Hon. Jerry Jennings, Mayor
City of Albany
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