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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

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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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About twenty-five volunteers of all ages came out today to participate in the creation of a mural on the East End. The first layer of colorful paint has been applied to the bottom of the wall; Lara Kulpa will be painting the top on donated scaffolding. Textured patterns will layer on top of the base design. This is part of an effort to turn this neighborhood around by nurturing the pride that these kids have in public projects (community garden, mural, and next, a mosaic wall!) It was a great day and showing by all. Everyone was patient, well-behaved, and very helpful. Thank you, dear lord, for the beautiful weather.

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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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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 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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Thank you to all of the good people that helped me, supported me, and spirited me through this difficult process.

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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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Thank you so much to the Recorder and Reporter Jessica Maher for this web interview. Please take time to visit the Recorder’s home page each and every day at the following link: best news in town.

Oh, and by the way, I misspoke. We have between 3,000 to 4,000 new visitors to our city website each MONTH!

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HELP!

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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There is more work to do, but even so,
I am proud to post the “befores” and “afters”.

The muralists will be getting together in the next week or so
to start the other projects.

The photos are nice, however, I urge everyone to take a ride downtown
for the real deal.

I’m tired, very sunburned, and very, very grateful.


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By the end of the day, we all felt like superman.

Members of the buddhist group that will repurpose St. Casmir's Church. Here, the group was constructing a peace alter. They hope to bring peace and healing to our community. May it be so.

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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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