Friday, January 28, 2011

Report on the issues -- a response to what matters most.

I have received a good amount of feedback from a recent blog where I posed the simple question, “What matters most to you in Troy?” Everyone has their own thoughts and opinions on what could be done to better our city and neighborhoods. A lot of the responses I received via email and through Facebook had a lot to do with quality-of-life issues and how to solve them. Most of the issues questioned have some form of law already on the books. I’m not claiming that it’s well written, enforced, or even the solution to the problem, but rather that something does exist. First, I’d like to introduce the issue, provide a little commentary, and secondly, provide the actual law that is in place to deal with the issue for you to learn more. I have left my views of a solution out to keep the response objective.


Until recently the city’s curfew ordinance was not strictly enforced. Last year when then Assistant Chief Tedesco became Troy Police Chief, enforcing the curfew was one of his top priorities. Since then several curfew stings have been conducted with great success. Over the past few years our neighborhood group has seen a rise in the amount of nuisance crime and vandalism on properties and vehicles. Under aged school children have been pointed as the culprits of these crimes. In January Chief Tedesco was the speaker at our neighborhood meeting. He stated that the curfew program will continue and will be targeted at areas with the most complaints. If you believe your neighborhood should be considered for Curfew enforcement let your Community Police Officer know.

To better understand the limitations of the Curfew Ordinance click here learn more.

Vacant/ Abandoned Buildings
Vacant/ abandoned buildings are a plague for most post-industrial, urban municipalities. The empty buildings are a sign of the times. A host of reasons including lack of industry and owners to occupy them add to the problem, but primarily it's due to economic conditions that they remain empty and rot. These building are both commercial and residential. As a city you can only hope that if the building becomes vacant or abandoned the current owner secures it, continues to pay their taxes, and registers in on the city’s registry. If these buildings aren’t properly cared for they become major health and safety issues for those within the neighborhood and could negatively impact the value of the neighborhood. We all can debate what we each see as the solution, but in the day-to-day operation of a city we need to rely upon strict code enforcement to react to the issue. The city’s code pointedly defines vacant/ abandoned buildings and how they’re addressed.

Click here to learn more about the definition, fee schedule, securing, etc. You’ll want to read ss.141.18 through ss.141.21

Absentee Landlords

This has been a hot button issue over the last several years. These are individuals with little or no ties to our community owning and renting property without a care of who they rent to and they don't appear too concerned about the condition of their property. A lot of the issue lies in the fact that there is too much available housing in the city and not enough renters. To minimize the damage the property owners rent just to curb the loss they are taking. This results in a lack of care for the property and the community from both the renter and the property owner. Why? Because the owner isn’t making enough money to meet expenses and in turn not reinvesting in the property causing the renter not to care either. You can take this same example and reverse it to read, the renter doesn’t care causing the property owner not to either, but either way I’m generalizing. There are a whole host of issues here. No matter how you dice it the phenomenon of absentee landlords are a tremendous drain on our quality-of-life. But remember, not all are bad, some have great records and employ great property managers.

In 2008 the city adopted an Absentee Landlord Registry, to learn more about what it is and does click here.


This is another unfortunate reality that we find most prevalent in urban environments. It happens; all we can do is our best to set an example that this behavior won’t be tolerated. It can be found in our Alleys as I have discussed previously and it can be found on our streets. Recently, the Troy Dept. of Public Works instituted a litter enforcement program, for information on this please contact the DPW at 270-4579. If you haven’t read the book Fixing Broken Windows you should. It discusses the broken window theory, which as defined by Wikipedia is “a criminological theory of the normsetting and signaling effects of urban disorder and vandalism on additional crime and anti-social behavior. The theory states that monitoring and maintaining urban environments in a well-ordered condition may prevent further vandalism as well as an escalation into more serious crime.” This concept has been implemented across the country with great success. This was the driving force behind Mayor Giuliani’s take back of the NYC streets. In laymen’s terms, if a particular area is continuously littered with trash, someone needs to ensure to keep it clean and more often than not the area will improve over time and remain in a positive state. Or you can do as I did one day and personally confront the issue, read the blog post here.

