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Quality of Life Letter

Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations
Meeting Minutes for April 7, 1999

1. Introductions

2. Minutes: Dan Potter moved to accept the March minutes as submitted. Seconded by Colin McKnight. Motion approved.

3. Communications/Announcements
Marggie Skinner wrote to Jeff Cannell and Judy Rosen, Albany Public Library, thanking them for speaking at the March meeting and repeating our request that the library extend hours to 9 p.m. Jeff Cannell announced that the meeting rooms at Main Library will be available some evenings until 9 p.m. He invited CANA to hold its meetings there.
Women’s Health Expo May 3-4 Empire State Plaza by The American College or Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 436-3461
Georgette Stefans is available to address CANA and/or NA’s about the activities of Capitalize Albany. 434-2532
The following items were circulated: Community Police Council minutes, City Volunteer information, Albany Public Library News, DANA newsletter, Neighborhood Cleanup Schedule, Minutes from University/Community Relations committee, Handivan Schedule, Center for Disabled summer job information, ZBA Notices.
Pam Hallenbeck from the Albany Housing Coalition - spoke about the different projects and types of housing the Coalition provides. Single family homes being built on 3rd Street. 3rd Street homes approx $65,000 with off street parking, w/d hookups. Applications being accepted. Veterans housing - temp housing for vets whether homeless or in rehab. Tyler Arms - three Victorian homes on Madison Ave. Rent includes all utilities and all meals 7 days/week. Studio / 1 and 2 br apts. include heat & hw for veterans on DANA starting at $400 for studios. Rental list faxed to 120 different organizations and is free for landlords and tenants who are looking. Homeowner Education and Training Program - budget/default counseling, plumbing, wallpaper, monthly newsletter, training for homeowners. All can be applied for through the Coalition. Call 465-5251.
NRC Thomas Senchyna Award and Certificates of Recognition nomination forms were distributed. Deadline April 13. Call 462-5636 for more information.
Save the Date: The Sage Colleges 50th Anniversary Celebration on October 16-22. Sunday, October 17th Capital Region Community Festival at the JCA campus. Possible “Taste of the Neighborhoods.” Those interested or restaurants who can participate should contact Bob Sheehan at 489-0750.

4. Committee Reports

a. SUNY Community Relations
Next meeting will be Wednesday, April 14th at 7 p.m. at the Albany Police Department’s Traffic Safety Building at 526 Central Avenue. Planning for annual end-of-spring initiative regarding the special trash pick-ups and off campus student responsibilities/rights, update on the location of “Parkfest ‘99” (Albany declined request for use of Lincoln Park) and update on the new Public Safety Building at the University at Albany. Only one burglary during intercession (5 1/2 week break).

b. Community Police Council
Next meeting April 14th- voting on the first Police Council Award. Second Avenue NA suggested a civilian report form for the Council’s review. Chief Epting is contacting the Schenectady PD to discuss the form that’s being used there . Two neighborhood associations have called to offer financial support towards the community-policing brochure.

c. Schools
School Board meeting last night voted for budget to be presented to voters (passed with 2 votes against). Voted to change vendor for transportation- low bidder was a company from Canada ( 5 year contract with an out in first year). Albany will have its own fleet and buses can be no older than 2 years. Kids can get swipe cards for CDTA. Company will take over for summer school.

Q? Does CANA have a copy of the district’s facility development plan? Facility planning for new sites (conceptually) taking over parks and will have a tremendous impact on urban area. CANA should review and make statement. Marggie will contact the Superintendent and request that each neighborhood receive a copy of the plan that impacts their area.

d. Budget
Marggie sent Budget committee letter on March 25th to Mayor, Budget Director, Council President and Finance Committee Chair. We need to find out when the Common Council Budget Committee meets and we should be on the E&A mailing list.

e. Zoning
Helderberg NA has not received a zoning notice for the past year. Make sure the City Clerk has the right person from your NA to receive the notice. Clare Yates and Harold Rubin met with the Deputy Mayor and requested that the members receive training. Perhaps fewer citizens would have to spend time and money in court to have bad decisions reversed.

f. Census
The Federal Census office for the Capital District is located in the Pine Bush. Albany has a “Complete Count” committee: 30-40 people; six subcommittees. Jobs are available: at this time, to identify every housing unit in the area (should be completed by July). Next year census questionnaires will be mailed to these addresses, and census takers will follow up with people who haven’t responded. Call Larry Miller 465-0966 or James Baldwin 464-4042 for jobs.

g. Quality of Life
The committee held its first meeting and decided to focus on a couple of issues for which a process already is in place but needs to be enforced and people educated: appearance tickets relating to trash/garbage and loud car stereos. The committee requested that Marggie write a letter to the Mayor encouraging enforcement of these two issues be stepped up in accordance with his own desires and existing laws. Follow-up on cases where action was not taken - bring to CANA each month. Will meet on an ad hoc basis.

h. Permit Parking
The city has indicated that it will appeal the court’s decision on Albany’s permit parking ordinance.

5. Guest Speakers:     Asst. Chief Dave Epting, Outreach Coordinator
            Sergeant Jay Chambers, Director of Patrol Officers

Addressing issues raised in the Quality of Life Committee report, Sergeant Chambers told us that the APD has three decibel meters in use. They need to be calibrated every time they’re taken out of the station. When writing a ticket under the noise ordinance, an officer must use a decibel meter or the violation will not hold up in court. The typical fine is $50-150. What can the public do? -Get vehicle description and plate numbers.
Last year there was an unmarked car going around doing quality of life arrests.
Comment: When tickets are issued, there should be publicity about the number of tickets issues, names of violators and amount of fine.

