BuckinghamPondCrestwood NANEWS

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Location: Albany, New York, United States

CONSERVATIVE ROW C FOR MAYOR CITY OF ALBANY NY November 5, 2013 Election U S Navy Veteran BS Geography, U Wisconsin (Korean GI Bill) MA Geography, U Minnesota (National Fellowship) 30 years as founder and president, Buckingham Pond/ Crestwood Neighborhood Assoc. maintaining/improving neighborhood residential integrity and quality of life. Leadership resulted in creation of Buckingham Pond Park in 1993-94, as well as many other open spaces. See bpcnanews.blogspot.com for list of leadership results. Neighborhood website: bpcnanews.blogspot.com/ see also: albanycityconservative.blogspot.com

Saturday, January 27, 2007

January 26, 2007

Hon. Jerry Jennings, Mayor
City of Albany

Mayor Jennings:

Two development proposals are before the City Planning Board seeking approval. Neither, are in the best interests of maintaining the residential integrity and quality of life in the adjoining single family residentially
zoned neighborhoods of Wards 8, 14 and 15. I urge you to support two alternatives.

We have proposed viable alternatives that will maintain the residential integrity and quality of life in these single family residential neighborhoods as well as the maintenance and enhancement of the city property tax base.

First, the 7.2 acre Krum Kill Rd parcel. This is a wooded, steep sloped ravine, containing two wetlands , a
tributary of the Normans Kill, and an ancient historical Indian camp site. The best use of this parcel is as a natural area which provides wildlife and bird habitat, whose woodlands provide erosion and flood control functions, as well as buffering existing single family neighborhoods from noise and air pollution from the NYS
Thruway. As, you know, a 3rd lane will be added, increasing that noise and vehicle pollution.

It is not a suitable site for big box, multiple housing units, with no proper parking. To approve the proposed project would devalue the surrounding single family homes and further erode the city tax base, in turn negatively impacting support of city schools and city government services, like police, fire and water.

The alternative here is to have the landowner-developer deed the 7.2 acre parcel to the City as a natural area,
and have the Common Council rezone it Land Conservation. In return, compensate him through a Transfer of Development Rights arrangement, where he is awarded land or buildings, of equivalent value, from the City Vacant Land and Buildings Inventory (which you presented at your recent State of the City address). Mr K then builds needed downtown housing, that goes back on the property tax rolls, and furthers your efforts to revitalize downtown.

Second, the 8 to 10 acres of woodland, New Scotland at Whitehall, is proposed as a site for a pocket park at the corner (which we have advocated and support) and more big box housing adjacent (which we do not support). The BZA recently granted a zoning variance for this proposal, without proper Notice of Hearing to me as Buckingham Pond/Crestwood Neighborhood Association. Same was true of the BZA approval of the 70 ft cell phone tower on AJC land, Whitehall Rd. As you are aware, our Association is on record as opposing and offering alternatives to both.

The best alternative , is to build needed senior housing, adjacent to the pocket park, and perhaps, a neighborhood community center. For the past four years, or more, we have been on record as advocating
the Daniel P O'Connell, Memorial Pocket Park, at the corner, and Dan O'Connell Senior Housing/Neighborhood Community Center on the adjacent 8-10 acres. Ours is an aging population of single family homeowners, who have lived in the neighborhood for many years, paying significant property taxes and loyally supporting the Democratic Party at every election. These elderly homeowners are at the time in life where they are ready to sell their single family homes. They should be able to remain in their neighborhood and construction of the Dan O'Connell Senior housing would make this possible. As you know Dan lived further down on Whitehall Rd. You can be sure he would do this for the people. So, why would you and the current Democratic Council Members not do the same? Several years ago, I had arranged for a developer who would have built the senior housing there and donated the corner as the pocket park. For some reason, he got no where with the City.

Big box housing is not suitable for either of the above locations. Poor design, cheap construction, location, traffic patterns and other factors present the risks that the developers will not be able to sell their big box units for the hoped for return. To recoup their losses, developers would likely opt to rent, particularly through HUD and Section 8 housing programs. Exhibit A is the poorly designed and constructed box housing units which are being added to the original Buckingham Mews. The City, by continuing to approve such substandard housing, is ultimately contributing to the decline of the residential integrity and quality of life in the surrounding single family neighborhoods, and further eroding the property tax base and support for city schools and city services.

Compensation for the landowners-developer, return for deeding the Whitehall-New Scotland land to the City for construction of the Dan O' Connell Senior Housing/ Neighborhood Community Center/Memorial Pocket Park could occur through the same Transfer of Development Right arrangement, whereby they are awarded
land. buildings from the City Vacant Land/Building Inventory, build their housing, make their money, provide needed housing, and improve the city property tax base in already blighted neighborhoods.

