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Archive for the ‘public works’ Category

Good afternoon and welcome to City Hall. It is my honor to offer an annual assessment of the progress this administration has made over time and to set some goals for the coming year.

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The word “Renaissance” has been bandied about a bit lately, which is not a word I regularly cite in regard to our city. It is a word that suggests extravagance and romance. One imagines colorful medieval robes, mortared courtyards, writhing statuary, and spiraling baroque architecture all set in the rolling hills of Tuscany.

Not quite the picture of Amsterdam, NY in 2015.

Ours is a typical, twenty-first century, post-industrial American city that has experienced difficulty and true struggle over the decades. The beating heart of our downtown was ripped out, businesses and jobs fled the state, traffic patterns were hopelessly scrambled, and government’s frequent response had been to cut away funding for critical infrastructure, equipment and workforce. Amsterdam was vigorously torn apart in a physical way and the soul of this community tore in ways that have been ceaselessly painful and difficult to mend.

It’s easy to point out the trouble of past years, especially foibles of the last year. I will take a different tact. I see no good in giving ill will and dysfunction entry into a new year that may be recast into a time of faithful service, cooperation and most certainly progress.

With that, I will briefly highlight the successes 2014 brought us and plans for the coming year.

Fiscal Responsibility

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We continue to heal years of chaos in our Department of Finance thanks in great part to the diligent work of our new Controller Matthew Agresta. I cannot say enough about the tremendous job Matt is doing. He is skillfully progressing the many tasks identified in our Corrective Action Plan that the prior council, city attorney, Matt and I scripted in response to an audit done by the Office of the State Comptroller. He’s readily taken command of staff, process and remedy. He’s successfully shifted his department from antiquated accounting software to the state-of-the-art municipal system that will allow for prompt reporting and analysis. He’s recommended an upgrade of the city’s computer and telecommunication systems, and will see to it that the technological needs of city government are met. He’s overseen the dissolution of the insurance trust and is finally progressing the foreclosure that had languished in the hands of his two predecessors. He has been directing reconciliations of internal records, bank statements, and the general ledger necessary to complete our reports to the State.

Thankfully, it looks like we will be in good stead at the end of this process, with a fund balance that is trending in a positive direction. This trend indicates that this administration has confidently led us through the global recession at a time when State government has limited our revenues and expenses have escalated at alarming rates. These crushing realities have devastated other communities economically.

The most important quality that our young Controller presents is that he is a consummate team player and puts partisan politics aside for the betterment of this community. It has been a pleasure to have a partner that willingly takes up the mantle of his office and works peacefully toward the goal of making Amsterdam thrive. Thank you, Matt.

And thrive we will, thanks to the many hands that make light work of our tasks. We have a tremendously skilled workforce and wonderful volunteers that hold the vision of a restored Amsterdam in their hearts and put their backbone toward my next topic:

Revitalization

Not to be confused with a fully realized renaissance, revitalization is an incremental process that takes time, patience and extreme effort. This past year saw numerous projects implemented and completed that improve the physical fabric of our surroundings.

This is a list of some of our many accomplishments.

• The Reid Hill neighborhood received two $400K Community Development Block Grants over two consecutive years that allowed for interior and exterior property improvements of over 50 structures. We coupled that with several demolitions and road improvements on Bell Hill that included curbing and sidewalks to an active pedestrian area. This year, we will apply for funding for these activities in the Grand Street area.

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• Colonial Gardens and the Roosevelt Garden apartment complexes saw the complete rehabilitation of all 269 units, and 100 Woodrow Wilson apartments are under way. This reconstruction entailed complete renovation of all windows, siding, insulation, roofs, kitchens, bathrooms, carpeting, living space and common areas, ensuring attractive, safe and affordable housing to low-income families.

• The downtown traffic pattern rerouting has been completed without the “carmagedon” that had been anticipated by feverish naysayers.

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• Footings to the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook are in place. We will see this structure rapidly develop over the coming construction season into the beautiful, treed, pedestrian bridge envisioned in our Comprehensive Plan.

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• Shuttleworth Park saw the laying of the controversial new artificial turf and drainage. Thank you to Gabriel Paving and Contracting and the Amsterdam Mohawks for their extraordinary generosity in seeing that this job was installed by baseball season. We’ve also built a new deck, put new stadium seating in place and have constructed a warming hut by the creek for ice skaters, winter joggers and snow shoeing enthusiasts.

• Phase IV of our storm sewer infrastructure project was completed and we’ve just received $600K funding for Phase V. Over the past five years, the city has received $3 million dollars in grants to eliminate cross connections between the storm water and sewer systems, saving the city from costly fines while protecting our residents and natural environment.

• We’ve steadily progressed repairs to our water distribution system and now can report that out of over 1,000 hydrants, only six are out of service.

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• Citywide volunteer clean-ups in the Spring and Fall have cleared out a six year total of 24 TONS of litter from our streets, water ways and public spaces. BRAVO to every man, woman and child that helped in this effort!

Collaboration

Our partnerships with surrounding municipalities continue to develop. Several notable projects will impact our budget and neighborhoods.

For several decades, our community has looked longingly toward the Capital District for inclusion. I am proud of our growing relationship with Schenectady. This is exceedingly important. We have not seen such opportunity for shared growth or collaboration since GE had its heyday.

I’d like to thank Mayor Gary McCarthy specifically for including Amsterdam in a vision for prosperity along the Mohawk that is natural and familiar.

• Our partnership brought a successful launching of the Capital District Land Reutilization Corporation (the “Landbank”), which is off to a great start. Through this channel, Amsterdam has received $562,000 in funding for over a dozen rehabilitation projects and demolitions. Work on the first rehab in Amsterdam, the Julia Street property, will be completed before the flowers blossom.

