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Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations
Meeting Minutes for September 8, 1999

1. Introductions

2. Minutes:
June minutes were distributed and will be voted on at the October meeting.

3. Communications/Announcements
Two separate newspaper articles were in the Gazette. One about Corning Homes and the other about Park South NA and its pocket park..
Charter School articles circulated.
Albany Public Library announcements distributed.
Y2k Information Meeting cosponsored by several NA’s on September 9 at Sheehy Palmer Post VFW.
City Civil Service job announcements circulated.
Zoning Board hearing announcements circulated.
CANA is now in possession of one copy of the Albany City School District Facilities Development Plan. Contact Marggie Skinner at 489-5311 to borrow the report.
CANA Membership dues applications sent out. Two dues checks received thus far.

4. Committee Reports
a. SUNY Community Relations
This committee is meeting at the same time as CANA this month. A report will be submitted next month.
b. Community Police Council- Mary Connair, Craig Waltz, Emily Grisom
A copy of the Neighborhood Association referral form, designed for citizens to communicate crime related and quality of life concerns and feedback to the APD, was circulated. One person in each NA is designated to collect the forms and that person will forward them to the beat cop or lieutenant. Feedback will be provided to the designated neighborhood person when action is taken. CANA will mail a copy of the form to all CANA members.

At the June meeting of the Community Police Council, the Albany Police Department announced that it would begin a program of focused neighborhood-based enforcement and quality of life effort. The program will focus on 4-6 block areas in different neighborhoods in the city. Each neighborhood campaign will last several days, will engage all three shifts, and will enlist the cooperation of all APD units as well as other agencies. Questions regarding this initiative should be directed to Assistant Chief David Epting at South Station / Headquarters.

c. Schools
No report.

d. Budget
CANA received a response from the City Comptroller Nancy Burton regarding our concerns about the content and format of the city budget document. Enclosed in the letter was a table showing debt and debt service payments for the past five years; a table showing the total value of taxable real property for the city for the past five years; and a table showing real property taxes for the past five years.

The following committees will report at the October meeting.
e. Zoning
f. Census
g. Quality of Life
h. Permit Parking

5. Guest Speaker:     Anthony Capece, Executive Director - Central Ave BID
Anthony came to Albany from Canadaigua NY where he ran the BID for 4 years. The Central Avenue Bid presents great challenges and he sees a tremendous amount of potential.

What is a BID?
A group of people identifies an area that’s “in trouble” or needs marketing help. A number of issues might be present including the need for economic development, security, safety, and marketing. The BID is then organized through Legislation of City Council and commercial properties in the district are assessed an additional tax. This tax is collected by city and turned over to the BID. The Board is usually comprised of property owners and commercial property tenants.

There are currently 79 BIDs in NYS. The Central Ave Bid is comprised of 4.4 miles of sidewalk from Lark St. to Vatrano Rd. The Central Ave BID is geographically the largest in the country (but not the largest funded) with a $340,000 budget.

The BID is working on business development and recruitment. In the past year, the commercial property vacancy rate went from 76 vacant properties to 59. Capece dedicates resources to help potential business owners locate available properties and potential funding.

He started out last year by making some immediate changes along the Avenue:
Sidewalk cleaning machines
Since June 1998 his crew of 10 workers who are on the street 7 days a week have collected over 3,000 bags of trash off sidewalks.
Flowers up and down the Avenue. There are two employees dedicated to 300 flower beds
Seasonal banners
Lighting up Townsend Park

His current challenges includes a large study to define a plan for the district to address the following:
* the area is not a well defined commercial district;
* what types of business will work on the corridor?
* what are hubs along the corridor and what will work in each, Lark Street there’s a hub of ethnic restaurants;
* how to implement economic development, neighborhood issues; ( draft of the economic development plan due 9/14);
* can we bury or relocate the utility lines?

Questions, comments and answers
Comment: The lower end of Central Avenue needs help. Build another medium sized grocery store, something to replace Woolworth's
Response: The "if you build it they will come" philosophy doesn’t work. It's important to do everything at the same time. BID spends a lot of money on security but their people have no enforcement capability. However, they are the eyes and ears for APD. BID Crew is encouraged to report anything they see as problem. When a problem is identified Anthony meets with police, code, building to address the issue.

Q: There's a hodge podge of signage along Central Avenue. Is there a suggested plan for how the stores should look?
A: Yes, for Avenew2000 there will be design guidelines for signage and building. It's at the top of the list.

Comment: Entire crew should be commended. Encourage the uniformed staff for it shows the community that there’s someone out there. Sends strong message that somebody cares. Many minority and ethnic small businesses and they will be the future of Central Avenue. Active recruitment and involvement is important. Urge BID to oppose the demolition of School 10 or any development plan that would demolish a historic structure.

An immediate issue is Eckerd and School 10. Anthony has spoken with the developer discussing concerns that the building is important to people. Anthony proposed a possible resolution of keeping the building and for Eckerd to have the footprint that they want. The proposed plan would involve taking building to the east and possibly provide parking in front or even change the street parking to pull in rather than parallel.

Why all the drug stores? Where Main comes into Central Ave. at the old Key Bank there will be a Rite Aid; there is already a CVS near old Woolworth's and Eckerd wants the corner of So. Lake (School 10 project). The health insurance companies are signing exclusive prescription deals with the local drug stores- is this the impetus behind the increased competition?.

Q: Are they getting a tax break?
A: Not that he’s aware of. From an overall standpoint it's important to look at the entire block and what it's comprised of.

Q: Appreciate the flower effort but don't like them. They don't encourage use of the sidewalks. It might be more effective to work from the ground up and with the storeowners.
A: The flowers were placed 13 feet up to prevent accidents and vandals. Might be possible to do something else in the future.

All of the efforts (flowers, banners, and cleaners with uniforms) are done to make people talk about Central Avenue. It's a marketing effort that starts by people talking and thinking about their community. Most reaction has been very positive.

Q: Delaware Area NA is a C1. The best businesses are interested in participating and the worst businesses are not. How are you getting new businesses and how are you getting the worst businesses active?
A: Important to have a plan and enforcement. For example, to deal with a blighted building the owner needs to be informed that they have a certain amount of time to deal with it and then if not in compliance they'll be fined. Some owners don’t have money to fix buildings. To attract new businesses C1s can identify properties available, identify what type of businesses you want, search by SIC code (business identification code) using a CD-ROM such as PhoneDisc and then approach that business to come to your neighborhood. Multiple owned family businesses have capital and would most likely be interested in the market.
Q: What's the historic significance of Townsend Park
A: There's a plaque in the park that explains the history.

The Central Ave BID meets the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 5:30 at 176 Central Ave.

Minutes submitted by Sandra Thomas and Marggie Skinner

Attendance (9/8/99)
Emily L. Grisom, Sheridan Hollow NA
Howie Stoller, Melrose NA
Mac Mowbray, Hudson/Park NA
Kathleen Kearney, Hudson/Park NA
Clare Yates, Center Square NA
Aimee Allaud, Melrose NA
Chris Lindsay, Beverwyck NA
Harold Rubin, Center Square NA
Dominick Calsolaro, Second Avenue NA
Craig Waltz, Helderberg NA
Mary Connair, Delaware Area NA
Dick Carroll, Delaware Area NA
Bob Sheehan, Hudson/Park NA
Cynthia Galivan, Manning Blvd. NA
Marggie Skinner, Pine Hills NA
Gene Solan, Pine Hills NA