Posts Tagged With: City of Amsterdam

Erie Canal Crawl – Riverlink Park


As the Champlain Canal Schooner Lois McClure made its way down the Mohawk River towards the City of Amsterdam, newly appointed Director of Economic Development and City Historian Rob von Hasseln along with the Mayor’s Office and the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation quickly planned an event like no other. Billed as the Canal Crawl, Amsterdam’s Riverlink Park was host to the educational schooner, sculptor Alice Manzi whose work The Painted Rocks of Amsterdam adorns the Riverlink Park addition and the Historic Amsterdam League with an information table, books and postcards. Music was provided by members of the 2012 World Champion Scotia Glenville Pipe Band, Misha Murdoch and Reid Perry, French-Canadian and Irish music by Bernd Neumann, Carol Mandigo and Lenny Broiles. Hamburgers, hotdogs and cold drinks were served by members of the Waterfront Foundation.

It was a great day for meeting people, making new connections and of course taking pictures!

Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, Entertainment, History, Music, Outdoors, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Skeeter Creek


Voted #1 Country Band in the Capital Region, Skeeter Creek performed at Amsterdam’s RiverLink Park to a packed crowd on Saturday night. The rain held off for the concert this week, but the humidity was up there. That didn’t stop people from dancing!

Paul Gavry, President of the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation introduced the band and asked for contributions to help keep quality music coming to Riverlink Park. Every concert at the park is free of charge. The bands are paid with funding provided by corporate sponsors and donations, so if you can give, please do.

Categories: Amsterdam, Entertainment, Music, Photography | Tags: , , , , ,

The 4th Annual Riverlink Jamboree


Four acts with over six hours of continual entertainment, presented free of charge by the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation and its corporate sponsors. It was another steamy Saturday afternoon with rain looming on the horizon. Luckily, the rain held off and breezes off the Mohawk River helped move the cloud cover. The clouds were actually shielding us from the scorching sun, now very present with little shade. It was hot and so were some of the groups performing at Amsterdam’s Riverlink Park. The docks were full of boats, the Riverlink Café full of diners and the park, unfortunately was not full of people to hear the wonderful music presented. This was the first concert starting at 3pm this year. I’m sure many were confused because a good number showed up at the usual 7pm starting time.

I have many images to share that took me many hours to process. This week Rebecca Webster of the Recorder beat me to the punch, posting both her story and photos of the concert to the online version of the Recorder last night. She did an outstanding job. Please check out her article.

Here are my photos:

 

 

Tophenjamin

 

 

The Nellies

 

 

Rusty Belle

 

 

Dan Johnson and His Expert Sidemen

Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, Entertainment, Media, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Marketing the City of Amsterdam: Part 1


The Basics – What’s Out There?

The Official Tourism Site for the State of New York  is usually the first website people will visit to get information about a New York State destination. Looking at the regional map we would assume Amsterdam is located in the Central New York region. Clicking on the map of NY Central Region opens the tourism website for Central New York.

Montgomery County is not listed as part of  the Central, or any region on the NYS region map!

On the NYS Official Tourism website, we can click on the header CITIES & TOWNS, from there we are presented with an entry box where you can type in Amsterdam. You are then presented with the following description:

What is wrong with this picture? First of all Amsterdam is listed as a town. There is a town of Amsterdam, but the site is describing the city of Amsterdam. The Noteworthy Indian Museum has been closed for some time now. The Walter Elwood Museum closed since last year’s flood.  None of the underlined links are working. The majority of the locations described (Fort Johnson, Lake George, Halcyon Farm B&B, The Brown House) are neither in the town or city of Amsterdam.  There is no Visitor Center or garden at Riverlink Park.

Clicking on the SEE & DO tab for Amsterdam brings up the following:

Out of the five Locations listed, only the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course is operational and in Amsterdam. The New York State Outdoorsman Hall of Fame is in Vail Mills/Broadalbin.