• Amsterdam threw its support heavily to Schenectady in support of its Casino application once it was clear Montgomery County was out of the fight. Their award will mean jobs for our residents and hopefully interest from developers along the river that see opportunities just upstream on our shores.

• Amsterdam and Schenectady have been working with the Center for Technology and Growth and are proud to announce a $550K grant with Gloversville and Troy to design a shared code enforcement module. This prototype will track blight, out of town landlords, and help us to better address deterioration of properties. It may one day be used across the state or better yet, the nation.

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• Five capital district mayors have bonded together to take up the President’s National Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran’s Homelessness in the Capital District. Amsterdam, Schenectady, Albany, Saratoga and Troy are committed to fulfilling this mission by 2016.

• We’ve been exploring shared service opportunities with Montgomery County. We will start by tracking actions we already collaborate on and a full inventory of public works equipment and laborers. Some additional initiatives I have been proposing since 2009 include shared records management, energy procurement and efficiencies, labor negotiations, and GIS mapping of critical infrastructure.

• We’ve negotiated a sludge disposal agreement with Madison County to take the particulate from our wastewater treatment plant. This deal will save our taxpayers $125,000 in our annual budget.

• We’ve opened up discussions with Fulton County to determine if selling water to their communities is feasible. We know our water will enable economic growth further north and south as it has on RT30 in the Towns of Amsterdam and Florida.

• We just signed a solar energy contract that will save the city $264,000 a year, resulting in $12M over the lifetime of the agreement.

• FMCC, Montgomery and Fulton Counties and CDTA have been meeting with us to possibly establish a regional transportation strategy that services our communities in a cost-efficient, effective manner.

• Of course, we are proud of the success we’ve had in bringing grant money to our city. This year’s regional economic development council awards target City Hall reparations at $225K, the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook $325K, and the aforementioned city infrastructure repairs of $600K.

Quality of Life

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Across this nation, it is recognized that revitalization is spurred by amenities and attractions that enrich our quality of life. To that end, many, many hands are sharing in the responsibility for shoring up this city, and perhaps none so vigorously as those working to provide cultural and recreational opportunities for youth and families. W1shfu1:Th1nk1ng (especially TJ Czeski, Jon Sumpter, Casey Martin, Calvin Martin and Matt Moller) has played an integral part in outreach and mentoring to an at-risk community that has long been neglected. The women of the Creative Connections Arts Center (Barbara Neznek, Tammy Merendo, and Suzannah Hunter) offer instruction as well as loving, familial relationships to some children that have never experienced such caring. Danielle’s House provides welcome to the homeless and the school district has received funding that will allow us to address the nutritional and physical health of families that we had intended in last year’s “Reinvent Yourself Amsterdam” program.

Our recreation department has been at the center of much of this activity, coordinating events, spaces, and interested parties. Bacon Recreation Center and the Arts Center continue to be hubs of activity for fun and learning. We host basketball workshops and tournaments, Saturday morning play dates for toddlers, and Summer Camp to hundreds of children. We have an award winning 4H Club, community garden and after-school tutoring for any child that wants help. We offer free-swimming classes to kids at the city pool and free buses that get them there from our poorer neighborhoods.

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Our annual events are growing in participants and impact. Spring Fling attracts thousands of visitors to our Main Street and our Farmers Market makes locally produced vegetables and products available to a community that is hungry for this opportunity (thank you to Sherri Crouse for being a primary organizer of both efforts!) W1shfu1:Th1nk1ng’s Annual 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament at Vets Field commemorates a moment of extreme pain in our community, marking the tragic murder of two young boys, as well as the willingness of this community to resiliently push back with love. The same rings true for National Night Out, populated by our Neighborhood Watch Association members, families and many organizations that are committed to fostering a safe and healthy environment for our residents.

It’s important to stop here and point out how safe we are in relative terms. In fact, our statistics show that the City of Amsterdam’s crime rate is trending downward over the past three years and compared to surrounding municipalities, we are very safe. This does not mean we must pull back from efforts to manage wrongdoing. It means we are going in the right direction. To this end we have expanded APD’s outreach to the public via electronic media and instituted “Tell us Tuesday” regarding wanted subjects. Tips from this avenue have led to successful arrests. We’ve developed the animal control site, “Furry Friends Friday” which will assist adoption of local rescued animals. We’ve expanded surveillance cameras in the Five Corners area, reinstituted walking beats in problem areas of the City, received a $100,000 Homeland Security Tactical Team Grant, and are partnering in a newly developing “Crime Stoppers” program. We will fill vacancies at the police department and come up with more programs that bring neighbors together and encourage youth.

Other areas where we’ve triumphed are as follows:
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Sassafras Playground received a much-needed facelift from a group of dedicated volunteers and city staff. Rusty nails, splintered wood and vandalized areas were remedied and a fresh coat of paint brought the aged structure back to life for young families.

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• The GAR Park and monument dedicated to Civil War Veterans below City Hall was reestablished. The lawn now hosts an expansive flower garden and labyrinth that attracts visitors from around the world. The cost has been negligible to taxpayers.

Action

There are several projects we will aggressively pursue this year. They include:
IMG_8804Master Planning. Over the past few years we have compiled studies, reports, assessments and plans from various sources. We’ve generated the Waterfront Heritage BOA and Northeast BOA forums, train station relocation and waterfront walkway feasibility studies, the NY Rising strategic plan, a state-mandated Hazard Mitigation plan, the Fulton/Montgomery and Regional Economic Development Plans, the Erie Canalway Heritage Corridor Plan, our Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan and a couple of Municipal Golf Course strategic plans. This Spring, HUD will begin a citywide assessment of housing and community issues. All of these documents must be condensed into one cohesive executive summary. To that end, we will convene a Master Planning Committee to come up with a new guiding document that augments our older Comprehensive Plan. Some of the goals and strategies in the original document still hold for today’s world; others must be updated to address the evolving needs of our city in the 21st century. We should take this opportunity to think about where we want to be in ten years and what we may do purposely to achieve our desires. This will be an exciting and thought provoking process.