It all boils down to smart vs dumb growth. Which will it be? The choice is yours. You are the Man-
the Mayor and the legacy will be yours.

Do the right thing for the people and neighborhood here, Thank you.


Joseph P Sullivan, President
Buckingham Pond/Crestwood NA

Friday, January 19, 2007

Neighborhood Traverse, Friday, January 19, 2007 New Scotland Ave, S Manning Blvd, Whitehall Rd. Overcast, mild afternoon, temperature in low thirties. No wind. The morning snowfall all but melted. Street trees are in decline, due to a number of factors, including species, age, sidewalk, curb, driveway, sewer line and gas line projects in recent years; excessive use of road salt and increased traffic and assocaited increases in vehicle emissions. 2007 should be the year that the City of Albany initiates a comprehensive TREE care and planting program along these streets. Existing trees are in need of pruning and fertilization to extend lifespans. Many need to be cut down. Open spaces along curbs and on front lawns need to be infilled with a diversity of young trees that are especially tolerant of road salt and vehicle emissions. This year's plantings will begin to mature before most of the remaining street trees come down. A succession planting program begun this year will avoid a situation where most of the trees are removed in a short span of time resulting in the neighborhood streets looking like an urban wasteland. Trees provide scenic beauty, act as air conditioners, emit oxygen to combat increased air pollution, and otherwise add to individual and neighborhood property values and quality of life. Individual homeowners and institutions can play a key role in this urban reforestation effort. Identify trees in need of care or removal. Select curbside and front lawn sites for planting replacement trees. Trees planted on front lawns have a higher survival rate and longer life because the are somewhat removed from the direct effects of road salt and vehicle emissions. Be sure the sites selected for plantings do not conflict with underground utility lines and sewer lines. Be sure the trees selected for planting are tolerant of road salt and vehicle emissions and will not conflict with overhead transmission lines. The City of Albany plants such street and front lawn trees on a 50/50 cost sharing basis with homeowners and institutions. Contact: 434 CITY to call in trees in need of care, pruning, removal. Ask for information on what varieties of trees will be available for Spring and Fall planting this year, and request order forms. Once trees are planted, individuals and institutions have the responsibity to water and care for the trees so they can survive and become established. Someone improperly prunned the London Plane trees , apartments, N side New Scotland between Berncliffe and Crescent. Improper pruning leaves heartwood exposed to decay because the cuts fail to heal over. The result is tree lifespans are greatly shortened, and more branch litter occurs in storms. Exhibit A is St Catherine's School/Rectory grounds. All of trees are the same variety, improperly pruned, and in decline and decay. All will have to be removed and replaced at about the same time. Creating an urban wasteland effect and a large financial cost to replace so many trees. CRESTWOOD PLAZA was fairly crowded. Construction of the new Trustco Bank addition is underway. The contractor assured me that it was NOT a drive-through...at least NOT YET. We defeated a drive through bank proposal there several year ago. LITTER , particularly paper, cups, wrappers and cigarette butts very much in evidence on front lawns, sidewalks and curbsides along New Scotland Avenue.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


The neighborhood is changing, but, alas, not for the better. Expect a continued decline in neighborhood residential integrity and quality of life...unless you
take interest and become actively involved in your neighborhood association.

* increased volumes of speeding traffic and associated noise, litter, congestion and air
pollution, will only get worse with expansion of Albany Medical Center, St Peter's
Hospital and Center for the Disabled, including construction of numerous parking
* the City Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning Board are rushing to approve
condo/cluster housing proposals for Friebel Rd at Krum Kill Rd, the 7.2 acre
parcel on Krum Kill Rd, opposite Ohav Shalom, and the 8-10 acres of woodland
Whitehall Rd at New Scotland Ave. Based on factors such as location, site conditions
traffic flows, selling prices, annual fee structures and substandard construction, these
proposals are likely to fail , with the developers seeking to be bailed out by rentals as
Section 8 housing. These poorly crafted proposals will only change the single family
zoning and character of the neighborhood, devalue existing homes, and further erode
the property tax base, adversely impacting support for the city schools and city
government services.

* Piecemeal urban redevelopment projects, like Park South, will only result in shifting
problem populations to declining rental units like the Hackett-Weis Rd apartments
in our neighborhood. The blight of North Allen St is a stones throw from S. Manning
Blvd and Marion Ave sections of our neighborhood.

