Archive for August, 2010



On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

– John O’Donohue, ANAM CARA, © 1997

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WMHT has garnered the funding necessary to move forward with its OUR TOWN: AMSTERDAM segment. They are recruiting volunteer storytellers to capture video to answer the question, “What is special about Amsterdam?” The resulting video will be incorporated into a 60-minute special airing this November.

Community members from Amsterdam are invited to attend an informational meeting and training session. Anyone interested in the production is invited to attend. There are no restrictions as to age or experience and no cost to participate. Please bring your camera to the meeting.

For more information about the project, please contact producer, Joanne Durfee at jdurfee@wmht.org, or call 518-880-3400. Participate online at wmht.org/ourtown.

Calling all Amsterdam residents…You are invited!

When: Monday, September 13, 2010 @ 7 pm
Where: Wilbur H. Lynch Literacy Academy
55 Brandt Place, Amsterdam, NY

OUR TOWN: AMSTERDAM is underwritten by Amsterdam Printing, Beechnut, St. Mary’s Hospital and the Stewart Shops

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I’ll be hosting a public forum on Tuesday, August 31st at Amsterdam High School Cafeteria to discuss the proposed pedestrian bridge designs. Honored guests speakers will be Congressman Paul Tonko and NYS Canal Corporation Director Carmella Mantello. Residents will view a video presentation featuring current and future waterfront projects and will be given the opportunity to query architects and engineers from Saratoga Associates and the NYS Thruway Authority. Votes will be gathered to assist in making final design recommendations. The meeting will begin at 6pm. Participants should park in front of the school and enter through the front door as the parking lot is being resurfaced.

Bring your friends and family. This is an exciting project for Amsterdam.

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We need peeps to roll out base primer for a HUGE mural of the American Flag this Saturday! Please spend a couple of hours with us dusting off the east entrance to the City. Starts at 10am. Ladders and rollers with extensions appreciated. Paint, encouragement and laughter supplied.

Call 841-4311 to volunteer. Amsterdam NEEDS YOU!

Update: Much to our disappointment, the paint on the building was found to be too badly compromised to paint over and will have to be tested for lead. We will look into this while the artist may choose another site. Keep tuned, we’ll need your help when the time comes.

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New York State announced today that the City of Amsterdam received a $600,000 CDBG grant award to make improvements to our water distribution system. After a tragic fire last March, staff and I had drafted an action plan to address the ongoing problems of the aging system. Over the past year, we made our grant request, we’d been working on policies and procedures, and making incremental progress identifying areas of need.

Thanks to the efforts of our partners at McDonald Engineering and successful Grant Writer Nick Zabawsky, we have been awarded the maximum amount allowed in this competetive round to make important improvements to our hydrants, valves and water mains. Bravo!

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A proposal put forth by the fourth ward alderman to gut the Mayor’s operational lines for marketing, contractual services and operations will be considered at tomorrow night’s Common Council meeting. The proposal is pathetically shortsighted, overtly political and can serve no good purpose. I have now drafted an explanation of many of the activities of my office so that you, good reader, may be informed of this ill-conceived action.

Marketing funds have been used in the copywriting, design, and production of the following materials:
– website
– printed promotional materials (letterhead, business cards, presentation folder and customizable inserts)
– banners
– signage
– flyers, invites
– printed advertising

Future marketing efforts that will also incur planning, copywriting, design and production costs include:
– website hosting, updates and maintenance
– email blasts
– direct mailings
– web videos
– radio spots
– online marketing in other regions
– murals, flowers, signage & beautification

On average, we get 3000 NEW visitors a month to the City website. The site is regularly used by constituents for information, forms, phone numbers and event updates. We are launching six promotional videos THIS WEEK to further leverage this resource. The current proposal will leave me with less than half of what it costs to keep our website online and without funding for any other marketing efforts.

Most of the marketing revenues budgeted this year come from a grant from National Grid. In my two years and a half years in office, we have successfully raised the profile of the City of Amsterdam in the Capital District. I have attracted two significant development projects (the repurposing of Chalmers and Esquire buildings into apartments; one developer was turned away by the Council and one chose to very publicly back away from Amsterdam). I have been at the forefront of efforts to bring the State Data Center here and continue to work with local realtors and economic development agencies to garner the interest of site selectors for businesses and families relocating to the region because of Global Foundries/Tech Valley initiatives.

I have continuously encouraged collaboration between AIDA, URA, Council, Chamber, GASD, FMCC and the County.

My operational budget goes toward training seminars, trade magazines and materials, professional memberships, travel, office furniture and supplies, and other miscellaneous contractual expenses. The current proposal will leave me $200 for office supplies, which won’t even buy me a replacement toner cartridge for my secretary’s copier/fax machine.

In the absence of a Community & Economic Development Department (the natural entity to handle marketing and the following projects), I now oversee:
– the zoning rewrite committee
– downtown rehabilitation
– traffic re-patterning
– neighborhood revitalization initiatives
– city-wide clean ups
– property disposition
– brownfield opportunity areas rehabilitation

In the past, this department had a director, two grant writers and a secretary. Currently, the City has no grant writer either.

I also oversee the activities of the Engineering/DPW and the Codes Department. Projects include (but are not limited to):
– capital projects (Bridge Street Reconstruction, Chalmers Demolition, Riverlink Park Phase II, Church Street Reconstruction/Repairs – please note: all of these projects were inherited from former administrations that had failed to bring them to fruition)
– demolition of blighted properties
– water distribution/hydrant replacement strategy
– stimulus road program
– Water Filtration Plant improvements
– Waste Water Treatment Plant improvements

Professional engineering services are contractually provided by McDonald Engineering, CT Male Associates and Saratoga Associates, depending on the project. Since my time in office, we have never been without professional guidance or expertise.

I steadfastly advance the seven goals identified in the Comprehensive Plan.

My office shoulders these activities (and more) without staffing and very little funding. Wills now proposes (for blatantly personal reasons) to cut over half of my operational funding. To this end, I would ask, why? How will this action grow our tax base to fund staff, equipment and projects? What is the Wills plan for economic development? Why would anyone on the Council support this action?

This action will hurt the taxpayers of the City of Amsterdam.

We deserve better.

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The following are the three, current designs proposed for the pedestrian bridge. Engineering and design work is ongoing. Expected completion date is 2015.

Alternative One:

Alternative Two:

Alternative Three:

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