Clicking on the EVENTS tab gives us the following for Amsterdam:

Finally, clicking on the STAY tab brings this up:

Here we have some useful information, places to stay actually in the city and town of Amsterdam (along with a few that are not).

Overall, I would say the New York State Tourism website failed in terms of marketing Amsterdam. The outdated information and lack of an accurate, viable description of our  history and local events is not helping. The NYS Tourism link to the Amsterdam Mohawks baseball website and schedule is dead. Updated links, including the Riverlink Park Concert Series, would draw more people to this area.

Failure to include Montgomery County or Amsterdam in any of the identified regions is just inexcusable.

Categories: Amsterdam, Business, Entertainment, Media, Politics | Tags: , , ,

Annie and the Hedonists


The third installment of Amsterdam’s Riverlink Park Concert Series took place Saturday night featuring Annie and the Hedonists. Their acoustic sound was bluegrass, ballads and early jazz. There were about 200 people in attendance, a variety of ages.

Riverlink Park looks progressively better each week. The new floating docks are installed, a big improvement! They are wider than the old storm-swept docks, making room for smaller boats to pull up to the park and have dinner or enjoy the show. It was a clear, relatively cool night and Annie sounded great as she belted out one tune after the next.

Categories: Amsterdam, Entertainment | Tags: , , ,

Buddhists Donate Security Cameras to the City of Amsterdam


During a formal presentation ceremony at Amsterdam City Hall this morning, the local Buddhist group known as the World Peace and Health Organization, led by Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi, presented the City of Amsterdam with 20 video surveillance camera systems. The cameras were donated Sky Deng, whose company LYD Technology USA Inc.  produces the systems.

Local Pediatrician Dr. Govind C. Rao who is the groups liason with City officials, gave a short speech followed by the presentation of the cameras. In turn Mayor Ann Thane presented a basket to Sky Deng as well as a bird feeder and potted plant to the Buddhist group. Master Ziguang Shang Shi spoke to the assembly with his words translated by Jennie Wong. The Mayor then expressed her gratitude and hopes of continued cooperation with the group.

Amsterdam Police Chief Gregg Culick and Lieutenant Rob Richardson who had several earlier meetings with the Buddhist group about the installation of the cameras,were also present at the ceremony. Sky Deng previously  provided video surveillance systems for several buildings occupied by Buddhist group members residing in the City of Amsterdam, as well as the author of this blog.

Sky Deng, Chief Culick, Mayor Thane, Lt Richardson

Dr. Rao, Sky Deng, Mayor Thane, Lt. Richardson, Chief Culick

Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi, Mayor Ann Thane

Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi, translates into English as Purple Light Guru.

Jennie Wong

Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi

Sky Deng, Shanxing Tan, Jennie Wong

Categories: Amsterdam, Law, Photography, WPHO | Tags: , , , , , ,

Joey Thomas Big Band


It was a steamy Saturday night at Amsterdam’s Riverlink Park but over 300 showed up to hear Joey Thomas Big Band. There was even a group of swing dancers from a Ballston Spa dance class to entertain the crowd. Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation Chairman Paul Gavry thanked the sponsors of the event along with a Beechnut Corporate Executive. A video sample of the music and dancing can be found at the end of the photos.

Categories: Amsterdam, Entertainment | Tags: , , , , ,

Grove Street Pond


It finally rained today! We really needed it; but with the past few rains, Grove Street experienced a phenomenon usually limited to streets closer to the river.

Grove Street in Amsterdam, NY is high enough in elevation not to experience flooding from the nearby Mohawk River. The last few times it has rained, a blocked storm drain changed all that as Grove Street became a pond. Watch as cars, trucks and even a motorcycle try to navigate the waters. The last car in the video decided not to risk it and turns around to go the wrong way down the one-way street.

Categories: Amsterdam, Media | Tags: , , , ,

Amsterdam’s Administrator of Economic Development


 

With a forty-five thousand dollar salary in place for the City of Amsterdam Administrator of Economic Development, a search for the proper candidate will soon take place.  During last night’s Common Council Meeting, Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis referred to the city charter when reminding the Alderman, the position is filled  by Mayoral appointment.  Let’s take a look at what the charter states the duties of the Administrator of Economic Development really are.  Some people will be in for a few surprises.

