ideals are. It is only fitting that the men that formed the First Continental Congress in 1774 were young as well, most in their 30’s and 40’s. The confidence of youth gave birth to our dreams. These men were passionate, idealistic, and uncompromisingly independent; in a word they were revolutionaries!

I put it to you all here today that we still are motivated by their spirit, that it has echoed through the past two centuries as we have rallied for ethnic and gender equality, and have staunchly fought, under the hallmark of our flag, for humanity around the globe.

The first flags were fashioned in 1776, each hand-sewn and handsome, treasured representations of the beginning of our new nation. The first formal adoption of a uniform design came in 1777. No one person can be officially credited with its design, which in a way is appropriate. We are a nation of diverse interests, ethnicities, ages and circumstance, yet we all pledge allegiance, our hands over our hearts, to one flag.

In 1785, our flag was carried to Canton, China on a merchant ship – our clear enterprise as a nation already established and active. We were known for almost 150 years to the Chinese, because of the beauty of our flag, as the “flower flag country”. As we all know, we may extol the beauty of a nation that surpases its symbol.

Our flag changes with time, evolving as each star is added to indicate the admission of a new state to our Union. It’s important to note our continued optimism and expectation for growth, as designs for the addition of six more stars already exist. Our expectations remain unbridled, our Union unbroken despite wars and difficult economic, civic and environmental challenges.

We remain a UNION.

We must remember this term when we think of the men and women that have followed our flag into unimaginably adverse conditions – be it into certain defeats in battles during the Civil War or courageously into countries dominated by tyranny to fight for the rights of others, that they may choose freely to worship openly and live with dignity and equality.

We’ve brandished our flag, this symbol of all that we hold to be true and good, as we liberated the helpless from concentration camps and rebuilt war-ravaged Europe. We’ve followed our flag when sending troops, medical staff, pharmaceuticals, food and clean water to areas around the world devastated by disasters, be they from flood or famine, or man-made atrocities like those in Bosnia, Somalia, the Philippines or Iraq.

We follow our flag.

We follow our hearts.

Our flag not only heralds our generosity but also our industry. It serves as an international symbol of prosperity and hope. Ours is the only flag to fly on the MOON!

I consider myself so fortunate to be a recipient of the gifts this flag has given me. I was lucky enough to travel as a young person and to see first hand the absence of liberty – to need an escort from the airport to my hotel in the USSR and to witness the need of relatives to have a passport to travel from one town to the next in an area as close as Amsterdam and Schenectady. I’ve seen poverty so extreme that people considered a corral of cinderblocks three deep with a dirt floor and chickens habitable; completely acceptable – unaware of the everyday conveniences we possess: clothing, carpets, music, running water and ELECTRICITY – all unthinkable to the forgotten.

Our fortunes come from our flag – from the convictions of our forefathers and the sacrifices of countless lives even today. Please take a moment today and Monday to reflect on our true wealth, the comfort we enjoy and the love that we share, and give thanks that God planted you under this flag.

Thank you again. God bless.

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“All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.”
– JFK

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There are factual problems with the Recorder editorial (again) that ran in today’s (6-6-2010) paper.

Last year, we had two housing inspectors reporting to the engineer, not three. We hired a codes supervisor to facilitate scheduling, tracking, reporting and efficiency, shifting supervision of the department away from the engineer. One housing inspector was caught (because of increased scrutiny) falsifying time sheets and stealing pay for time not worked. We now have one inspector and one supervisor. The Council has cut the supervisor in the new budget in order to insert an “entry level” inspector, even though the supervisor also handles building plan review, zoning and permitting. This effectively cuts about $10,000 or .0004% of the budget when we are entering into the busiest complaint season of the year and destroys what we have been struggling to achieve, a strengthened codes department. I have steadfastly requested an additional inspector (or two). The Council has chosen instead to keep two keyboard specialist positions that could be combined into one because of prioritized need.

There is now a suggestion that we give code enforcement to the fire department. This is being investigated but in the end may cost us in time, training and certain negotiation/litigation by two labor units, with the outcome uncertain at best.

