Tuesday, May 25, 2010

2nd Annual Nancy McHugh Scholarship Fundraiser

On Friday, June 4, 2010 from 4:00pm until 6:00pm the 2nd Annual Nancy McHugh Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser held behind the Lansingburgh High School. The price is $13.00 per person and you will receive a 1/2 chicken dinner, baked potato, coleslaw, roll, butter, cookie and a drink. This year Giffy's Bar-B-Q will be providing the meal.

For anyone who knew Nancy you knew she had a true passion for education and students. Nancy joined as a member of the Lansingburgh school board in 1991. As a member of the Rensselaer County Legislature she served as the chairwoman of the education committee. For nearly two decades Nancy strove to positively impact the lives of the children of Lansingburgh and the school district; and she did. Following her passing, the district created a memorial scholarship to honor her legacy and to ensure Nancy’s hard work and dedication will be remembered for future generations.

The scholarship will be awarded to a graduating Lansingburgh senior.

Please RSVP by May 27th to Theresa Broderick at 233-6850 or tbroderi@lansingburgh.org. Your Bar-B-Q ticket will be waiting for you at the sign in table.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Proper Inspections Require Proper Inspectors

Over the past few weeks I’ve read twice about a proposal that would lead to mandatory rental unit inspections in the city of Troy. These inspections, as I read, would be conducted by city firefighters. I’m not completely “sold” on the concept yet and I can’t help but question the logic behind why firefighters would be utilized to conduct these inspections.

For the past several years the Troy UFA has pleated to the city council and the Mayor to hire more fireman. Their claim is that the current staffing and coverage levels puts themselves and city residents at risk should the department receive several calls for service, substantial in nature, within a short time of each other. Honestly, I don’t know if this is a justifiable claim or not, but let’s assume for a moment that it is. The UFA has asked for 8 more firefighters, I believe. In the past I’ve heard that the cost of adding a single new fireman to the force is approximately $150,000 (includes salaries, training costs, etc.) I’ve also heard in the past that for every $100,000 of expense added to the city’s budget equates to a 1% tax increase should insufficient revenue be available to offset the increased costs. If there isn’t a sufficient level of firefighters to perform their current firefighting and EMT duties, how can the city burden them with additional duties that are completely unrelated to their specialized trade? The current force and any additional members that will be added in the future will need to be specially trained to perform these residential inspections. There is a lot of expense that will be attached to this plan. Let’s not forget that there is a union contract at play here too that details what the duties of firefighters are, how will this be impacted? And let’s not forget about the union that represents the individuals who probably are best suited to perform this inspection function, the CSEA that represents the members of the city’s Code Enforcement department. Could there be an inter-city dispute between labor unions over whose duty and responsibility it is to perform these residential inspections? Why wouldn’t or, most importantly, why isn’t code enforcement being considered as the inspection agent under this proposal? They have the training already and expansion of their department might be less costly than that of the fire department. There will be an administrative function and expense attached as well, who manages the database, code enforcement? If code enforcement were to manage it, why couldn’t they perform the inspections?

Now let’s quickly assume that that the rental unit inspection program proceeds as described at this point in time, in its infancy, and the existing workforce of firefighters now adds inspections to their daily duties. Doesn’t this now create a greater public safety risk should there be calls for service and firefighters are out inspecting residential units? I would believe so. So, this leads one to believe that additional firefighters would be a necessity, probably over and above the 8 already requested.

Public safety should always be paramount and that is why I believe the firefighters should remain focused on their specialized trade and not be lead down the wrong path by promises made by part-time politicians touting additional duties equal additional pay and equal additional staffing. I am not questioning the ability, dedication, or effectiveness of our City’s Bravest, our firefighters. I have absolute respect for what they do each day to help keep all of us safe. They have a very specific purpose just as our Code Enforcement officers do. The training and expertise of the code officers lend themselves to more effective and a more cost efficient residential inspections. Additionally, if one of the primary issues of these inspections is ensuring smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in place surely this is something that a code enforcement officer does on a daily basis.

As of late, government officials at all levels, local, state, and federal, continue to concoct grand pieces of legislation to improve or reform issues, but what they end up creating are cumbersome and confusing laws that ultimately end up cost the taxpayers more to fund than the perceived payoff. Let’s be smart here, government should be streamlining operations and reducing redundancies that are costly to taxpayers. I agree Troy needs stricter code enforcement, let’s do, but let’s do it the correct way, please… for once?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Troy's Wonderful Parks

One of the most valuable assets of any city is its parks. Clean and inviting parks are essential to many aspects of neighborhood development. Some of which include improving economic growth and sustainability, reduction in crime, improving residents physical and mental health, creating a strong sense of community, and supporting overall quality of life. All these and more are important to the prosperity of any community.

