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From: Gerry DeCusatis
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:22:21 -0400
To: Office of the Mayor, Richard Leggiero, Ed Russo, Ron Barone, Valerie Beekman, Diane Hatzenbuhler, robert spagnola
Cc: Susan Alibozek
Subject: Fwd: resolution request

All:

The requested resolution appears to be an attempt to direct city employees in their day to day actions.  The direction of city employees is an executive power belonging to the mayor.  This power cannot be changed by a resolution. A charter amendment would be required and such an amendment would be subject to a mandatory referendum.

There is no “legalese” that will cure this proposed resolution.

Perhaps it would be helpful if I were provided with more details of the actual events that this is attempting to regulate along with some communication of the goals of the resolution from the requester.

G DeCusatis

_______________________________________________
On Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 3:20 PM, Susan Alibozek wrote:

Gerry – below is a resolution draft requested by Alderwoman Hatzenbuhler.  The request stems from the removal of the fence at Milton Avenue, painting of murals on City owed property, etc.   There may be a Committee of the Whole at 6:30 on September 2 to discuss this resolution therefore if you can provide more legalese to the resolution it would be most appreciated.

WHEREAS, in the past City-owned property has been removed, used, painted etc. without the knowledge or consent of the Common Council.

RESOLVED, no city employee shall use, remove, paint, deface any City-owned property without the written knowledge and consent of the Common Council.

Susan Alibozek, City Clerk
City of Amsterdam

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EDIT:
SURPRISE! The Recorder editorial board does not agree with me about the mural, just as they hadn’t about the $20M re-purposing of the Chalmers building (that’s the empty lot on the South Side now), beautification efforts downtown and at City Hall (oh, maybe they’re on board now?), demanding fiscal accountability from the Golf Course, or about just about anything else I’ve attempted to change in the name of responsible progress.

I guess they are in the business of expressing their opinion (though the “news” seems to get mightily slanted by their bias). The thing that disturbs me the most about the Recorder is its persistent pandering of misinformation; i.e., that “HUGE” parts of the mural are lifting or missing (not) and that my attention is holding up the project (not.) The mural can easily be stabilized and repaired to a point that there is time for more improvements.

They also claim that I won’t “play nice.” How condescending and incorrect. I have repeatedly asked to have a group of interested folks do a walk-through to suggest creative usages of the room and discuss marketing the building. Throw fundraising into that scenario. The AIDA Buildings and Grounds Committee is disallowing our entry because of political reasons and personal avarice. One might wonder why the Recorder isn’t on top of that?

For those of you that have not had the pleasure of personally visiting (or viewing on my FB page) the MURAL that has been the topic of recent radio and newspaper fodder, I post the following photos. Please note, the “house” referred to in the Recorder is actually Historic Ft. Johnson.

This mural is on the third floor of AIDA’s building on Main Street. Through my prompting, representatives from the State Historic Preservation Office visited the site to recommend preservation strategies. The mural, original light fixture and medallion that had graced a prohibition speak-easy are pictured in the photos below. They are stunning and photos don’t do the space justice. The little money it will take to stabilize and keep this treasure pales in comparison to the huge gain we realize in protecting our history.

When AIDA made me aware of their interest in the building, I was pleased, as I had indicated then that the mural was to be considered an irreplaceable piece of our history and strongly advocated for its preservation. I had anticipated their cooperation in this matter. My stance has never changed over the decade since I first saw the mural or in the two years since AIDA had become involved.

Some comments by local historians:

“Had a nice chat with Bruce Conover, whose father used to own the building. The mural long predates the Seely Conover Company presence. In the day that room had been the home of one of the Red Men fraternal groups that were popular at the turn of the last century, so the mural likely originated with them, or at least that was the Conover family understanding.”
– Bob Going

“Once again, please satisfy yourselves by consulting http://www.fultonhistory.com under “Worley Moat” 4/25/1894. “Artist Worley Moat is giving the interior of the new hall of the Kenneyetto Red Men in the Morris Hall block a realistic appearance, now being painted to represent numerous portions of the Mohawk Valley so dear to the red men of years ago.” Moat’s father owned a brewery on Washington St… End of question I think, since it came right out of the 1894 Amsterdam newspaper.”
– Peter Betz, Fulton County Historian

That the AIDA Board is waffling about its preservation at this late date is a disgrace. They should have had a plan in place from the start, but it seems that planning is not a strong suit of the AIDA Buildings and Grounds Committee. The building has not been marketed and I have seen no evidence of an articulated budget or plan for the building, or any other of their holdings.