* The City of Albany has no rational comprehensive land use plan created with the
participation, advice and consent of neighborhood associations and residents. The
City Zoning Code is routinely circumvented by the Board of Zoning Appeals
approving use variances, which are nothing more than back door zoning changes.
The Common Council has behaved no better. Exhibit A is the December 2005
rezoning of 3.5 acres of land on Holland Ave, as "Highway Commercial" to allow
for construction of an unneeded, big box store, on an already congested emergency
routeway to Albany Medical center facilities. This measure was sponsored by now
Common Council President Shawn Morris, who has aspirations to succeed Mayor
Jennings. It is only a matter of time until the big box store proposal for Krum Kill
Rd at New Scotland Ave, resurfaces. We defeated this twice in 1999 and 2000, but
with the precedent of the Holland Ave "Highway Commercial" rezoning, it will be
more difficult to defeat a big box in our neighborhood.

* We are "represented" by Common Council Members and County Legislators
who really do not represent us, and who do not take the lead in standing up for
the best interests of this neighborhood. They remain silent, or even act as shills
for the developers. Mayor Jennings behaves no better. It will not be long before
this neighborhood resembles his former boyhood home of North Albany.

* The City has no effective emergency/disaster plan, with the spectre of future terror
attacks, hanging over us, like a dark cloud. Neighborhood churchers, synagogues
schools, businesses, and most individual households are not prepared to survive
a man made or natural disaster or terror attack.

* Violent crime, home invasions, break ins, car jackings, drug dealers and gang
bangers are a growing threat to law abiding neighborhood residents. Earlier in
2006 our neighborhood experienced a number of daylight break- ins. We rallied
and expanded our neighborhood watch. The APD responded and together we
got the word out that this neighborhood is off limits to criminals and crime -
for now. Interest and participation in the Neighborhood Watch has waned. It
will not be long before the crime and criminals return. Today's graffiti artists
are tomorrow's gangbangers.

* Buckingham Pond Park is in dismal shape. Consult earlier posts for problems and
corrective actions.

* If all of the above were not enough, library and school construction spending
referenda will be held in February and our home revaluations announced on
March 1. A school property tax hike and another construction bond act in May?

* Day One brings hope and aspirations for reforms and positive government actions at
the state level. But, don't look for any benefits to trickle down to our neighborhood
anytime soon.

The Reality is we are on our own and must take actions to survive whatever may come
our way in the year ahead.

What to do? Begin by reading the November 2005 entry in this blog's archives. The
Association history, goals, achievements and objectives for 2006 are clearly stated.
Those objected remain largely unrealized. Why? Because neighborhood residents
are too apathetic, disinterested ,or otherwise occupied, to make them a reality. The
Mayor, Common Council Members and County Legislators who purport to serve us
do not. Just shut up and pay your taxes!

First, and most important, take immediate responsibility for your own survival and
that of your loved ones. Develop a personal emergency/disaster plan. Set aside water,
food, medications, flashlights, radios and batteries. Keep your car gas tank full and
be prepared to evacuate your home and city. Have go bags packed and ready. Begin
by consulting www.ready.gov and the American Red Cross website.

Second, be alert and watchful in the neighborhood and elsewhere. Call the APD at
458 9148 or Anti-Terror Hotline 1 866 SAFE NYS(723 3697) when circumstances
warrant such calls.

Third, be prepared to defend yourself, your loved ones and home. Get legal firearms
and ammo. Learn how to effectively use, and safely store these. Learn essential fire
fighting skills/actions and first aid. Don't expect that police, fire and EMT services will
be available in event of a major disaster or terrorist attack. You will very likely be on
your own. Don't look to your neighborhood churches, synagogues, schools or businesses for assistance, because they have failed to prepare.

Fourth, as far as the land use, open space, housing, traffic, road salt abatement objectives contact Mayor Jennings to support these objectives: by mail (paper trail) at City Hall 12207. Keep a copy of your correspondence. Or call in on his weekly radio show to support these objectives, or any of your own. WROW 590 AM, Fridays 9-10 AM. Call 476 5959. Lots of people listen and the Mayor will respond.

Fifth, actively participate in your neighborhood association taking on responsibilities
related to land use planning, open space protection/improvement, Neighborhood Watch/Security/promoting emergency/ disaster preparedness, monitoring and interacting with local and state government..and more. If everyone plays some role
our neighborhood and personal lives will be the better for it. Call me: 438 5230

Watch this blog and http://journals.aol.com/lonerangeralbany/lonerangeralbany/
for periodic posts.

Pass the word about these blogs to family, friends and neighbors. They will largely replace newsletters that used to be hand delivered to your door. Share copies of blog downloads with your family and neighbors who may not have computers.
Thank you. Best wishes for 2007.
Joe Sullivan, President BPCNA