Article XXII
Community and Economic Development Department (§ C-149 – § C-150)
[Added 5-20-1997 by L.L. No. 5-1997]
§ C-149
Establishment of Department.
A Community and Economic Development Department shall be headed by an Administrator appointed by the Mayor, with Common Council approval, for a term of office coterminous with the Mayor’s term, to serve at the Mayor’s pleasure.
§ C-150
Duties of Administrator.
The duties of the Administrator shall be as follows:
A. To act as a full-time administrator of the Urban Renewal Agency and Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency offices to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive approach to community and economic development within the City of Amsterdam.
B. To develop and administer a combined and integrated staff to support the Urban Renewal Agency, Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency and other community-based programs recognized by the Common Council.
C. To administer and keep detailed financial records according to generally accepted accounting principles for each of the above respective departments, programs and volunteer initiatives.
D. To aggressively seek, prepare, review and administer all aspects of grants sought by the City of Amsterdam and maintain detailed financial and administrative records of every grant received by the City.
E. To appoint, with the Mayor’s approval, project managers when grant budgets permit for various projects that may come under the jurisdiction of this Department, after seeking the advice of the Board of Directors of the agency involved.
F. To oversee all volunteer community-based initiatives, recognized by resolution of the Common Council, and to provide administrative services and technical support to the various community-based initiatives so recognized.
G. To coordinate the financial affairs of the Community and Economic Development Department with the City Controller.
H. To assist the City Planning Commission in updating the City’s current Master Plan.
I. To advise and coordinate with City and county planning offices.
J. To undertake any other community and economic development duties deemed necessary by the Mayor.

Full-time administrator of both Amsterdam Urban Renewal and Amsterdam Industrial Development Agencies and act as accountant for both agencies!

Develop and administer staff for both offices any other community based projects recognized by the Common Council.

To develop and administer grants. Why did the budget just pass with separate funding for a grant writer?

What Mayor Ann Thane thinks the job description should be:

CEDD Draft Job Description

MISSION
The City’s Community & Economic Development Department provides leadership and technical assistance to business, residents and elected officials to:
- Provide direction and momentum for revitalization of the City’s commercial and industrial areas;
- Maintain a business friendly and investment friendly atmosphere to encourage economic development;
- Provide a system for sustainable development and preservation of the City’s historic fabric;
- Develop and support activities and programs that increase the quality of life in the City of Amsterdam

RESPONSIBILITIES
The CEDD is responsible for the areas of economic development, planning, downtown redevelopment, historic preservation and physical regeneration of the City. This includes retail and industrial development assistance, staff support to City boards and not-for-profit community organizations, marketing, comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance revisions, and historic landmark designation.

MAJOR SERVICE ACTIVITIES
- Assist new and existing businesses with expansion or retention projects.
- Develop and Assist a Downtown Amsterdam Business Improvement District (BID).
- Provide staff support to the Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Micro-enterprise Committee.
- Develop/update marketing materials for ongoing economic development in the City.
- Provide development planning services.
- Administer the City’s business loan fund and other grant programs.
- Support the city’s cultural heritage and other tourism efforts.
- To undertake any other community and economic development duties deemed necessary by the Mayor.

DEVELOPMENT SERVICES
- Business Data Tracking
- Business Outreach and Retention
- Project and Contract Management
- New Business and Business Expansion Entitlement Processing
- Liaison Between the Local Business Community and City Resources
- Overall Management of Marketing and Economic Development Efforts

General Assistance
The Department of Community Development will provide a number of services to make the process of opening or expanding a business as easy as possible. The Department will provide direction on what permits are needed and who needs to be contacted. The Department will act as a liaison with other economic development agencies such as the Amsterdam Industrial Agency, Amsterdam Urban Renewal Agency, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency, and the Empire Zone, and act as an advocate for businesses with other city departments.

