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Archive for June, 2010

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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