The city of Troy has over 20 municipal parks from Lansingburgh to South Troy. Many of these parks are little neighborhood pocket parks that offer community members a place to relax, bar-b-que, and include play ground equipment for children to enjoy. Growing up in South Troy I spent a lot of time playing baseball and enjoying the swings at the Canal Street Park. A lot of childhood memories revolve around that park and last year when it was renovated it ensured that many more memories will be had by other children. The Mayor and city’s Department of Parks and Recreation have taken a proactive approach in keeping these parks updated, safe, and clean for residents. These parks add to the neighborhoods luster and act as a major component in improving quality of life. Last year our neighborhood group, the North Lansingburgh Neighborhood Watch, began construction on a new riverside park on 1st Ave and 112th St. This was a vacant, underutilized, city-owned property over grown with weeds. We submitted a plan to the Mayor as part of the CDBG process. The plan was accepted and now the land is underdevelopment. Phase one was completed last spring and phase two is slated to begin at any moment and once this phase is completed the park will be ready for use. This new 112th St. Gateway Park, just as the rehabilitation of the Canal Street Park, and the recent upgrades our neighborhood group assisted with at the 112th Street Park between 4th and 5th Ave.’s, becomes the catalyst community improvement. These simple infrastructure improvements not only beautify the area but they instill a sense of community pride and spirit in people.

I have always thought that Prospect Park was the crown jewel of the city. The vistas and tranquility the park offers is second to none in the Capital Region. For a while now I felt that the park was underutilized and opportunity was passing us by. That’s way I was pleased to learn that this will be addressed soon and Mayor Tutunjian will be investing in improvements to the park adding to park equipment and by making it safer and cleaner. Prospect Park is definitely a unique piece of property; if you haven’t been there take a trip it well worth the time.

Many people travel far and wide to enjoy parks throughout our region and state, but with the unfortunate closure of many state parks maybe now residents of Troy and the greater Capital Region will re-discover the wonderful parks right here in Troy, close to home, and literally right in our back yards.

To find the closest park to your neighborhoods and for a complete list of Troy's park Click Here

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Uncle Sam Parade Activities

The Uncle Sam Parade Committee kicked of its 35th Anniversary year with a “Murder Mystery Dinner” fund-raiser. Over 100 people packed the Plesantdale Fire Hall the evening of April 10 to participate in a program titled “The Meatpacker Slaughter.” Attendees worked as a team to interview the characters that were involved in the murder of Samuel Wilson’s fictional grandson. The actors are members of a local non-profit theatre group which donates their time to help community organizations, such as the Uncle Sam Parade, raise money. They scripted and acted out the entire program while wearing period costumes to add to the authenticity. Actually, now that I think about it they agreed to “work for food.” For the dinner portion of the event the Parade Committee volunteers prepared a hot turkey dinner with all the trimmings. It was like Thanksgiving in April and the desserts were divine! But the participants couldn’t allow themselves to get too wrapped up into the meal because there was a case to crack! In the end the murder was solved and every in attendance had an outstanding time. With the feedback and reviews we received, there definitely will be future Mystery Dinner’s.

Rockin' Evening in Knickerbocker

As I previously wrote this is a banner year for the Uncle Sam Parade. A major announcement will be coming in the following weeks regarding a world renowned act that will be headlining the post-parade celebration at Knickerbocker Park. This act is comprised of three individuals who fronted three influential bands during the 60’s and 70’s. One of which is a recent inductee of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Stay tuned...

Miss Uncle Sam Pagent

Alta Reynolds, director of the Uncle Sam Pageant, is now accepting applications from young ladies from Rensselaer County. The pageant will be held on Saturday, August 21, 10:00am, and conducted in St. Augustine's Hall located on the corner of 114th Street and 4th Avenue in Lansingburgh.

The young ladies will compete in five age categories for the honor of being selected the top of their age group. The categories are: Little Miss age 4-6; Young Miss age 7-9; Pre-Teen age 10-12; Teen Miss age 13-15; and Miss Uncle Sam age 16-18. In addition to the winner of each category, two runner-ups will be recognized as well.

Please note that to be a contestant each young lady must be a resident of Rensselaer County, never been married, and never had a child or pregnant at the time of the pageant or while serving as a member of the Miss Uncle Sam Court. The last two qualifications at first may seem absurd but there are specific reasons we mention them.

The categories include competitions based on poise, personality, and appearance. An optional Miss Photogenic category is judged on photos submitted by the contestants. Each contestant will receive a trophy for participating. While the winners will also receive crowns, banners, and trophies, and the runner-ups will receive special trophies.

Miss Uncle Sam and her court have the opportunity to serve as goodwill ambassadors throughout the year by attending parades, charity and community events, and working with children.

For brochures and more information please write to: Uncle Sam Pageant, Alta Reynolds, 8 Bank Street, Troy, NY 12180 or call Alta at 274-7294. Don't miss out on being named to the Miss Uncle Sam Court during this milestone 35th Anniversary Year!