Unfortunately, this committee has also disallowed a few folks (realtor, historic preservationist, general contractor, city staff and me) from walking through the building to assess the mural and make recommendations about repurposing the room and marketing.

Just what is it that AIDA does, anyway? I’ve requested a Strategic Plan for their organization for years. So far, nothing but silence. How does the board progress its purpose and goals if they don’t have any?

AIDA was created as an economic development tool for the city, to work collaboratively with and strengthen city government. It certainly was not meant to be an separate, unaccountable government. I have requested that the agency supply the Council with all financial and organizational documentation necessary to get an exact picture of the agency’s true condition. I have been promised these documents by August 15th. I’ll update you as to receipt of this information. I’m sure you’re just as interested as I am to see what this group is up to.

And now, the photos:

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WORLEY MOAT, THE ‘CHICKEN ARTIST’ OF AMSTERDAM
by Peter Betz

When I read that Gloversville’s Common Council is considering once again allowing city residents to keep chickens, I immediately thought of Worley Moat, Amsterdam’s long-forgotten ‘chicken artist’. Because his story mainly belongs to Montgomery County rather than Fulton, I was almost ‘chicken’ to write about him, since, as Fulton County Historian, my general obligation is to keep my historical eggs in Fulton County’s basket. I hope ‘crossing the road’ by writing about someone who lived ‘to the other side’ of the county line won’t lay an egg with readers.

Two other recent events also brought Worley Moat to my attention. First, a local ephemera collector recently found and shared a scrap book filled with Moat’s artistic drawings of prize-winning chickens with me and second, Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane on her Facebook page recently shared photographs of some rediscovered 19th century wall murals of Mohawk Valley scenes located on the top floor of an old downtown Amsterdam building presently used by the Amsterdam AIDA organization which I and Amsterdam City Historian Rob Von Hasseln both think are probably Moat’s artistic work.

Just who was Worley Moat, why do we think he may have painted these lovely old murals, and what else did he do to cause him to be remembered? Starting a generation earlier, Worley’s father, Charles Moat, a coppersmith, immigrated to America from Hatfield, Yorkshire, England sometime in the 1850’s. According to a retrospective July 7th 1945 Amsterdam Evening Recorder article, Charles erected a brewery on Amsterdam’s Washington Street in the late 1860’s. The style of beer he brewed proved very popular with the many English émigrés working in the Sanford and other early Amsterdam factories. Charles Moat then invested in Amsterdam real estate and was president of the British-American “Sons of Albion” social club. He also served as President of the Board of Education, as a member of the Amsterdam Water Board, and as a village trustee, dying at 75 on February 11th, 1895.

Charles sold the brewery to son Walter on May 3rd 1886. Meanwhile Charles’ other son, Worley, followed a career path that seems based on his athletic and artistic abilities, plus his life-long involvement with poultry. He was first employed in the Amsterdam Daily Democrat’s Printing Department. Shifting careers, he became a member of Sanford’s rug pattern design team, probably a better outlet for his artistic abilities.

Worley’s greatest passion, however, was both raising and drawing prize-winning chickens, not surprising considering he grew up at a time in America when many very serious ‘poultry men’ engaged in breeding, cross-breeding and creating dozens of varieties of superior chicken varieties. Competitions at fairs and poultry shows, in which birds were judged via a very demanding list of criteria, were very serious business and significant prizes for breeding improved varieties were awarded. There were also a number of poultry magazines and journals promoting all this, and in these publications Worley Moat found his artistic niche as a sought-after, well-paid illustrator.

When I first heard of Worley Moat I immediately wondered where his unusual first name came from. A little research provided the answer. The NY Daily Tribune of October 1857 contained a tiny legal notice. Under the headline, “Nathan Worley, Cooking Apparatus, Plumbing and House-Heating” is found the statement, “The partnership heretofore existing between Nathan Worley and Charles Moat has been this day dissolved by mutual agreement, Nathan Worley having purchased the interest of Charles Moat, who retires from the business.” What Charles Moat did between leaving Worley & Moat in 1857 and appearing in Amsterdam circa 1867 doesn’t matter: Worley’s first name was obviously derived from his father’s former partner’s last name, probably given as a sign of affection and appreciation of Nathan Worley.