Target patrols are starting. They will come in to a neighborhood on a week night and set up a traffic check point with 15 officers and road block. Send teams of officers out with warrants. Will put extra bikes out. 13 last year there were almost 100 arrests, 140+ tickets issued. This type of project presents a cooperative multi-agency front. If you want one in your neighborhood call Sgt. Chambers.

Q: While officers are booting cars, can’t they issue quality of life appearance tickets? Why don’t they? Many times cars are parked on property illegally.
A: If there is a car parked on a lawn or abandoned, notify traffic safety division. They will find out who owns the car, find out who owns the property, and give them 72 hours to resolve the situation. With appearance ticket police can knock on door and find out who is responsible and give 24 hours to fix.

Q: Why give time if it’s a violation? Why can’t you just ticket them without notice to comply? The law exists so that emergency vehicles have access to property.
A: Can’t tow from private property. Sgt. will look into this issue tomorrow.

Q: If a list of abandoned / illegal cars is compiled can someone take care of it?
A: Make list and get it to Sgt. Chambers.

Q: Why do private citizens have to make a list and why aren’t the police doing their job? Have appearance tickets been issued? The Mayor said that any city employee that normally deals with this can issue a ticket.
A: In the case of garbage, instead of issuing tickets DGS special crew is removing garbage. This is DGS responsibility, not the police. If an appearance ticket is given and not paid a judge can issue a warrant.
Comment: Nothing will happen until the procedures are followed and the citizens know that the city is serious. DGS does go through illegally discarded garbage to find out whose it is and issue a ticket to the person’s address.
Q: Is this the best way of doing it?
A: This is a mirror of NYC’s process.
Comment: Can’t have this constant trash on the street because it deters people from living in Albany.

Who is responsible at rental property? Landlord or tenant? We don’t need to make this an issue between landlords and homeowners / tenants. The mayor and the police who issue the tickets should have appropriate training and back up to issue these appearance tickets.

Part of the rationale of community policing is to have people on the street. Have quality of life forms for community police. DGS handles trash. Code handles code. Epting didn’t realize it was that big of a problem and will address with Chief Tuffey tomorrow.

Q: In West Hill people on the street often approach people driving through the neighborhood late at night. When someone calls narcotics, they are often told that don’t have enough information to arrest someone.
A: Call the NORTH STATION instead of narcotics.

Comment: Clinton Ave. signs are put on the house when garbage is an issue. Tenants are responsible for fines. There has been a significant improvement.

DGS is the expert. In one situation, a police officer issued an appearance ticket and the charge was dismissed. Now, three officers are being sued. The plaintiff claims that the police are not trained to recognize exorbitant amount of trash!!!

Drugs / Loitering
Need for the citizens to be the eyes. Call and say believe there are drug sales going on, with description of individuals and cars.

Q: Is it possible that meter maids be trained to take over some of the quality of life issues. (Asst. Chief Georges)
A: Already spread thin.
Comment: Need to let DGS know that this is a serious issue and that it should be addressed.

Q: Operation Weed and Seed - how well is the interface going between the Police Dept. and the community? What’s the relationship between various levels of police agencies city/ county / federal. How well are we accessing Federal dollars to increase patrolling.
A: There is good interaction among agencies that have come into work with the APD. Feds have been good about supporting the program. Extra patrols that are federally funded. We are taking everything we can get from it. At any given time between 50-55 overtime details a day out on the street.

Q: How’s the court system doing with the people that are arrested? Aren’t some of these people are back out on the street too soon?
A: Criminal Justice System is a revolving door. The more arrests, the more work on court system, the quicker they are to plea down or make less work. It’s very possible to do only 6 mos. on a 1-3 year sentence.
Comment: Park South does some observing in court. Someone goes and checks out all the arrest records, finds out when the hearing and trial dates are. Making a presence in court might make a difference.

Suggestion from a police conference about going to the courts - talk to a judge who is the normal person who deals with your community. Those coming from outside community and commit crime gets extra penalty. i.e. Going from North End to South End.

Minutes submitted by Sandra Thomas and Marggie Skinner

Attendance (4/7/99)
Dan M. Potter, West Hill & CDARPO
Clare Yates, Center Square NA
Harold Rubin, Center Square NA
Pat Hancox, Albany Green
Dick Carroll, Delaware Area NA
Mary Connair, Delaware Area NA
Robert McRae, Mansion NA & CDARPO
Maria Parisella, Mansion NA
Holly Katz, Mansion NA
Mark P. Yolles, Mansion NA
Colin McKnight, Mansion NA
Michael Trout, Park South NA
Cynthia Galivan, Manning Blvd. NA

Bill Patterson, Second Ave. NA
Bonnie Devine, Second Ave NA
Dominick Calsolaro, Second Ave. NA
Pamela Hallenbeck, Albany Housing Coalition
G. Mowbray, Hudson/Park NA
Kathleen Kearney, Hudson/Park NA
Bob Sheehan, Helderberg NA
Thomas Gebhardt, University at Albany
Suzanne Taiman, Washington Park NA
Betsy Shearer, Park South NA
Keith S. John, Historic Pastures NA
Jeff Cannell, Center Square NA
Henry M. Madej, Pine Hills NA
Gene Solan, Pine Hills NA