Letter to the Editor, the Convention Center is a White Elephant
Published on 1/27/2008 by the Times Union
January 27, 2008
Albany, New York 12212
It is now time for the white elephant, more commonly referred to as the Albany Convention Center to be put out to pasture. The headline on Fred LeBrun's January 27 column says it all, "Convention center by the numbers: $397M, 5 years, 1 man". The original proposal for the convention center had financing in place for a $185M convention center. We either build a $185M convention center or we scrap the idea before any more taxpayer money is wasted on this project. New York State faces a multi-billion dollar deficit. In his "State of the City" statement, Mayor Jennings told us that we face hard financial times. It is now time that we face the economic reality that we can not afford a $400M convention center.
It is now time for our state representatives to propose legislation to reconstitute the Albany Convention Center Authority as the ReBuild Albany Authority. It is now time that we use the $75M grant from the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) that was promised for the convention center for a more practical purpose: rebuilding Albany's decaying neighborhoods. It is now time to eradicate the blight in New York's capital city and turn Albany into a Capital City once again.
It is now time to invest in projects that will revitalize Albany's neighborhoods and raise the level of owner-occupied housing in the city. One way to accomplish this is to use some of the ESDC funds to create a revolving loan fund to help people buy the homes that will be rehabilitated under the ReBuild Albany Authority. A revolving loan fund will not only help turn lessees into homeowners, it will also be a way to continuously replenish the original ESDC funds so that the ReBuild Albany Authority will be self-sustaining and last well into the future.
It is now time to turn the "sexy" convention center proposal into the more practical and affordable ReBuild Albany project. Rebuilding hundreds of abandoned/vacant buildings in Albany, and turning them into owner-occupied homes will go a lot further to revitalizing the city of Albany than one overpriced building that will operate at a deficit and will be a continuous drain on the taxpayers. It is now time to bury the white elephant convention center before the ever-rising cost buries us.
Dominick Calsolaro (contact: 859-5219)
Common Council Member - City of Albany