I continue to campaign for the confidential aid position in my office. Though code enforcement is a number one priority for this administration (I ran on this too), it is not and cannot be the only endeavor we push forward. I also ran on economic development. Previous administrations either did nothing to promote our city, had confidential aids or an entire Community and Economic Development Department. My aid is instrumental in the creation and production of marketing materials and initiatives (print, video, signage, web and events), oversees our neighborhood association and volunteer activities, and helps shoulder the enormous amount of work that is generated by my office every day. He has exceeded every goal that has been set for him, all for $16,000 a year or .0006% of the budget.

There is a $4.9 BILLION dollar industry sprouting up just 35 minutes from Amsterdam and my office will not have the personnel to engage this global giant.

Slicing my aid and the codes supervisor doesn’t hurt me, it hurts the city.

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Update: Via Ponte Pedestrian Bridge Project

The Draft Design Report, serving to coordinate and condense background information regarding project scope and objectives, alternatives, site history and conditions is being prepared. A NEPA Environmental Assessment and SEQR Full Environmental Assessment Form are being prepared along with the supporting documentation. Required agency coordination with USCG, USACOE, NYSDEC, NYSOPRHP, NYSDOT and the City is on-going. Subsurface borings for geotechnical purposes and environmental purposes are being scheduled. Test pits required for archaeological assessment have been approved by the SHPO and are scheduled to begin shortly. Property lines and rights of way are being finalized and the process to begin acquiring necessary parcels is on-going with the NYSDOT.

Regarding engineering, approximately six bridge alignment options are being investigated. The bridge type being progressed is a steel multi-girder in accordance with the results of public feedback (votes). The “Brooklyn Bridge” concept is not being progressed, again based on the results of public feedback and anticipated additional future maintenance needs.

Straight, curved and combination alignments are being investigated to determine required beam depth, substructure requirements and clearances. Some difficulties in the proposed river pier locations have been encountered due to portions of the pier foundations of the “old” bridge remaining below the riverbed.

In order to further public involvement in the project, another Public Information Meeting just about the bridge type and approaches will be scheduled for mid-July. After that meeting, the Draft Design Report/Environmental Assessment will be circulated for review and comment. Completion of the Environmental Assessment and Design Approval is still on schedule for January 2011, as is the September 2012 project letting.

Coordination and cooperation between agencies involved has been on-going and very good. We are on schedule.

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Just a quick update:

1. The Graffiti Clean-up will be from Friday, July 23 – Sunday, July 25. We are starting a “paint bank” at City Hall to better match some of the structures we may paint. If you’ve got a spare half gallon or so of exterior latex from a home improvement project, contact us at my office (841-4311) and we’ll store in our garage annex.

As was the case last year, if you know of any locations that you think need concentrated graffiti clean-up attention (an abandoned property or structure owned by an elderly/disabled individual), please contact my office. Also, if you know of individuals or groups that would like to be involved, please forward their contact information.

2. Donna Dickerson has secured a table at the American Legion BBQ/Craft Fair on Sunday, August 1. We will be able to hand out information and hopefully sign up some new neighbors. We also hope to raise a little money for our efforts as discussed at our neighborhood association meeting on June 3rd. Again, anyone wishing to volunteer a little time at this event, please let me know.

3. Again, our other Association dates are:

National Night Out: Tuesday, August 3
Fall Meet & Greet (possible clean up): Saturday, September 25

Keep an eye out for more information.

I greatly appreciate all that everyone is doing for the city. We’ll get the word out and make this all a tremendous success!

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Our Neighborhood Association Meeting will be held at City Hall on Thursday, June 3rd at 5:30pm.

We’ll discuss a schedule of events for the rest of the year, including a graffiti cleanup this summer and the fall neighborhood watch meet & greet, the crime control white paper, watch sign locations, and the desires/concerns of each neighborhood group.

BTW… we’ve had the side lot at city hall cleared of trees, stumps, and an errant groundhog. It’s been tilled and readied for a community garden. If you’ve got kids, a girl or boy scout troop, an aunt that can’t resist plants, or a green thumb all of your own, we hope you’ll pitch in. We’re looking for plant donations, expertise, and garden TLC. Call my office at 841-4311 if you are want to be involved or show up at tomorrow night’s meeting at 5:30. 61 Church Street.

Please join us.

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It’s baaaack! Riverlink Cafe opens Thursday, June 3rd for dinner. Click here to see photos of the park and restaurant. Exceptional location, food and wine. Support our beautiful park!

Spread the word.

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