Monday, February 22, 2010

Garage Sale 'Cancelled'?

During last Thursday night's Finance Committee meeting of the Troy City Council I witnessed a disappointing display of self-important grandstanding. The agenda included a proposed ordinance for the sale of the Uncle Sam Parking Garage. Whether you are for or against this proposal you cannot agree with the manner in which Council President Clem Campana went about the matter. Without introducing the legislation, without any input or discussion from his fellow council members, Mr. Campana pulled it from the agenda and said he wouldn’t entertain the proposal.

This proposal has been delayed several times because Mr. Campana and the City Council needed to seek more information, which they received, and now that they have this information and should be able to make an intelligent decision yes or no; up or down, Mr. Campana decides to pull the ordinance. I hold no personal grudge against Clem, but this and other tactics from years past gives one the impression that there might be a personal agenda at stake here. It just stinks. Vote on the legislation, yes or no. All our councilman should be afforded the opportunity to perform their duties as legislators, not to have them hijacked.

In response to the actions displayed during last week’s meeting Mayor Tutunjian has now called a special meeting for Tuesday February 23 at 7pm in the second floor conference room of the new City Hall. Hopefully this time the eight elected officials, who were not included in the process of removing the ordinance, will be granted the opportunity of accepting or not accepting the proposed sale of the parking structure. But then again we are speaking of the Troy City Council...

Friday, February 12, 2010


With every passing day you can feel the sense of excitement growing about the opening of the new Dinosaur BBQ in downtown Troy. The recent series of articles by Tom Caprood in the Troy Record did an outstanding job detailing not just who Dinosaur is, but it also detailed the tremendously positive economic impact the restaurant continues to have in their three other locations; Syracuse, Rochester, and Harlem. And after having eaten their food I can see why. Most recently was during the Wing Wars fund-raiser for St. Jude’s at the Franklin Terrace, previous to that was during the Troy Pig Out and Victorian Stroll and after each time I was left looking for more. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view), when the doors open for business on River Street the line of hardcore Dino patrons and Dino newcomers will line up and down the Hudson and you thought the traffic at the Latham Krispy Kreme was impressive.

This is the excitement that has been missing for too long in Troy. I’m sure there are plenty of other positive developments still to come, but this is like the icing on the cake for what has been a long road to the rebirth of Troy. If you haven’t read the articles the links to them are below, as well as, links to the fan created Facebook pages.

Story 1
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Facebook - People who want Dinosaur BBQ to come to Troy, NY
Facebook - Dinosaur Bar-b-que in Troy

Unity House wants to do what?

A proposal submitted by Unity House to demolish three buildings on the corner of 105th Street and 5th Avenue in Lansingburgh in preparation for the construction of a 3-story community residential facility has been approved by the Planning Board, but with stipulations. Two of the buildings are occupied residential structures while the third, sandwiched in the middle, is a vacant single-story commercial property. I have two bones of contention with this proposal.

1. If Unity House moves forward with this project the city would be losing three taxpaying properties from its tax rolls. This is the last thing the city needs especially at a time when the State is pushing county and city taxes higher due to unfunded mandates and leadership that leads us to no solutions.

Several alternatives could be considered in lieu of their current plan. If they wish to be a part of the Lansingburgh community there are plenty of open/vacant lots and large vacant buildings available where development would be welcomed and the city wouldn’t take as much of a hit tax wise. This is a similar approach CEO took when they renovated the old Junior Museum for their new Youth Opportunity Center (just a block north on 5th Ave. of the proposed Unity House project.)

2. The building at 246 5th Ave. is a beautiful Victorian structure that purely examples the architecture of the neighborhood. In my opinion it would be a travesty if this building, that appears to be in great shape, would be torn down. It’s also adverse to a current movement in the city that is calling for demolition to be a last resort. I have supported building demolition in that past and I still do if it is absolutely necessary and it is not necessary to remove 246 5th Ave.

A better proposal, which the Planning Board offered as a stipulation of their approval, would be to keep the current building (246 5th Ave), and plan on additions and alterations to achieve Unity House’s desired outcome. Whether or not this is deemed feasible is another story.

With this said one key point that has gone unmentioned is what will be the end use of this, large-three story building in the heart of a residential area in the Burgh. Law prohibits the City to disclose the use of the building, which is very frustrating when considering whether or not the end use is suitable for the surrounding community. Several years ago when Whitney Young Heath Services was selecting a location for their Troy facility they worked with the community to ensure the location was correct for the neighborhoods and for themselves. Now we just need to hope the Planning Board remains tough in ensuring the stipulations are adhered to.

UPDATE: Here is the a link from the February 18, 2010 Troy Record story. It would appear that a strong sense opposition is forming against this project. Click here

Monday, February 1, 2010

Netter's Fund to Conduct Anti- Drunk Driving Fund-raiser

Each year hundreds of lives are taken due to alcohol related accidents. In 2008, there were 409 alcohol impaired motor vehicular fatalities recorded in New York, 341 of which had a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher. However, each year this number is decreasing due to an extraordinary amount of hard work by national organizations such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and local organizations such as the Netter’s Fund. The Netter’s Fund was established by a friend of mine, Mark Balistreri, when his wife Annette “Netters” Nichols Balistreri was tragically taken by a drunk driver in 2005.

The Netter’s Fund is a not-for-profit fund that aids in the education and prevention of drunk driving. Through-out the year the Netter’s Fund and their 22 local sponsors offer the Safe Ride Program. The safe ride program offers free rides to anyone who may have had a very enjoyable evening and has no business getting behind the wheel. The decal shown to the right is on display at each of the following participating restaurants/bars: The Ale House, All Troy Athletic Club, The Black Bear Inn, Brunswick Fire Company #1, Daisy Bakers, The Fraternal Order of Eagles of Lansingburgh, The Franklin Plaza, Holmes & Watson, The Irish Mist, MJ’s on the Avenue, O’Leary’s Tavern, The Park Pub, Positively 4th Street, The Red Front, Ryan’s Wake, The Terminal Tavern, Two Brothers Restaurant, Uncle Sam Lanes, and The Veteran’s Club of Lansingburgh. Between each of these sponsors the Netter’s Fund is averaging 1 ride per day. These are outstanding results! That’s at least 365 local and responsible people who opted to take the risk out of their hands. For more information on the Safe Ride Program click here.

As a not-for-profit organization the Netter’s Fund relies on donations from the community in addition to their Safe Ride sponsors to continue offering their programs. On Saturday, February 27 they will be conducting their 4th Annual Bowl-A-Thon fund-raiser at the Uncle Sam Lanes in downtown Troy. They are asking for teams of 4 people to pre-register ASAP to ensure you don't miss out. Currently, there are only 7 lanes remaining of the 26 available. Registration costs are $15 per person, again all the proceeds benefit the Netter’s Fund. Click Here for the Bowl-a-Thon flyer or click here is you’re interested in being a sponsor of this event. Even if you’re not a bowler you are welcome to stop and show your support for this outstanding organization.

At one point or another in our lives, drinking and driving will hit home, it may be a friend or family member that receives a DUI or by experiencing something as tragic as a death. No matter how you look at it, it becomes a life altering experience. This is one decision that each of us has complete control over. It may sound clique, but don’t become a statistic; please don’t drink and drive.

For more information on the Netters Fund visit their website