Minutes for the November 16, 2005 Meeting

Held at the Campus Center, Room 224, Sage College


Meeting started with a few announcements:


There were several handouts available to members to pick up.  One was a brochure for the Fourth Neighborhood Works Conference sponsored by  the Neighborhood Resource Center (NRC) and CANA (Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations – of which HNA is a member).  This conference will be exploring whether the City of Albany should have a comprehensive plan, and what the benefits and process would entail.  Speakers at the conference, held on Saturday, December 3rd, will include Patti Salkin, Associate Dean & Director of the Government Law Center at Albany Law School; Gene Bunnel, from the Dept. of Geography & Planning at UAlbany; Robert Elliot, Exec. Director of the Planning Federation & former Mayor of Croton-on-Hudson; John Poorman, Director of the Capital District Transportation Committee; Rocky Ferraro, Exec. Director of the Capital District Regional Planning Commission; and Peter Manning, from the NYS Dept. of State Quality Communities Program.  Conference will be from 9am – 1pm.


Also announced was that HNA has a new Listserve through Yahoo Groups.  In an effort to further our mission of “bringing residents and businesses together to promote our community,” this Yahoo group list-serve was created to make it easier for everyone in the neighborhood to communicate. It is an outreach concept or communication tool that the Board hopes will lead to a cohesive, strong and successful neighborhood association since it will facilitate the ability of all residents and our local business owners to be aware of what is happening in and around our community.  We hope that this list-serve will be used to announce and inform community members about relevant city meetings and events like HNA meetings, Common Council meeting, garage sales, block parties, New Scotland Biz promotions like the Spring Spree, etc. and ideas on how to retain or improve the quality of life in our neighborhood.  Please try to keep postings neighborly and positive.  Keep in mind that all postings will go through a group moderator in order to keep them clean and friendly. 

This method of neighborhood communication is only useful if people join and use it. 

To join go to the following link:     http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HNAcommunity

Or send an email to:                        HNAcommunity-subscribe@yahoogroups.com


Yahoo Group name:                       HNAcommunity
Group email or post a message:     HNAcommunity@yahoogroups.com
To Unsubscribe:                               HNAcommunity-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
Related Link:                                   http://www.hnaalbany.com/


Update on the Albany Public Library Branches – John Cirin

Craig Waltz introduced John Cirin, our guest speaker who had come to provide an update on what the Albany Public Library was doing.  John mentioned that the APL had just opened a new North Albany Branch library next door to School 20.  The library is under the same roof as the YMCA, which has been used as a model around the country.  It is located at 616 North Pearl. 


The APL is also introducing a new old concept – a new book mobile.  The big purple bus is actually a modern twist on an old fashioned concept, as it is a 41’ long refurbished city bus.  It will have a 2 week cycle of stops and will stay at each stop for a couple of hours.  John mentioned that the Book Mobile will be available for events, parades, etc.  HNA Members noted it might be a great addition to this coming year’s Spring Spree.  Its grand opening will be Dec. 12th at 4pm at the Arbor Hill Community Center.  The librarian of the bookmobile is actually a trained truck driver – having been a driver and mechanic of tracker trailers!


With regard to the library construction plans, John recapped that the Library Board was rechartered 3 years ago at which time they became a government entity.  They hired a library consultant and architect and came up with a proposed plan focused on the main library.  They created a Citizens Advisory Library Committee based on the negative response they had received.  As a result, their plans or focus has changed to looking towards building new branches in the neighborhoods, such as Delaware, South End, New Scotland, etc.  They hired a real estate agent to scout out sites.  John noted that our neighborhood made it very clear we wanted a branch ON New Scotland, just as the Delaware Neighborhood wants theirs ON Delaware Avenue.  It needs to be visible, on a main corridor, and most importantly walkable for area residents.  They have had a tough time on New Scotland.  They need to have an option to buy and this tends to take a year to 18 months to negotiate.  Often property owners aren’t willing to wait that long.  The site next to the Fire station as a result is not going to work, despite support from HNA members and neighbors.


In terms of funding and politics, a bill was proposed for the library Board to contract with the dormitory authority to handle the building process.  An RFP for architects was released with a list of already pre-screened professionals.  They are starting the design-process soon and hope to come back to the neighborhood in 6 months with a design.