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• As the cold season wanes and work again starts up on the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook, we will press hard to market the Chalmers and downtown properties on Main and Bridge Streets. We are planning a late-winter event that will feature hidden commercial and residential spaces that can be the envy of the Mohawk Valley.

• The Concordia assisted living facility will be built adjacent to the River Ridge Living Center, providing over 100 good paying jobs and much-needed access to this type of care in our City. The hotel downtown will be revamped and a new business will launch at the FGI building on Edson Street. The collapsing wall along Dove Creek will be repaired and RT5 will be reconstructed to alleviate annual flooding in that area along the river.

• We are well into the conceptual process necessary to build a new Recreation Center. Renderings, cost estimates and an initial operational budget have been conceived. We are studying several possible locations and have spoken to a few well-known developers about the project. We’ve also begun the arduous task of raising money with our not-for-profit partners to make this a reality. We are certain that this project will be successful on several levels, not the least being the wellbeing of our youth and families.

• We are also looking to convert Isabel’s Field to a ball park and playground facility that will support individuals with special requirements, i.e., those with mobility challenges needing wheelchair access, grab bars, etc. We know that this type of offering would attract individuals and teams from across the region and would be a proud addition to our recreational provisions.

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• Just as every resident is responsible to keep up with the maintenance of their home, City Hall will see necessary reconstruction of several critically compromised areas of the building, including the back patio and portico off of the southeast wing. This is the primary seat of city government and protecting this asset directly signifies the pride we have for our heritage.

• For those of you that are aficionados of modern technologies, we will implement a mobile application available to smart phones and computers that makes it easier for residents to report concerns such as graffiti, potholes or suspicious activities in their neighborhoods. The application, used by many cities and towns across the country, allows administration to more effectively track work orders, set goals, and gather macro-data to support budgetary requests.

• There are many smaller actions that we will take to address our common concerns. We will be proposing new legislation targeting enhanced code enforcement efforts pertaining to vacant properties and restoration incentives. We will begin a scheduled program off employee training to keep our staff safe and secure. We will open up ways to generate additional revenues and cooperate with our partners. I hope that, in this Chamber, we will commit to respectful and considerate behavior.

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It is the duty of this government to reconstruct the tattered quilt of this community into a colorful, well-constructed patchwork of hope. We must take the torn pieces of our physical reality and repurpose them into an environment that is vibrant and growing. This takes sincere good will, ingenuity and willing compromise. I humbly ask my fellow members of the Council to work WITH me and do all in their power to see that we succeed.

Thankfully, we may depend on the indelible strength and charity of the people of Amsterdam to assist us in this goal. Together, we will must keep to our dreams for this city and provide the foundation for a proud, kind and prosperous future.

As Lady Bird Johnson so aptly put it, “While the spirit of neighborliness was important on the frontier because neighbors were so few, it is even more important now because our neighbors are so many.”

May we all depend upon each other in these times of change. Thank you.

Mayor Ann M. Thane

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Good evening, members of the Common Council, fellow elected and appointed officials, members of the City workforce and, most importantly, residents and friends of the City of Amsterdam. It is an honor and privilege to present my sixth State of the City address. It is my charge to inform you of the successes and challenges of 2012, and likewise as we look ahead to the coming year.

I’d like to tell you a story about speech writing. For me, I must have quiet and time to research my subject matter and come up with a structure for this discourse.

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I spent the better part of the weekend in my office, culling through a year’s worth of notes (anyone who knows me, knows I am never without my notebook.) At one point, my husband was good enough to drop off a couple of bottles of my favorite beverage, Vanilla Pear Seltzer, and spent some time meandering around my office and City Hall. This brought about a short discussion concerning all of the significant changes that we’ve made to the space since I had taken office. Of course, while looking over the various photos of my family, neither one of us could believe the changes in our children since 2008. These years stole my small children away and left in their place beautiful, accomplished, young adults ready to make their own ways in the world.

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The office and building have undergone huge changes. Walls have been painted; furniture, curtains, and carpets replaced; light fixtures upgraded; storm windows installed; asbestos removed and pipes re-wrapped; cabinets and closets repurposed; new offices and public spaces, including the infamous rose garden, created; as well as the leaking roof secured. The changes have impacted staff morale and the perception of important visitors to our seat of government. As “they” say, image is everything.

But there is still so much more to do. The building is over 100-years old and will need continued love and maintenance to realize its true potential. As many of you that own an older home realize, we will never be done.

So it is for this city.

It is important that we understand that the work of revitalizing an older, rustbelt city is a painstaking and continuous process. It is truly a labor of love.

In thinking about the drivers of this process over the past months and years, I have identified three areas of significance: Priorities, People and Promises.

PRIORITIES
Amsterdam has been proactive in establishing its priorities in its Comprehensive Plan of 2003, and since that time, has been nimble in responding to evolving need and challenges. We should be quite proud that we have been progressive in this regard.

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The year, 2012, was a year of great promise, furious activity and extreme heartbreak. New faces graced the Common Council Chamber bringing a new dynamic of respect and collaboration; heavy construction projects of all varieties changed our familiar landscape; and violent acts of unbridled ferocity shook us to our core. Everything about 2012 touched upon our priorities as a community and as human beings.

Sadly, government will never be the sole solution to the problems of our community, but we will always be mindful of our purpose: to provide much needed services paid for with your hard-earned tax dollars.