As with everything else, the city does have a Litter ordinance, to learn more about it click here.

As I said these were the most common concerns noted. I enjoyed writing this post so if you have any other concerns or comments about the “issues” please send them over. I can be contacted via email at

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vote for Downtown's $250,000 Opportunity

It’s Wednesday, January 26th, do you know what this means?

It means you only have 5 more days to cast your vote for the Troy Downtown Collaborative’s Pepsi Refresh Grant. Why is this important? Because if the TDC’s grant finishes among the top two vote getters they will receive $250,000! With the Refresh Grant the TDC will invest in the revitalization of the Downtown by engaging the many students that call Troy home while attending our colleges.

The TDC states:
“We recognize that our small, historic post-industrial town will always have a struggling economy, unless we can tap into the talent and energy of our local student population, and grow our Downtown. Encouraging local business creates jobs and reinvests dollars into our community.”

Over the past year Pepsi has been rewarding community based groups with millions of dollars to fund betterment initiatives. In 2010, the Contemporary Arts Center in South Troy won $50,000 from the Pepsi Refresh Grant Program and in December the Uptown Initiative had a strong showing in their effort and they plan to try once again when the Pepsi program relaunches in March 2011.

Be sure to finish the month strong and vote every day. The TDC’s grant is currently sitting in 8th position, meaning it only has to move up 6 more spots to be funded.

Remember there are three simple and easy ways to vote:
1) Sign in Via Email:
2) Vote From Facebook:
3) Text 105518 to Pepsi (73774)

You can vote once per day over the next five days! Thank you for your support! 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Troy's September 11th Memorial

First, thank you to everyone who provided feedback on my last post, "What matters most to you about Troy." I will respond to some of your points, questions, concerns in my next post later in the week.

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Today, the following article regarding a September 11th Memorial in the city of Troy I wrote appeared in the Troy Record. To date our coordinating committee has been actively meeting and planning. A location has been identified and design is well underway. Both these items will be announced publicly very soon. In the mean time, if you haven't read the article it's below for your enjoyment and if you would like to contribute the information to do so is below as well.

Memorial Logo Courtesy of Ralph Renna

Troy's Treasures: Building a Sept. 11 Memorial

Sept. 11, 2011 will mark the 10th anniversary of one of the most significant days in our nation’s history. The events that occurred that early September morning will shape our nation for generations to come. This day has come to be known as Patriot Day, a day of remembrance. Each year we take time to honor those who were lost in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania; with those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country in the defense of freedom.

To mark this anniversary and to provide a lasting tribute, the members of the Uncle Sam Parade Committee have invited representatives from the local veterans association, police and fire departments, and the City or Troy to join them on a coordinating committee to design, raise funds, and build a Sept. 11 Memorial in the city. The committee has received the support of Mayor Harry J. Tutunjian and is actively planning and fund raising for the memorial.

In the days that followed that fateful September day the response by the general public and our local public safety agencies was outstanding. What began as a rescue mission and soon turned into recovery required hundreds of man hours to sift through the rubble that was the World Trade Center. Almost immediately hundreds of people descended on Lower Manhattan to lend a hand to the effort. Personally, I spent nearly 30 hours over the weekend of Sept. 14 working with other civilians and the US Marshals to recreate the infrastructure that was destroyed as the towers fell. Members of all our local public safety departments jumped to action and made their way to New York City. Members of the City of Troy Police and Fire Departments, along with many local agencies answered the call and for that, a part of this memorial will be dedicated to remembering the local response.