On January 28 1919, the Amsterdam Recorder published an old photograph taken in 1874. Among other early buildings shown is Moat’s Washington Street Brewery. In the foreground is a large brewery delivery wagon showing several men including Worley Moat. On June 17th 1939, it published a photograph taken in 1887 that also includes Worley, showing members of the J.D. Serviss Steamer and Hose Company, which frequently placed first against other hose companies around the state in running competitions. These were all proud, athletic young men in their absolute prime, stripped down to the bare essentials of what was then acceptable male clothing, white tights with black trunks, deadly serious about the business of “running out line and connecting nozzles” with their hose truck faster than their challengers.

Earlier on September 10 1884, the Amsterdam Daily Democrat headlined, “Victorious Once More”, declaring, “When the 6:35 train on the Central shot into the station last night, Worley Moat stood on top of the first car waving a small banner like a crazy man. In five minutes, more than 200 persons had swarmed off the train and up Main Street escorted by the Thirteenth Brigade Band to the Service Company’s house. Service Hose Company has returned victorious from a running contest for the third time within as many weeks.”

Other notices point to Worley Moat’s athletic abilities. On March 28 1930 Hugh Donlon in his Recorder column recalled, “It was only by a slender margin that Lincoln Eldredge, foreman of our composing room, lost a foot contest 45 years ago to Worley Moat, thereby depriving himself of glory and the newspaper editor who backed him of his ten dollars.” Another reference refers to Moat as “among the best oarsmen on the Mohawk River.” Yet a third notes that during July 1905, Moat and a companion, Peter Doran, lost a bet and had to walk from Fonda back to Amsterdam. He was also, of course, a member of the Amsterdam Wheelmen’s Club. Who during the 1890’s wasn’t?

Returning to our chicken saga, the earliest newspaper reference to Worley Moat appears on September 9th 1883 when he was 26 years old: he is listed as receiving First and Second Prize for his ‘Dominique’ variety leghorns at the New York State Fair.

But what connects local artist Moat with the recently-rediscovered murals painted on the walls of downtown Amsterdam’s AIDA building’s top floor? As usual, it’s just a matter of research. The connection is made with the discovery of an Amsterdam Recorder article printed April 25, 1894. “Artist Worley Moat is giving the interior of the new hall of the Kenneyetto Tribe of Redmen in the Morris Hall block a realistic appearance, now being painted to represent numerous portions of the Mohawk Valley which were so dear to the red men of many years ago,” exactly what the rediscovered murals show.

Worley Moat died prematurely aged only 51 on July 26th 1908. His passing received generous coverage in the Amsterdam Evening Recorder when he accidently fell down the stairs in his home at 131 Market Street, breaking his neck. His daughter Dolly discovered him at the bottom of the stairway in the morning. Reviewing his life, the Recorder reporter concluded, “A lover of poultry, he painted original sketches of first class birds used in leading poultry journals.” Worley, his wife and daughter are buried in Amsterdam’s Green Hill Cemetery, and no, his grave marker does not have a stone chicken carved on it.

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To all of the wailing and negative curmudgeons that said converting this plot of land below City Hall into a rose garden to save the retaining walls was a tremendous waste of money, this is what it looked like today.

It isn’t even in full bloom yet… and yet, it is fully magnificent with blooms.

I do hereby commit myself to making as many similar, small, significant changes to this City as I may during my time here. Peace out.

Double click on any image to enlarge.

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A Prayer among Friends

Among other wonders of our lives, we are alive
with one another, we walk here
in the light of this unlikely world
that isn’t ours for long.
May we spend generously
the time we are given.
May we enact our responsibilities
as thoroughly as we enjoy
our pleasures. May we see with clarity,
may we seek a vision
that serves all beings, may we honor
the mystery surpassing our sight,
and may we hold in our hands
the gift of good work
and bear it forth whole, as we
were borne forth by a power we praise
to this one Earth, this homeland of all we love.

– John Daniel, from Of Earth. © Lost Horse Press, 2012.

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before and after

New mural at Vet’s Field. 🙂

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More to do, but here’s today’s latest update to the mural.

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The Board of Trustees of Amsterdam Creative Connections is pleased to announce that the cultural arts center initiative has made marked progress in recent weeks with formal adoption of articles of incorporation, application process underway for non-profit status and scheduling of the center’s initial series of special events including the LINK Art Show/Sale on August 18th from 6-10PM at Riverlink Park, Amsterdam.