It’s been my observation that some folks are uncertain as to where these mysterious tax dollars go. They pay for your clean water, sewage disposal, garbage removal, fire protection, street and park maintenance, snow plowing, code enforcement, bus transportation, crime prevention, emergency response, records management, property assessment, legal counsel, financial management and employees to staff each and every department. City government is a $30 million dollar business manned by over 200 people. It is highly complex and is amazingly responsive, given its vast responsibilities.

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Its effectiveness can be seen in our rapid recovery from the devastating storms of 2011. In under a year, most property had been restored and new projects started. We have finished a complete overhaul of fire hydrants, valves, water and sewer lines, streets, and curbing in the Market Street Hill neighborhood, which had been the scene of horrific fires in 2009. If you recall, there was not enough water to adequately confront the fires because of corroded lines. Since that time, we have been systematically addressing critically compromised areas across the city and are now down to the last ten hydrants in need of replacement out of almost 1000.

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Our accomplishments have been many and, as we have all probably noted, this was a big year for construction. It was difficult to get from one section of the city to another without crossing the path of a backhoe, crane, dump truck or burly men in fluorescent vests and hard hats. Streets in every ward were resurfaced, most visibly on Prospect Street in front of the Clock Tower and on Bunn Street at the Middle School. The State made visible progress along West Main Street and around the Public Safety Building in its planned traffic re-patterning project. Assistance from city crews was seen on Market Street as they prepared over forty structures, manholes, catch basins and storm drains, for work that will resume in the Spring.

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The City demolished 39 abandoned structures this year, bringing the elimination of dangerous properties to a total of 84 over the past five years. We also completed the very large demolition of the Chalmers Building and finished Bridge Street with the addition of a parking lot that holds 45 cars for visitors and area businesses. We are actively seeking proposals for redevelopment of the Chalmers property, as it will be the centerpiece to our waterfront and downtown revitalization efforts. Its reuse is as exciting as any new beginning and we will not settle for any project that does not present a dramatic best use for this very valuable asset.

Across the river from that site, the State has produced an economic impact study of the train station relocation and estimates the project’s effect will be an extraordinary $45 million dollars to the benefit of city coffers. Coupled with Riverlink Park, the connection to downtown, the planned Pedestrian Bridge and new Riverwalk to Guy Park Manor, our waterfront will have the potential to draw hundreds of thousands of tourists a year. The Mohawk River will once again spur our rebirth as a vibrant upstate destination.

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Most of last year’s projects that I had just mentioned had been paid for with grants from State and Federal sources. The City has been the very fortunate recipient of over $4 million dollars for various capital projects, transportation needs, crime prevention, property rehabilitation and private enterprise support thanks to the efforts of staff like URA Director and Grant Writer Nick Zabawsky, AIDA Director Jody Zakrevsky, as well as Transportation Director Cheryl Scott. Our success has also been due to our strong presence in planning for regional growth as part of the Governor’s Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council. This partnership has inspired new affiliations between six diverse counties that sit squarely at the center of the State of New York. Of note, several private entities, including St. Mary’s Healthcare, Mohawk Fabrics and Embassy Millworks, received funding to purchase additional equipment and expand operations.

Of course, all of this talk of grants and money leads us to another top priority for our city: financial stability. Careful stewardship of our taxpayer’s dollars is a primary responsibility of any governing body, and this administration has been aggressively proactive in this regard. Here in the City of Amsterdam, we have been extremely cautious with our budgeting and have been able to meet the constraints of a state-mandated 2% property tax cap. We’ve reworked our water rates so that the cost of our system is more equitably shared, generating additional revenues in the tens of thousands of dollars. Our conservative approach to financial management in combination with our substantial efforts to revitalize our community have protected our A3 ratings from both Standard & Poors and Moody’s, ensuring that we will be able to borrow money at a favorable rate and save hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest over time.

Sadly, our new Controller Ron Wierzbicki passed away after just one year in office, but because of his attention to his duties, we have instituted measures to address bank reconciliation, capital project tracking, and staff training to complete the transition to the new accounting software. The Council has wisely hired consultants to assist in these ventures and has taken action to put a Deputy Controller in place, a position that is unaffected by the election cycle, to bring necessary expertise and institutional memory to the department.

Please, may we take a moment of silence to remember our friend, Ron.

While Ron’s passing was not expected, he passed after devoting seventy-five years of his life to the city he loved and his family that he held so dear. While his death is undoubtedly painful to those closest to him, we cannot begin to fathom the depth of despair of the families that suffered the loss of their loved ones in appalling acts of violence this year.

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In all of my years living in the City of Amsterdam, I cannot remember crimes that were so senseless or violent as the murders that took place on Locust Avenue in the Spring or in the fields of the Town of Florida this Summer. Parents lost children, children lost parents, families were shattered, and our community was instantly plummeted into an environment of shock and grief. It was the darkest time in our collective memory.

May we please have a moment of silence for the families and friends that have been so ravaged by these tragedies?

The passage of time allows us to reflect on what has happened because of these crimes. As awful as these occurrences have been, they have not been delivered without gifts. We must also note the tremendous outpouring of compassion for those that had suffered so terribly and the resulting activism that has marked our response as a community.

PEOPLE
These four murders launched the largest gang investigation ever conducted in this City to halt a growing problem. Because of these crimes, emerging drug dealing and gang activity was crushed and 22 arrests made. The information developed from the investigation opened intelligence pathways for the Amsterdam Police Department that will ensure Amsterdam does not become a “gang city” in the future.

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These crimes fostered new growth of our neighborhood associations, focused on resident engagement and crime prevention. We now have 14 watch groups comprised of approximately 100 vigilant individuals flourishing in all corners of the city.