Revolving Loan Fund
The Department of Community Development will develop and administer a City Loan Fund. Businesses that create or retain jobs in the City of Amsterdam may be eligible for assistance. Example: A business can obtain loans of up to $30,000 for equipment, real estate acquisition or improvements, or working capital. Loans can be obtained for to 5 up years. Current rates may be the prime rate -1 for targeted businesses such as manufacturing and niche retail or restaurants. Other businesses receive a prime +1 rate. Decisions on loans will made by a committee of local peers who run businesses or live in Amsterdam.

At last night’s meeting of the Common Counsel she added Communications to include updating the City’s website to that list.

The Common Council needs to decide if the job description in the Charter should be changed. If left to her own devices, Queen Ann would have the poor Administrator at her beck and call.  A personal servant to walk two steps behind her and to the left to pick up anything she may have dropped along the way.

Categories: Amsterdam, Law, Politics | Tags: , , ,

The Politics of Art


It was a great idea that has gone sour.  I wrote about the proposed Amsterdam Center for the Arts back in March of this year, when the city then realized it owned the building that formerly housed a mental health outreach Center for St. Mary’s Hospital at 305 East Main Street. Before that it was a furniture store and a church prior to that. Until last year, it was the polling place for two sections of the 5th Ward. The city had paid the utility bills for the building for years and did not realize that either.  No wonder the Controller is having such a hard time with the budget!

Mayor Thane proposed the space be used for an Art Center. I attended the meetings as I thought this would be great for our community.  As a published photographer who has had a few gallery showings of fine art prints, I realized there was no gallery space anywhere around here.  I decided I would support this effort and attended the planning meetings, made suggestions offered my help with photography and marketing. I had a lot of time and committee experience to give to the effort, until politics got in my way.

After a few meetings with the public, the Mayor decided to hand-pick an advisory committee headed by her former Administrative Aide Thom Georgia. The rests of the committee were women, many who did not take part in any of the planning meetings, but were personal friends of the Mayor.  The newly formed group met privately and would not answer any email inquiries.  They held one public meeting on June 7th where the committee members Thom Georgia, Julia Caro, Jessica Murray, Gail Talmage and Janet Tanguay introduced themselves and presented a mission statement. That is all they had for the interested public who had waited for some sign of progress from the group.  I had many questions, but they were not readily answered.  I asked what role the advisory board played and if the Amsterdam Common Council had approved of this endeavor. Georgia snidely stated, “We only answer to the Mayor.” Prior to establishing an advisory board, the Mayor contracted with an Urban Hip-Hop Dance group to use the center for dance lessons, without Council approval.

Today the advisory board announced they were now an incorporated private entity calling themselves, the Amsterdam Creative Canvas Foundation. The advisory board members were now trustees and another woman, Patrice Vivorito was also named a trustee. I do not know her as she has not attended any of the meetings.

It seems to me that the correct process is for the city’s legislative body to negotiate and approve contracts and use of city property with the Mayor acting as executive to sign the contracts.  I don’t see where this now private corporation has any authority to make decisions about the disposition or use of city property without the approval of the Amsterdam Common Council.

I was a big advocate of creating a community art center for the City of Amsterdam, as you can see in this earlier article, but I can no longer support this tainted effort. The public no longer has any input and micro-management has destroyed what should have been an inclusive democratic process.

I really thought Ann Thane could put party politics aside for the betterment of the community, but I was wrong. It was made very clear when she mistakenly sent me a copy of an email intended for Roberto Milan in which she labels me a looser.

Sour Grapes?

Update:

A newly elected member of the school board for the Amsterdam School District, a former City of Amsterdam Councilman and former Corporation Counsel agree with my assessment of this unsavory situation. The discussion of the Art Center takes place at 18:30 in the video.

Categories: Amsterdam, Art, Human Rights, Law, Photography, Politics | Tags: , , , , ,

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