The initial advisory committee had been charged with steering the formation of a cultural arts center and investigated the option of a city-run operation. With budgetary constraints realized, the advisory board offered the solution of incorporating as a private foundation by which to support the operations of a center in conjunction with the municipality so as to enable private fundraising, grant writing and membership campaigns.

The community’s efforts are also much lauded in the participation of the center’s naming contest. While “Creative Canvass” had been the initial selection, it became apparent that the name might have caused a trademark conflict with another agency. As such, the Board, in an attempt to respect the community’s initial suggestions amended the name for corporate filing to Amsterdam Creative Connections, which also pays deference to the centers vision “to inspire creative connection and spark community arts expression in a collaborative environment for the enrichment and unification of the community at large.”

Creative Connections will utilize space in partnership with the City of Amsterdam at 303- 305 East Main Street, providing compensation for utilities once operations have commenced. As the initiative maintains self-sufficiency, possibilities of location may warrant purchase of present space or even securing a larger venue based on success of operations.

The board of trustees represents a dynamic grouping of the community with a myriad of personal and professional attributes, whose sole purpose is to promote the vision and mission of Creative Connections in a positive and engaging atmosphere. Members include Thom Georgia, Julia Caro, Janet Tanguay, Gail Talmadge, Patrice Vivirito, Jessica Murray and Mandi Bornt.

Board President Thom Georgia is the former Director of the NYS Library Technology Opportunity Program at the Amsterdam Library.

Board Vice President Julia Caro presently serves as the Community Development Initiative Director for Centro Civico.

Janet Tanguay is a mixed media artist and Owner/Chief Creativity Coach at Art n Soul, Inc representing over 100 artists and works as Entrepreneurship Manager at the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Jessica Murray is a mixed-media artist, painting instructor, serves as President/Co-founder of the Mohawk Valley Creative Alliance and works professionally as a legal assistant in a local law firm.

Patrice Vivirito brings with her 20 years of advertising and marketing experience and is a former Creative Director and VP of Copywriting in NYC before moving to Amsterdam where she is now a freelance copywriter.

Gail Talmadge is an Artist/Muralist who has owned and operated an antique and design business and is also a licensed realtor specializing in home staging and interior design.

Mandi Bornt joins the board from the corporate business sector where she currently serves as the Outbound Group Leader for Target Corporation.

Mayor Ann M. Thane serves as an ex-officio participant to the Board.

For more information, contact: contact@creativeconnectionsarts.org
This press release was written by Thom Georgia.

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The kids and I went down to the park on Division Street to bedazzle the second side of the handball court wall, opposite the tiger mural. It took us just about three hours and about three quarts of sweat. The following photos document the journey.

Lines for play contributed by a new friend. 🙂

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For years, I’ve watched the handball wall at the park between Guy Park Av. and Division Street be tagged by folks that are far from expressing their creativity. They are merely vandals. Again and again, we’ve sent crews to paint the profanity out, only to be hit again the following week.

Mind you, Liberty painted a mural in the same park three years ago and it has been untouched. So my theory is, if there is something cool on the wall, the criminals will leave it alone. With that in mind, I drove to Lowes, loaded up on spray paint, and have started a new mural at the park. I’m pleased with its beginnings and am sharing it here. The beauty about this wall is the second side that I am already planning for!

If you’re interested in tackling a wall too, give me a call at 841-4311. The more art, the better. My hope is that one of these anonymous taggers will be inspired to put up something beautiful instead of defacing another public place.

The wall: start

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poem


The Old Age of Nostalgia

Those hours given over to basking in the glow of an imagined
future, of being carried away in streams of promise by a love or
a passion so strong that one felt altered forever and convinced
that even the smallest particle of the surrounding world was
charged with purpose of impossible grandeur; ah, yes, and
one would look up into the trees and be thrilled by the wind-
loosened river of pale, gold foliage cascading down and by the
high, melodious singing of countless birds; those moments, so
many and so long ago, still come back, but briefly, like fireflies
in the perfumed heat of summer night.

– Mark Strand, from Almost Invisible. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.

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kora

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she plans to do it again

Three for the Mona Lisa

1

It is not what she did
at 10 o’clock
last evening

accounts for the smile

It is
that she plans
to do it again

tonight.