Given that incidents of violence have captured the attention of our nation, the actions we have taken to protect our way of life here are as timely as the sunrise.

Now, when we look back at this terrible chapter in our history, we will remember the hundreds of individuals that came out in prayer, in peace, and in force to take control of the destiny of this community. Our reaction was strong and immediate. Working with volunteers from across every walk of life, the City, the Greater Amsterdam School District, St. Mary’s Health Care, Centro Civico, CASA, Catholic Charities, United Way, and various state agencies have strengthened their bonds to creatively address the needs of our young people.

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A particularly heartening result of these tragedies has been the emergence of new, young leaders in our community, only in their early-20’s, willing to throw their all into rescuing others from a path that poverty or neglect may precipitate. These volunteers, in partnership with the City and GASD, have established a safe haven for children and families on the Bacon Elementary School Campus. Calling their alliance “Wishful Thinking”, these young men and women offer one-on-one mentoring and shine a light of hope and inspiration for those that follow in their footsteps. Their legendary 3-on-3 basketball tournament at Veteran’s Field raised thousands of dollars for youth programming and they are now sponsoring weights training and league basketball at the school.

This extraordinary willingness to help one’s neighbors, however, is not new to our community. Volunteerism is the hallmark of our community. Every day, residents come to the aid of others through their involvement with churches, sports teams, and not-for-profit social and cultural organizations. We support our hospital, library, museum, marching band, veterans, seniors, small children, the sick and the unfortunate. We sponsor graffiti paint outs, massive litter clean-ups (in four years, residents have picked up over 12 tons of carelessly discarded trash), and countless small fundraisers for every imaginable cause.

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Thanks to volunteers, we had our Second Annual Spring Fling in May that attracted approximately 5,000 people to our Main Street and they facilitated our Winter Mixer in December. Volunteers coordinated swimming lessons for 150 children-in-need in July (sponsored by Hero-Beechnut), National Night Out in August, and concerts at Riverlink Park all summer long. Volunteers have launched a new Arts Center on our East End, and provided the homeless of our community safe shelter over these cold winter months. They donated our new Veteran’s Memorial at Veterans Field and saved City Hall from abandonment. Light Up the Sky and the Kristy Pollock Memorial Light Display serve as celebratory destinations during the season of giving while raising thousands of dollars for their beneficiaries.

It is not uncommon to hear the same names associated with many of these activities: Baranello, Becker, Brownell, Clough, Dickerson, Falso, Fedullo, Gavry, Georgia, Hetrick, Lisciki, Lyford, Maroto, Mihalek, Morgan, Naple, Peninger, Selbert, Serano, Smith and Von Hasseln. These folks, and many, many more, religiously show up time after time at any number of functions or affairs to plan, set up rooms, man tables, lend a hand and hoist the weight of need upon their shoulders. I am deeply honored to know these fine people and thank our generous friends for their incredible efforts.

They are responsible for the bright promise of our future.

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PROMISE
In recognition of the value provided by our marvelous volunteers, Amsterdam will join 155 other communities across the country in the “Cities of Service” initiative. Members of this coalition share resources, such as comprehensive service plans and coordinated strategies that match volunteers and established community partners to areas of greatest local need. Members also qualify for various leadership grants through the program. Amsterdam’s established history of volunteerism allows us to proudly accept this designation to showcase the benefit our residents receive at the hands of volunteers.

We thrive from our partnerships with others, on a personal level and as a municipality.

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In that vein, we will continue to strengthen our commitment to the students of our community through our governmental relationship with the school district. I propose that we explore joining the America’s Promise Alliance “Grad Nation” campaign. Grad Nation is a large and growing movement of dedicated individuals, organizations and communities working together to end America’s dropout crisis. A high school diploma is an important step in preparing a young person to live an independent, secure and happy life and to contribute as part of an educated, innovative workforce.

The Grad Nation program is interesting for several reasons: 1. Many of the initiatives being put forth are already being championed by the district; 2. It points out that responsibility for graduation rates cannot solely fall to the school district – community plays a deciding role in getting students to that goal; 3. There are grants for programming, informational materials, and tools to show measurable improvement; and 4. With the burgeoning partnership between the City, GASD, SMH, Centro Civico and other community organizations, we may have an opportunity to enhance what we are currently achieving. I look forward to discussions with the school district about this exciting prospect.

We will continue to partner on projects at a municipal and regional level.

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We will nurture our relationship with Schenectady as colleagues in the newly designated Capital District Landbank. It is our intent to restore the integrity of our communities by, again, combining resources to remove dilapidated structures and redevelop abandoned properties. Our efforts will open the door for our communities to reclaim, reinvest in and rebuild our neighborhoods.

It is crucial that the City foreclose on tax-delinquent properties in the coming months in anticipation of the work that will be done via the Landbank.

I expect the coming months to be as busy as the past sixty months. We will continue to press for our fortunes as part of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council. We will strive to bring new business to our downtown through the efforts of our new Community and Economic Development Department Director, Robert Von Hasseln. Mr. Von Hasseln is also hard at work to land a project for the Mohasco site and heavily involved in planning for waterfront and neighborhood revitalization through Brownfield opportunity funding. We will work with the State on traffic re-patterning and the train station relocation. We will investigate bringing the Waste Water Treatment digesters back on line and hydroelectric generation on the Chuctanunda Creek. We will hunt down storm/sewer connections and remedy them to avoid costly fines from the state, as well as demolish another sixteen unsafe structures.

We will consistently provide services in unpredictable times.

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As a city, we can be enormously proud of our course. In times when the world has been pummeled by economic instability, political discord and uncertainty, we have maintained a steady keel. This is thanks in great part to the planning we have done in the past, charting a map to the future through our Comprehensive Plan of 2003. It is now time to revisit the document, to set new goals for the coming decade. It is this foresight that keeps us on target and allows us to tap into various streams of funding from state and federal sources.

