About that Art Center…

Around this time last year, the City of Amsterdam, NY realized it owned a building recently vacated by St Mary’s Hospital Outreach Center. Several organizational meetings were held by Mayor Ann Thane to get public comments on just what to do with this building. There were several great suggestions including a Community Recreation Center. Through a series of missteps that did not include required approval from the Common Council, a handpicked committee was formed with the intended purpose of managing and running an Art Center. This committee then became a private entity that would have control of a city owned property again without any advice from the Common Council, the legislative body for the City of Amsterdam. Creative Connections became very non-communicative, refusing to hold public meetings and would not answer any of my email inquiries. Aside from a couple of art shows, there was little action from this committee or programming for the public.

Throughout this process, I recommended to both the Mayor and the Creative Connections Committee, that they get approval from the Common Council as required by law,before proceeding any further. My suggestion was ignored creating a great deal of animosity.

My earlier blog entries describing these occurrences can be found here and here.

At last nights meeting of the Amsterdam Common, a resolution was presented for approval that transferred funds to pay for furnace repair, carpeting and painting of the Creative Connections Arts Center. This brought about a long needed discussion by Council members about why they were never consulted regarding the use of this building.

I commend Alderman Valerie Beekman for standing up to the Council with a direct criticism of the way the Art Center has been handled, at the same time expressing the importance of continuing to move forward and do things the right way as an example to our kids. She pledged to donate the rest her salary to pay for expenses incurred.

Left out of today’s Recorder article describing last night’s Council meeting, was my formal request that one of our Aldermen propose a resolution dedicating the building at 303-305 East Main Street as a Community Recreation Center. The approval of this resolution would, by law, put the management under control of the City Recreation Committee and would allow them to directly receive funding and grants for programs and improvements. This would increase public confidence in the center by providing a documented, public flow of funding with no appearance of impropriety. It would also open the center for use by the entire community and allow the Recreation department to charge a usage fee, relieving some of the tax burden.

I believe my suggestion was taken seriously and that we will see some movement on this proposal.


Alderman Valerie Beekman authoritatively asserts that the Art Center be handled the right way as an example to our kids.


Amsterdam Recreation Director Rob Spagnola explains the Art Center repairs and upgrades to Amsterdam’s Common Council.

We also discovered at last nights meeting that the security camera systems donated by the Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization last July were finally being installed by Michael R. Parillo. An example of the mounting device designed by Parillo is displayed in the next photo between Corporation Counsel Gerard Decusatis and Alderman Joe Isabel.


Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis, Alderman Joe Isabel, Alderman Valerie Beekman, Alderman Gina DeRossi

There is still time to buy tickets to the Mardi Gras Dance Party Fundraiser sponsored by the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation on Saturday, February 9, 2013, starting at 5:30pm. All proceeds go to fund the FREE 2013 Amsterdam Riverlink Park Summer Concert Series. You may buy tickets directly from the website www.riverlinkconcerts.com.


UPDATE: A Show Of Support

Screen Shot 2013-02-08 at 4.50.48 PM Screen Shot 2013-02-08 at 4.51.13 PM

Categories: Amsterdam, Art, Law, Music, Politics, WPHO | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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2 thoughts on “About that Art Center…

  1. kmbreid2@hotmail.com

    I am glad someone has wondered why all our efforts to make time to go to meetings when discussing the center and what we can do with it as a community was never contacted as told. . I and others who was willing to pay a usage for a room to do community activities was just put to the waste side. We had many talented entities who were excited. I myself was disappointed and invalidated of me taking my very small time frame life to help this center come to life. We were asked to clean it up and then were ignored and dismissed with our plans. I commend you for keeping those “in charge” accountable. Much success to you Former Activity Director ; Karen Bliss-Reid

    Sent from my HTC smartphone on the Now Network from Sprint!

  2. diane

    Jerry, Glad that one of us can get thru. I have brought the fact that there was no agreement between the arts center and the city up, at least three different times in the past year to no avail. Alderman Leggiro also mentioned it to the mayor, but it fell on deaf ears.

    I am not opposed to an arts center or rec center. I am opposed to the mayor with her finagling of city money from various accounts to pay for her pet projects. The furnace per se did not break. There was a leak in a water expansion tank in the basement which is concrete. My concern was the paint and carpet. Last fall there were pictures of several folks painting and cleaning up at the arts center. Supposedly all the materials were donated…….one can only hope. However, no mention of any carpet damage at this time. Now there are holes in the walls and carpet damage. How did this happen from last fall. What has been going on down there?? This time purchase orders were issued thru the city hall custodial budget for paint and materials. However, no paint and painting materials are at city hall. And there is no money in the custodial budget to cover the cost of these items. They were no budgeted or was the carpet. But the mayor has a bad habit of raiding accounts for money for her projects. Because there was no money, they had to request a trx of funds and that is why all this discussion is going on.

    I am sad that those that volunteered their time for the arts cleanup in the spring/fall did not see any benefit for their time.

    By the way, the property at the back of the arts center, is designated a community park on the assessment role. FYI

    Good luck with the concert fundraising Jerry, you have worked hard with your photography to make the concerts come alive 🙂


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