Minutes for Meeting of January 21:

Highlights: Contribution made to Lt. Finn's family; University Hts. Presentation; Priorities established by committees for the new year, which include: neighborhood yard sale, expansion of block parties; plant swap; business directory; support your local business night; Support-your-neighborhood business night.

 

Preliminary Business:

        Craig noted that the neighborhood bar/restaurant raised between $7,000 and $8,000 for Lt. John Finn, the Albany police officer who was shot and who is still in critical condition. HNA voted to contribute $100 to his fund.

        Plans are being distributed to update the Park Playhouse [when? Where?]

University Heights Presentation (June ??):

Dorms are completed; state-of-the-art; filled to 50% capacity; Center for Medical Sciences: near completion. Trying to establish programs for their 3 communities:

        Faculty-Staff

        Students

        "Community of Neighborhoods" (that's us)-they've brought in motivational speakers for the neighborhood although they need to better inform the neighborhood about upcoming events

Also talked about the plans to improve the Park South neighborhood (study is being done by a Baltimore firm which has helped renovate neighborhoods there). The findings were:

        Bring in more retail similar to Stewarts

        Remove some of the broken-down properties

        Create a mix of low-income apartments, homes and retail

Also, the Pharmacy School's tutors that volunteer at School 19 was mentioned; the suggestion was made to expand this program and a meeting was suggested with University Heights folks to see if we could work together on how to build a collaboration between the schools and the local neighborhoods.

Albany County Issues: Paul Collins, county rep [?]

        Paul mentioned that the city lost a nursing home [name?; where?] that also meant the city lost 254 jobs; most of the people who worked there walked to work; People should write to Neil [or mike?] Breslin [Address; email?] to say that we want to have another nursing home built in the city [should we write a letter from HNA?].

        County has also received an anti-terrorism grant.

Medicaid costs have been dumped on the counties; trying to convince the state to stop passing on the costs of Medicaid to the counties. Can write Breslin or McEnany? Or Joseph Bruno [Again, addresses] Or can send your note on albanycounty.com [Craig: I went to the website but I couldn't see how to send a note; maybe you might figure it out?]

 

        Deb Schramek pointed out that ACTIV, which stands for Albany County Together in Volunteerism, is looking for volunteers for county government and non-profit organizations to act as hotline counselors, court advocates, and to help seniors with shopping, among other things. For more information, go to albanycounty.com and look in the right-hand column under "Employment Opportunites."

 

Bylaw Change

The communications post, currently (and perhaps forever to be) held by Deb Schrameck, has been added to the HNA board. Hurray for Deb!

 

Smoking Ban Waiver: They are only given out on the basis of economic hardship and according to Paul, the group that has the best chance of getting them are the bingo places, which seem to have lost players because of the smoking ban; Shawn Morris, City Councillor? Says that many bar folks are now congregating outside bars to smoke, which is something that residents are not too keen on.

 

Committee Recommendations for Priorities for Year

Important: All committees should know that the deadline for getting in announcements, articles, etc. about their priorities is February 23

 

Neighbor-to-Neighbor

        Expand Block Parties: The city holds a Night Out, which falls on Tuesday, August 3, and it was the day that was chosen to expand the number of block parties. No insurance needed for that evening; police will shut down streets and they have clowns and other activities that can come through. Tie-dye activity suggested. 5 pm potluck is what is done

        Have a Neighborhood yard sale: The date of Saturday, May 22nd was picked to have a neighborhood-wide yard sale. Contact: Grace Farrell: (438-3832)

Business

        New Scotland Avenue is essentially HNA's "main street." One

priority is thus to inventory businesses to find out what their needs

and issues* are; find out why some storefronts are vacant; and most

importantly, to find out collectively what businesses' and neighborhood residents' needs, issues, and vision are for its "main street." This initiative could also include a "walking tour" with the Business Committee (and include anyone else in HNA that is interested) along New Scotland Avenue to assess the commercial businesses and the streetscape look and feel. The results of this basic fact-finding work about the New Scotland Avenue businesses and streetscape (as well as home businesses that we find out about) would be shared with the whole neighborhood association for discussion and processing. One idea would be to present the information with the Business/Zoning Committee as the

"guest topic / speaker" (instead of an outside guest) for a regular HNA meeting or a special meeting of HNA on an off-month. An end result could be conceptualizing what the neighborhood's vision is for our neighborhood commercial area along New Scotland Avenue, and time and energy permitting, developing some specific ideas and actions by the end of the year to help businesses, help neighborhood residents as consumers and users of this neighborhood commercial area, and improve the overall appearance of the New Scotland Avenue setting -- the core of this walkable neighborhood; Point Person: Jennifer Viggiani (4890-3824)

 

[*Side note but relevant to finding out what businesses' needs and

issues are: The committee would also like to help on an as needed basis -- existing businesses work through their permitting and zoning issues with the city. For example, Ragonese Imports is working through some ideas for sign improvements and may need HNA support. Committee members who showed an interest in helping with this aspect of committee work are Don Dugan, Shawn Morris, Jim Sano, and Jennifer Viggiani.]

 

        Create a business directory; That's something that Olga has got

a good start on, as she has collected a list of all the businesses that have contributed to HNA; the directory could be something that would be useful to residents to know what the businesses in the area are and their phone numbers; it could also be something that students in the area could use. Over time, this directory could evolve from a simple listing into a graphically designed marketing piece with photos and maybe with a map of the neighborhood businesses as a focal point. Point Person:

 

        Help improve the farmer's market: One idea was to put the

farmer's market on the lawn of Sage or perhaps in their parking lot;

Idea was to contact the Regional Farmer's Market Association or Regional Farm and Food Network and to find out if we might be able to attract some more farmers; need also to contact the church name?) that is currently holding the farmer's market to see if they would mind if it was moved; need also to speak to farmers who currently participate to feel them out about the move and the expansion; also contact St. James and the folks in Troy about their farmer's market. Point Person: Frank Boscoe: 489-6048

 

        Organize "Support Your Local Business Nights:" This came up

after the meeting, but the idea is to have a Neighborhood Night at The Fountain this spring, and perhaps keep it going with other businesses. To start with, maybe put a coupon for The Fountain to get the neighborhood out on a slow night of theirs to attract local folks to

hang out, have a drink and eat pizza. Point Person: Sandra Allen:

438-8226

 

 

Beautification Committee: One major priority, another idea

        Neighborhood Plant Swap will be held to share perennial plants the first week of June; The plant swap will be held at the home of Kathy Ray, at 51 Lawnridge, at the corner of Helderberg and Lawnridge Ave.; guidelines for the swap will be put in the next two newsletters. Point Person: Kathy Ray (482-9813)

        Also, they would like to tackle how to make the plantings along New Scotland more attractive; city will provide mulch.

Communications(Deb Schramek is the queen of this department)

        Met a few weeks ago; Deb is getting more help now;

        Need more back-up volunteers for the delivery of the newsletter; ask for volunteers in the next newsletter;

        Need someone to take the lead on the Web site (is that right Deb?)

        Suggestion made to have business coupons in newsletter rather than just ads (Can Olga do this?)

Education

        The tutoring program at the elementary school is great; we could extend it through the summer because some kids need help then too

        Also want to make connections with the colleges to see what connections can be made; get a meeting of colleges; HNA and University Heights;

Public Safety

        Although there is only one member on the committee now, stop signs on the corner of Sycamore and Helderberg was mentioned;

        Put out a call for more members? (Kenneth McGuinness, of Grove Ave., is very interested in traffic issues)