I’d like to close this speech by once again thanking the many people, both inside and outside of the governmental process, that make peace and charity a priority in their everyday lives. As Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, NJ points out,

“We will achieve great things if we continue to understand that the destiny of our city is shaped by citizens who counter the weight of apathy and complacency with courage and conviction.

This is the lesson I have learned from my friends here in Amsterdam, and is the lesson I wish to pass on to my children. Thank you all for this enormous gift.

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AUGUST
Mayor’s Report

Community Engagement:
• Community Task Force: Wishful Thinking
• Department Criminal Juvenile Justice Grant
• 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament – HUGE success
• 7 on 7 Kickball Tournament planning (September)
• Neighborhood Association “Meet & Greet” planning (September 22)
• Lois McClure Riverlink Park visit planning (September 22)
• Homecoming planning (October 5)


Economic Development:
• Interviews conducted for CEDD position
• Developer Luncheon planned – September 6
• MVREDC strategic plan – final touches for submission
• Train Station Relocation: meeting at DOT, August 9th – projected $45M impact
• Pedestrian Bridge community forum co-hosted with Amsterdam Common Council
• Land Banking Advisory Committee meeting
• BOA meeting: finalizing reports (East End, Northern Trolley Neighborhoods, Waterfront Heritage)
• CEO Roundtable Discussion hosted by Dusty Swanger: public/private investment and partnering for revitalization
• NYCOM Executive Committee meeting: mandate relief, training
• Hydro-electric study
• Waste Water Treatment Digester study
• Highland/Holland PILOT


Engineering/DPW:
• Market Hill water/sewer/road infrastructure improvements completed
• Market Street Traffic Improvements
– excavations nearing completion
– one bad valve identified
– State to start repaving in next few weeks
• I/I contracted, start September (need $90K to do manhole inspections)
• Traffic Re-patterning progressing rapidly
• Bell Hill: rebuild retaining wall
• Series of sink holes/excavations to be remedied in the coming weeks
• Only 19 hydrants out of service

• Interviews conducted: Codes – Wilkie Platt appointed

 Insurance/Trust Issues being resolved; accounting must be set up, finalize Delta/Davis contracts

Need attention:
• Capital Projects
• Professional Assistance: Controller
• IT Contract: County
• Dove Creek solution

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“Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn’t block traffic.”
– Dan Rather

Major construction continues on Market Street in preparation for modifications to traffic signaling along the corridor. The roadway will be resurfaced from Prospect Street to the northern city line, which entails moving and/or repairing over 40 structures such as telephone poles, manholes and catch basins. These photos show the changes begun at the entrance of VanDyke at RT30.

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It’s surprising to me when I hear there are people that live in Amsterdam that still have not been to Riverlink Park. Our premiere entrance to the City of Amsterdam has attracted the attention of travelers from around the world, sporting fabulous vistas from almost anywhere in the park. The first of many summer concerts will kick off on Saturday night, July 7th. Why not stop down with your friends and family, have a fantastic meal at the Cafe, and enjoy a waterfront destination that is second to none along the Erie Canalway?!

Check out what you’ve been missing (get up close and personal by clicking on any of these photos for a larger view!)

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It was a busy heavy construction day again in Amsterdam today. The long-awaited changes to Amsterdam’s traffic patterns have started at RT5 and RT30S. In the coming months, the State will create a two-way corridor in front of the Public Safety Building. Later phases will develop two-way traffic in front of the Post Office and bring automotive travellers back downtown.

We also finished resurfacing Church Street today and will button up Pine Street in the next few days. Keep you eyes peeled for upgrades to signals, replacement of substructures, and resurfacing of the roadway going up Market Street was well. Work to progress the pedestrian bridge project and train station relocation in tandem with downtown redevelopment and waterfront revitalization continues to be a priority. It’s gratifying to see the dramatic changes we have been talking about for years finally taking place.

The following photos show the start of the traffic repatterning project.

Looking east towards town from RT5.

Looking west on RT5 from the same spot referenced above.

Looking east from the Verizon parking lot.

Materials


Looking west from RT30 in front of the Verizon building.

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This week brought us necessary emergency repairs to the end of Pine Street at RT5. Approximately 20 feet down, an old sewer line had been compromised. The following are photos of the crews, equipment and massive excavation.

Road excavation and trench box around the much deeper hole in the ground.

Looking south from up the street at job site.

The large CAT is the piece of equipment being used to dig the hole.

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Thank you to Governor Cuomo and the Mandate Relief Council for allowing me the time to speak on the topic of mandate relief for municipalities. We are heartened that this administration recognizes the need for reform, and encourage this committee to recommend necessary changes that will assist local governments with the fiscal challenges we are currently facing.

The City of Amsterdam, like other cities, towns, villages, counties and school districts across the state, is heavily impacted by mandated costs that we have no control over. It is widely recognized that skyrocketing pension and health care costs only throw small governments into turmoil, as we must then look to eliminate personnel, equipment, projects, and programming to balance our precarious budgets. Cutting our operational lines will not remedy the escalating, annual expenses that far exceed our revenues.

Our city is a member of the New York Conference of Mayors, which has made a number of recommendations regarding mandate relief. I have forwarded the publication, “You Can’t Cut What You Can’t Control”, which had been authored by the Mayoral Task Force on Mandate and Property Relief in December 2010. The stance taken by this group is as comprehensive as it is intelligent and creative. I encourage each of you to read its contents closely and to courageously advocate for adoption of its recommendations.

