Dominick Calsolaro

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The Convention Center

Comment Posted by Honorable Dominick Calsolaro in Democracy in Albany on January 31, 2009

Published on 1/31/2009

The Convention Center

Comment Posted by Honorable Dominick Calsolaro in Democracy in Albany on January 31, 2009

I went to the convention center authority board meeting today. The news now is the same as four years ago when the CC Board first started meeting: no ownership of land; archeological study stalled due to property owners refusing access to property; will there be a hotel, or not; construction manager still to be hired; it will be a transformational project; the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) still hasn’t released funds for the project; and on and on it goes.

The hotel occupancy tax (HOT) has lapsed requiring state and county legislative approval to reinstate the additional HOT percentage to pay for the operating costs of the Authority. This lapse in the HOT has led to an operating DEFICIT for the Authority.

Remember when, about a year ago, we were told that if the project wasn’t started by June, 2008, the costs would rise by $40,000 a month. I wonder what the increase in costs is now that a year has gone by and project has not moved one inch forward from where it was a year ago. If we keep this up, the Authority employees will reach the five year vesting in the NYS Retirement system before a shovel is put into the ground.

I call, again, for this proposed tax-eating project to be terminated and replaced with the ReBuild Albany Authority. This newly constituted authority will use what’s left of the original $75 million from the ESDC to buy, rehab (or demolish, if necessary), and resell Albany’s vacant/abandoned buildings. This project, unlike the convention center project, will help to alleviate a myriad of problems facing Albany, such as: Where is the money going to come from to revitalize our deteriorating neighborhoods; What to do with the vacant buildings; How do we keep the construction trade unions busy; How do we find good jobs for our young people that will teach them skills like carpentry, framing, electrical, plumbing, etc. that they can rely on over a long period of time to keep them working; How do we increase home ownership in the city (part of my proposal is to use some of the ESDC funds to establish a revolving loan fund to be used for mortgages for low and medium income people looking to own their own home) etc.

Revitalizing our neighborhoods will have a positive affect in many areas. Revitalization will lead to less crime; a larger city tax base; an increase in city population; less rental and more owner-occupied houses; etc. A convention center will lead to a ...convention center. That’s it, nothing more. What a waste of taxpayers’ money when there are so many more deserving projects that could use the funds to better the City of Albany. When will our elected leaders see the light! We need to put Albany’s Neighborhoods First.

Dominick Calsolaro
Common Council Member – First Ward