In terms of administration, after a year, Alissa Kane was hired as APL Development Director and they are doing their first ever annual appeal in partnership with the Friends of Albany Public Library.  (For contributions of $35 or more, you receive a one-year membership in the Friends of the Library)  Relevant to the HNA, December, 2006 is the proposed date in which the library at School 19 will be closed.  Books will be transferred


There is much more information available on the website – www.albanypubliclibrary.org – such as reports, fundraising campaign materials, etc.


Questions asked by HNA Members: 

Q:            Is there a planned time for proposed a referendum?  If both the High School and libraries go out for a referendum at the same time, both are likely to fail.

A:            That is not known yet, although the timing of the High School funding request will certainly be taken into consideration.


Q:            Will the APL involve any “Green Building” design? (Green Building design involves looking at construction methods and materials that are ecologically & environmentally friendly and energy efficient.)

A:            This is a hope, but it depends on whether the architects involved are “LEED”-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).  This will have a cost implication, although there are long-term benefits for the community and environment.  This should not be discounted in exchange for a cheaper price tag.


The members discussed that we as a neighborhood recognize that Arbor Hill is underserved with regard to library facilities and that that neighborhood should a priority, as with West Hill, with regard to developing branch libraries.  The APL is currently working with the College of Saint Rose on a program that is creating the next generation of URBAN school teachers and this program would logically partner with the Arbor Hill Library Branch.


Update on the Walgreens & Pine Bush requests for Changes in the Existing Zoning

Shawn Morris mentioned that the Zoning Committee of the Common council will be meeting on 11/17.  The proposed Walgreens would be 14,000 sq. ft. and the developer (Tom Burke) is still requesting a change in the zoning in order to develop the parcel located on Holland Avenue between the VA Hospital and the McDonalds.  Shawn, a member of the Zoning Committee will recommend a negative finding.  The developer can come back to the Common council as many times as they want, until a proposal is acceptable.  At this point their revisions to the plan only involve swapping retail for offices. 


There is also a Common Council hearing scheduled for the requested zone change for the Pine Bush.  IN brief, the parcel adjacent to Crossgates and Time Warner is owned by the Daughters of Sarah, and they would like to develop it, for a Residence Inn Motel. 


Neighborhood Business Owners

Jim Sano reported that several business owners on New Scotland met with the Mayor to discuss issues affecting their business.  They discussed graffiti, robberies, an interest in increased lighting.  They expressed the difficulty in dealing with NiMo.  There was discussion about possibly installing and using surveillance cameras, and how this might be an effort partnered with Trustco Bank.  Jim mentioned that the Mayor may possibly help to push a certain retail property owner who has been sitting on a vacant building to take some action.  Jim also mentioned that there is consideration for increasing the scope of penalties for kids that graffiti or vandalize – particularly in the case of the glass etching spray paint.  This spray ruins the glass and requires full replacement of the plate glass, which is a costly expense.  Working to make the violators cover this expense.  Jim reported that this meeting was very successful with good dialogue with the Mayor.


Other Business Development

Both St. Peter’s Hospital and Albany Medical Center have big development projects planned, yet neither have approached HNA to present these plans.  Apparently St. Peter’s is planning a ½ billion project including a parking garage, renovation of offices.  Rumor has it that this project might have a major impact on the green space on the southwest corner of New Scotland and S. Manning.  Albany Med’s project apparently will include a very large hotel on the corner of New Scotland and Holland Avenue.  It was mentioned that HNA would like to have representatives from both hospitals come present projects to our membership.


New HNA Planning and Zoning Sub-Committee

All the reported development abutting our neighborhood underscores the need to create a Zoning/Planning sub-committee.  This neighborhood has never had a planning process, so there is no sense of what the residents and small business owners would like to see and definitions of what would have a negative impact on our quality of life.  At present Jen Viggiani, Kim Alvarez and Cathy Fahey have volunteered to lead this committee.  Any HNA member is invited to join.


Other Business & Announcements


AT our January membership meeting (January 18th) we will hold our annual board elections.  Thus there is a request for nominations for any seat.  None have been received at present.  Suzanne Waltz nominated all existing board members for re-election.  Deb Schramek seconded. 



Next meeting is Wednesday, January 18, 2006                                                               Minutes by Kimberly Konrad Alvarez, Secretary





2006 Meeting Dates:


All meetings are held on the third Wednesday of every other

month at the Sage Colleges Campus Center – 7:00pm


January 18th

March 15th

May 17th

July 19th

September 20th   (Annual Picnic – location to be announced)

November 15th