As Mayor of the City of Amsterdam, a couple of specific mandates not addressed in the referenced publication have caused extreme difficulty in these trying economic times. We are faced with a large number of dilapidated buildings that are in need demolition. The cost of demolition is excessive because of state mandated requirements for asbestos removal, which includes certifications, notifications, air monitoring, specialized equipment and removal fees. We are paying upwards of $30,000 to demolish dilapidated single-family houses valued at $200. Large industrial complexes may cost as much as a million dollars or more to take down. Because of the condition of these substandard structures, the city has had to bond for millions of dollars to shoulder the cost of these actions, which increases our debt and tax burden into the future. Relief from these mandates would allow us to aggressively remove blight and tend, instead, to economic development, which in turn would build our tax base.

A second point of concern for our city is the cost of separating storm sewer lines from our sanitary sewer collection system. Even though the cross connection problem has been a condition that had existed since the system was installed and the effect of mandated actions on the environment may be minimal, we are forced to incur immediate costs in the way of assessment, planning, engineering, design and construction in the face of an economic down turn. This is another mandated action that will require bonding and cost millions of dollars. Recently, the DEC had imposed a building moratorium on the City of Amsterdam and surrounding towns because of these issues. Its duration was brief, thanks to the intercession of the Governor’s Office (again, I thank the Governor for his support in this instance), but the implications of this mandate should be noted. If New York is to be truly “open for business”, governmental agencies must work in tandem to make our state responsive to the needs of flourishing commercial interests.

To that end, cost/benefit analysis must be applied to policy changes. The fundamental question that must be answered in any mandated situation is whether or not the mandate clearly addresses an important need of society. To impose mandated actions without a clear benefit produces economic inefficiencies that drive up costs to the point where our state is no longer competitive in the global theater. The extraordinarily difficult economy offers a unique opportunity for our state legislative bodies to make brave decisions that tackle our most complicated – and politically charged – costs, and finally change the way state and local governments conduct business. On behalf of my constituents, I wish the Governor, this Council, and our State representatives the courage necessary to champion our best interests and great success in this endeavor.

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I just stumbled on the following video posted on youtube. The was produced by Saratoga Associates for the public hearings held last Fall. It presents three different visualizations of the future pedestrian bridge, as well as the new Bridge Street and Riverlink Park.

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For those of you that haven’t visited our beautiful Riverlink Park, you are missing one of Amsterdam’s greatest assets. There are fantastic vistas up and down the river, the cafe is stellar, there are concerts planned for Saturday nights throughout the season, and the park is carefully manicured by an attendant every day. Boats have begun mooring at the docks, sometimes as many as six to eight at a pop, and flowers adorn the gardens and urns along the walkways.

As summer swings into full regalia, we are swinging full-force into completing construction of the second phase of the park. Additional walking paths, decorative lighting, new plantings, and benches will extend all of the way to RT30 bridge. The playground will be relocated and a 12′ x 35′ recreation of the “Painted Rocks”, a significant piece of Amsterdam’s Native American Heritage, will be brought to life on site by internationally-renowned artist, Alice Manzi.

It’s bound to be a facinating time at the park, as we take another step toward realizing the dream of a fully-revitalized waterfront. The following photos document the park in its current state and the beginning of construction.

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Demolitions have begun around the city. We’ve collaborated with county crews to demo properties that no longer serve their purpose as shelter. Three properties have been cleared, seven remediated of asbestos and toxins, and twenty-seven more are slated for the crane this season.

The following photos show the process from start to finish at a property on Hamilton Street. The event was compelling – violent, methodical, and poignant all at once.

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Reconstruction is coming along on Bridge Street. There’s plenty of work to do until the resurfacing happens; substructure work includes new catch basins, manholes, sewer lines and water laterals, as well as placement of light pole bases. This will all happen pretty quickly as Tallum Construction machinery travels up and down the road from the staging site by the river.

Though this construction phase may seem tedious to those that frequent the area, the preliminary work necessary to bring this to life had been amazingly time-consuming and complex. There were countless steps, from surveying, designing, permitting, double checking, confirming, notifiying, approving, bidding, and purchasing to coordinating between state, city, utility companies, residents and business owners. It has taken almost two years since the designs were first delivered to us. I’m relieved to see the street in the apparent disarray it’s in, because it means that in just about a month, the project will be done!

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Thanks for stopping by.

Please click on the following link:
Campaign handout 6.13.11

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Bridge Street Reconstruction materials have been dropped off and streets marked out for excavations. Neighbors will be seeing activity started in the next few days, with a completion date for construction in mid-July. FINALLY! This project has been on the books for close to ten years. Many of the materials featured in these photos will be invisible to the eye when this wraps up, as water and sewer lines, valves, catch basins and manholes are replaced. We’ll all enjoy the new lighting, curbs, sidewalks, benches and plantings. I’ll be posting new photos as the project progresses. We’ll have to have a party this summer to celebrate (TBA!).

Pre-construction meeting: City, State, Engineers & Contractor September, 2010

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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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It’s been a long time since I’ve felt inspired to tackle these keys. Truth is, I am engrossed by all that we are working on, so rather than editorializing, I’m running a list of projects that are in progress as I have done in the past. Again, it is not exhaustive; it is only the work of my office over the past six weeks.
It does not include all the projects each department works on independently.
I hope to break each of these points out in detail in the coming weeks, time permitting. I am very proud of the progress we’re making and continue to enjoy the daily challenges of this job.