“We will never forget,” this is the mantra repeated in tribute to the tragedy. We will never forget the innocent victims, especially those who were members of our community in Troy and Rensselaer County. We will never forget the bravery of our young men and women who when called to war unselfishly put themselves on the line to defend our country. As a community and a country we have a lot to be thankful for and remembering, honoring, and celebrating these events and these individuals is just the right thing to do because it provides us with perspective. Why should we construct a Memorial because it is our responsibility to do so. We owe it to those that sacrificed and suffered, we owe to those who will come after us to help them understand, and we owe it to ourselves. As a nation and as a state we survived and became even more united. Wasn’t the immediate response of patriotism heartwarming? It appeared that every house on every block and every car antennae had an American Flag proudly on display. We will not forget these events and the September 11tMemorial of Troy will be a proper and respectful remembrance for generations to come.

Time is of the essence with less than nine months to complete the project. The committee understands the significance of this project and is committed to achieving each milestone on schedule. To properly mark the anniversary the Parade Committee has rescheduled the 36th Annual Uncle Sam Parade to the following Sunday on Sept. 18 so that on Sept. 11, 2011 they can host a memorial dedication and service marking this 10th anniversary. Between now and then, as a community, we have a lot of work to do.

We are actively contacting various members of the community seeking your support. The committee’s goal is to primarily fund the construction of the memorial through the use of private dollars. If you would like to contribute to the memorial please mail it to: The Uncle Sam Parade Committee Sept. 11th Fund, PO Box 109, Troy, NY 12182. The Uncle Sam Parade Committee, Inc. is a non-profit corporation with federal tax-exempt status under the provisions Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. A portion of the memorial’s design will include a memorial walkway. Individuals and groups will have the opportunity to sponsor a paving brick. The pavers can be engraved in your name or in honor or tribute to a friend or loved one. More information on the walkway will be made available soon.

For up-to-date information on the Memorial join our Facebook page at or to learn about corporate sponsorships email us at

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Let me hear what matters most to you about Troy

I routinely find myself in various venues throughout the community serving different roles while there. I started and still spend the majority of my volunteer time working on neighborhood “stuff” with a neighborhood group I helped create and organize in Lansingburgh. Everyone I come into contact with in the community has a different take on what matters mean most to them. Issues from the north may not be the same to the south, east, or west.

I’d like to open the communication channels and hear what the readers of the Troy Record and my blog have to say; let the thoughts on your mind flow. Tell me what you believe matters most in Troy, how would you get from point A to point B on the issues that our City faces today or in the future. This is one area that a lot of us continue to work hard at, getting our friends, family, and neighbors more engaged in the community they live in. Got a tip or a general comment, let me hear it. All constructive thoughts and ideas will be utilized to improve our surroundings. And please keep it constructive, no personal attacks or slander, this accomplishes nothing. If you do not feel comfortable leaving your thoughts as a comment, you may email them to me at

Thanks for participating.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Friendship renewed: Friends of 112th Street Dinner

I'm back and Happy New Year to everyone!

We are just little over a month away from one of the biggest fund raising events held annually in the city of Troy. The Friends of 112th Street will be holding their annual dinner party, which they have been doing since 1978.

On Saturday February 26, 2011 the committee and hundreds of community members will renew their friendship at the St. Augustine Hall. I have personally attended this event for a number of years and let me say its one most entertaining events you’ll have the opportunity to be a part of. For a $35 donation you will receive a dinner and beverages, and a show unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The committee puts on skits while roasting each other and everyone else that might appear on their radar. It is a hilariously fun time. Additionally, each year members of the community are honored for contributions and achievements they have made. The committee honors: a Man of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Veteran Awards, and Sports Awards.

As I previously mentioned this is a fund raiser with the proceeds from the event returned to the community. The Friends of 112th Street have supported and donated to community based programs, events, and individuals who have experienced a tragic event in their lives such as being displaced by a fire.

I would encourage you to visit for more information and to learn how to purchase tickets for the event. You will want to buy them soon because each year the event sells out well in advance of the party. And I’m sorry to say ladies, but only men are invited to attend the event. I didn’t make this rule up so please don’t hold anything against me. This is a great evening that serves a great purpose.