Use facility cash for neighborhoods
Published on 4/16/2013 by the Times Union written by Dominick Calsolaro
The Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations' recent panel discussion on the problem of vacant/abandoned property in Albany city and county elicited much public discussion about where the funds will come from to remedy the problem.
I, again, suggested the funds for turning our decaying neighborhoods around can come from the Albany Convention Center Authority. About $63 million remains from the original $75 million grant. All we need to do is amend the state Public Authorities Law to change the authority's title to the ReBuild Albany Construction Authority. And, to change its mission statement to state that its purpose is to stabilize, rehabilitate and sell vacant/abandoned buildings to owner-occupants.
The Convention Center Authority was established in 2004, almost 10 years ago. All it has done is to take tax-paying property off the tax rolls and pass the lost real property tax revenue onto the citizens. In addition, the authority has added to the vacant/abandoned building problem by moving the tenants out of the E-Comm Complex on Broadway, thus adding more empty boarded-up buildings to the city's downtown.
It is time to put this convention center boondoggle to bed and have it awaken as an instrument that will lead to the resurgence of Albany's neighborhoods. To quote from the authority's website: "The authority was created to meet an immediate need ... It will provide the city of Albany with the ability to develop, renovate and undertake economic development projects ... to optimize the economic and social activities of [the] city and its environs." I think nine years is long enough to wait for the Authority to meet the "immediate" needs of Albany.
Common Council member, First Ward, Albany,