Financial analysis/budget preparation: Municipal Solutions

Engineering/DPW departments: supervision
Water Distribution: hydrants, valves, mains, lines and laterals
– Market Street Hill: flow testing/strategy
– DeWitt and Collins Streets: $400K replacements

Bridge Street Reconstruction
Chalmers demolition
City Hall asbestos removal project
Hydrant flushing/winterization
Brookside fire: debris removal
Demolition: strategy for upcoming season
Grieme Avenue Bridge: asbestos removal
Riverlink Park Phase II: new bids
Steadwell Avenue deterioration/remedy
Hero Beechnut:
– $3M plus interest payment received!
– Broadway odor solutions

Public Safety Building:
– ADA compliance
– light fixture replacements
– smoke/CO2 alarms
Road Program: strategy
Dock Removal: Riverlink Park
DOT:
– traffic re-patterning
– RT5 reconstruction
Transportation:
– stimulus purchases/upgrades
$13M in upgrades at the Water Filtration and Waste Water Treatment Plants: nearing completion
AFSME labor management: employee issues/accountability
PESH training
Engineer search
Every week, this staff also addresses a barrage of issues and complaints due to our deteriorating systems: water leaks, sewer breaks, pot holes, collapsing hills and structures, etc. They attempt to manage this as immediately as possible. It’s an impossibly difficult job.

Policies:
– workplace violence prevention
– vehicle usage
– credit card usage
Zoning: Local Ordinance rewrite
Ethics: Local Ordinance rewrite

Promotion:
WMHT Our Town: City of Amsterdam documentary
AIDA/Economic Development
– State Data Center
– promotional materials distribution/strategies
– redevelopment strategies
Center for Economic Growth (CEG) membership
Urban Renewal Agency:
– revitalization strategies
– grants

BOA: Waterfront Heritage/North Shore revitalization

Codes Department Supervision
– technological upgrades: Red Alert system; networking/connectivity
– operational efficiency, inspections, tracking, reporting
– review permitting fees

Partnerships:
– Rivercrest: 208 Guy Park Avenue
– Amsterdam Literacy Zone Partnership/BOCES
– Montgomery County Habitat for Humanity: Executive Committee: PR Chair
– NYCOM Executive Committee: Finance Committee Chair
– Mayors of Montgomery County/MCCC
– NYSERDA seminar
– Annual Latino Upstate Summit: Centro Civico
– Crime Committee: discoveries
GASD:
– political science classes
– Roccastrada partnership

Neighborhood Association/Watch: organization

Downtown:
– RFP: grant facilitator
– Windows on Main

Beautification:
– Muralists: one mural complete, three others started
– 3,200 Flower Bulbs planted
– Markets St/Rt5 Island cleaned up

City Hall Relocation Committee

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The following is in response to a letter to the editor printed on September 16th in the Recorder.

1. The rose garden belongs to every taxpayer in the City of Amsterdam, as does City Hall.

2. The Mayor’s office does not keep the records that were FOIA’d for.

3. The project was legally bid out.

4. It is the Common Council, not the Mayor, that controls spending through the budgetary process. No department may spend outside of their allotted funds without approval of the Council. The monies in the line for upkeep of the building and grounds are allotted by the budget committee. The line is not further broken down into building or grounds and is expended at the discretion of administration once provided.

5. The garden lot was cleared because vegetation was destroying the property. The trees were cut down by hand over a three day period in 2009 by seasonal workers. They were unable to remove the roots, which were tearing up the building foundation, retaining walls and steps.

6. When the vegetation began to grow back this year, it was determined that the best course of action was to hire the work out, as our DPW crews have been working to maintain our crumbling water distribution, sewer and street systems and would not be able to attend to the lot expeditiously.

7. Once the lot had been cleared, the thought had been to put in a community garden. Members of the Historic Preservation Committee felt strongly that the lot should be restored as a rose garden, as it had been in the early 1900’s. I followed their urging.

8. The roses were purchased on sale in June from a city-owned business. They were less than half the cost they had originally been marked, just $288 for 24 mature bushes. They are now on their second bloom and are all doing very well. The bridge urns were restored and are located on a 6′ x 15′ rectangle in the middle of the lot made of pavers. The pavers were put into place by the City Mason in a couple of hours.

9. Realistically, it will take one to four years for a relocation committee to gather information, do cost/benefit analysis (stay/go), make a decision and move City Hall, in the unlikelihood that that is what ends up happening. I say this because this has been discussed every four or five years for decades and city government is still in place.

It is irresponsible to let the property decline while this is rehashed yet again. We are removing asbestos from the basement that was identified as a health risk a decade ago. With a very limited budget, we have painted the interior, refurbished an outbuilding, offices and closets, repaired drainage, refinished stairways, carpeted, and continue to make cosmetic improvements to the building and grounds. I have repeatedly asked for funding to repair the roof, gutters, porticos, windows and back patio, but apparently we don’t attend to larger projects until there is an emergency, much like the boiler during the Emanuele administration. That project had been identified well before it became a high cost repair.

If blight is the biggest complaint of our residents, is it appropriate to allow City Hall, our proud seat of government, to fall into a state of disrepair? Shouldn’t we serve as an example to the rest of our property owners as to the importance of property maintenance and historic preservation?

10. This administration has not been spending uncontrollably. To the contrary, operations are run prudently and we’ve made progress in strengthening our fortunes. We’ve garnered a larger percentage of sales tax from the County than any previous administration, which amounts to at least another $500K a year in our budget, and our bond rating is exemplary.

The fact is, city fund balance has diminished because of rising costs associated with contractual obligations, health care and retiree benefits, and state mandates. This coincides with the global economic crisis. We are not alone in our trials – almost every village, town, city, county and state in the Country feels the effects of these difficult financial times.

If we are to achieve our vision for a prosperous and stable future, we need thoughtful debate, resourceful activity and intelligent suggestions. Attention to matters as trivial as roses at City Hall (though stopping to smell them is encouraged) only leads us off of the path we need to walk.


“Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.”
~ Robert Schuller

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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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