2

Only the mouth
all those years
ever

letting on.

3

It’s not the mouth
exactly

it’s not the eyes
exactly either

it’s not even
exactly a smile

But, whatever,
I second the motion.

– John Stone, from Music from Apartment 8. © Louisiana State University Press, 2004.

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…when I’m gone

This is sentimental for me in so many ways. I saw James Taylor sing this today as an aging man fighting his emotions at the 9/11 ceremony.

In this clip, he’s the boy we all fell for in the seventies. His eyes, the hair, and now I remember, the relaxed confidence of youth… all so beautifully poignant.

I sang this to both of my children as lullabies when they were babies.

We’ve all gone through so much… this man, me, my friends, our nation… the words ring truer now than then.

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shred

for Vince, with love.

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There is something gracefully metaphorical about what’s happening in the Rose Garden at City Hall. Two years ago, this was a forgotten, overgrown mass of vines, saplings and crumbling walls. The panoramic view to the south was obscured and that side of the building was rarely visited by even the most avid of history buffs.

A year ago, almost to the day, loads of topsoil were delivered and we began planting the much-maligned rose garden. Naysayers decried the project as a wildly hedonistic, unnecessary expense, even though the foundation walls to the basement and retaining walls showed signs of considerable damage, cracking and collapse. We ignored the naysayers. We made repairs and improvements from budgeted funds for City Hall property maintenance.

The naysayers roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes! Surely, this project could only be viewed as insanely irresponsible! What silly fluffiness! “Shutter the place and sell it!” became the daily AM mantra.

God paid no mind. Seeds took root and flowers bloomed, several times in fact and far into the Fall.

This summer, a small band of determined volunteers continues to change the course of our demise. Betty Clough, Debbie Baranello and Karin Hetrick returned to work their magic with gloves, shovels, sweat and muscle. Ed Schyuler and Nick Zabawsky donated perennial plants to augment the already beautiful flora with specimens that will flower from early Spring until late Fall. The staircases that flank each end of the garden have been masterfully cleared of vegetation, dirt and fallen debris, unearthing a heritage in slate and brick that is amazingly preserved and artistic.

The pièce de résistance to this reclamation will be the mural being painted on the basement foundation wall. Where bricks have fallen away, a trompe l’oeil Tuscan landscape will vanish into a perpetually dreamlike distance. Methinks there is no room for naysayers there.

The slow, evolution of this broken bit of history into lovely, inviting public space is emblematic of what is happening across the city. The steps are small and incremental, but we are walking back out of the woods. Bridge Street is taking shape, Riverlink Park is expanding, water and road projects are remedying years of decay, the water filtration plant and waste water treatment plant updates are nearing completion and volunteer groups across the city are undertaking beautification projects in every city ward.

Bottom line: the sun will rise again. The garden(s) will grow. There is hope.

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poem

Question

Body my house
my horse my hound
what will I do
when you are fallen

Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt

Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead

How ill it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door
and wind for an eye

With cloud for shift
how will I hide?

– May Swenson, from Nature: Poems Old and New.
© Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994

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cool

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poem

Fall

Fall, falling, fallen. That’s the way the season
Changes its tense in the long-haired maples
That dot the road; the veiny hand-shaped leaves
Redden on their branches (in a fiery competition
With the final remaining cardinals) and then
Begin to sidle and float through the air, at last
Settling into colorful layers carpeting the ground.
At twilight the light, too, is layered in the trees
In a season of odd, dusky congruences—a scarlet tanager
And the odor of burning leaves, a golden retriever
Loping down the center of a wide street and the sun
Setting behind smoke-filled trees in the distance,
A gap opening up in the treetops and a bruised cloud
Blamelessly filling the space with purples. Everything
Changes and moves in the split second between summer’s
Sprawling past and winter’s hard revision, one moment
Pulling out of the station according to schedule,
Another moment arriving on the next platform. It
Happens almost like clockwork: the leaves drift away
From their branches and gather slowly at our feet,
Sliding over our ankles, and the season begins moving
Around us even as its colorful weather moves us,
Even as it pulls us into its dusty, twilit pockets.
And every year there is a brief, startling moment
When we pause in the middle of a long walk home and
Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless
Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:
It is the autumn wind pressing against our b
odies;
It is the changing light of fall falling on us.

– Edward Hirsch, from The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems, 1975-2010. © Random House, 2010

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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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