It’s Time for Queen Ann to Abdicate!

QueenAnn2

Queen Ann of Amsterdam, New York

They say she “means well” and Mayor Ann Thane has done a lot to improve Amsterdam’s image but the overbearing need to micro-manage every aspect of OUR City is a detriment to economic development. One would think that after serving as Mayor for five years, Thane would learn to delegate authority, trusting in the many talented people that make up both city government and the constituency. We see the control issues pop up time and time again, from censoring the populace to insisting on exerting influence on issues that are clearly not under the jurisdiction of the elected position of Mayor.

A Brief History

There was the Chalmers building fiasco:

A Chalmers Love/Hate Story

Removing the State imposed 3% tax cap.

Her Majesty Queen Ann has Spoken

The City of Amsterdam Zoning Update that is being held up since 2011 by Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis:

Amsterdam’s Proposed Zoning Update

There was the Art Center:

The Politics of Art

Raises for everybody!

Body Language

A Piece of the World Trade Center that was to be a memorial to 911 still sits rotting at Riverlink Park without any fanfare, dedication or respect.

The Forgotten Memorial

Then there was the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency’s purchase and rehab of a building on Main Street that was held up by the Mayor’s insistence that a damaged mural by an unknown artist in the building be preserved.  This blogger even volunteered to photograph the mural for the archives to help settle the back and forth debate between the Mayor and the AIDA. That situation, to my knowledge, is still not resolved.

The Current Situation

Meet Bala Peri

A man from Virginia, Balakumar Periyasamy, buys the former Park Hill Adult Home on 52 Grove Street in Amsterdam, New York with long-term plans to open as an assisted living facility for Veterans.  To run the home the NYS Department of Health requires a license that takes about two years to get. Having invested a lot of money in building, including the payment of back taxes to the city, Mr. Peri announces his plans to open a restaurant and hotel in the 52 room complex until such time as the adult home license is approved. This project would give local jobs and add to our local economy but requires a variance from the Zoning Board and site plan approval from the Planning Board.

Bala is very excited about the plans and invites local dignitaries to visit the facility. The President of FMCC and members of his executive team visit the building anticipating the need for overflow student housing.  He leaves the tour excited about the possibility commenting that it is in better shape and larger than he originally thought. Bala invites Mayor Thane to tour the building and she does so commenting how beautiful and large the building is stating she would do what she could to help him with the project.  Bala then invites journalist Alissa Scott from The Recorder to hear his plans for the restaurant and hotel.  Alissa writes an excellent article, published in the Recorder on December 9, 2013, that would have helped further the project along had it not been for disparaging comments quoted from Mayor Ann Thane.

Thane said she doesn’t think Peri should go through with student housing. “I actually don’t think that will work because there’s too much in the way of state regulations that would need to be done to make that ready for students,” Thane said. “The cost would be too high.”She also doesn’t think a hotel would well-suit the community’s needs. “To propose a hotel, you have a high-end hotel going in across the river at the castle and you have a Hampton Inn and they have much better locations,” Thane said. “IfI’m going to book a room in a hotel, I don’t want to stay in the room that was a senior cubby hole.”

Thane goes on to suggest what Peri should do with HIS property, stating she is not sure the area can support another adult home. This from an elected official who touted economic development in her election campaign.  Bala’s vision is not for a high-end hotel like the proposal for the Amsterdam Castle or the new Hampton Inn. It is for students or the budget minded traveler, the 99% who can’t afford to stay at a high-end hotel.
Here is a business person who invested in our community buying a building that was left to deteriorate, who already employed a dozen local people to help with his project. Mayor Ann Thane’s damning comments may have a harmful effect on Bala’s project before any approvals are granted from Zoning or Planning.

My personal experience catching the criminals who stole thousands of dollars of copper from the building is chronicled in the following link.

A Copper Caper 

For the greater part of 2013, this blogger exhibited much restraint in not posting political critiques or commentary but this situation just crossed a line.  The Republican supermajority Common Council taking office on January 1st will dethrone Mayor Thane’s veto power.  She may as well abdicate now and negotiate a compromise as she will soon be forced to trust the legislative body of the City of Amsterdam.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Business, Law, Park Hill Adult Home, Politics | Tags: , , , , ,

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11 thoughts on “It’s Time for Queen Ann to Abdicate!

  1. diane

    Jerry, I do not understand why she would throw the project under the bridge. It makes no sense ! I have toured with you and Bala and it would be the perfect project until the college has the additional dorms built, and/or the permits come thru for the veterans home. If you have anything that I can help with, please contact me, I will be glad to help. 🙂

  2. Thank you Alderman elect Hatzenbuhler! I know you too have felt the wrath of Queen Ann for having the courage to stand up and speak your mind during the public comment segment of our Council meetings. From her eye rolls to cutting you off to dubbing you the Minister of Misinformation, Thane has shown you much disrespect over the past few years. When it comes to issues involving the City of Amsterdam, you are of course one of the most informed individuals we have!

  3. An Informed Citizen

    She says one thing and then turns around and spouts out of her blowhole something else. She has constantly done that to where I work. I work at the “Downtown” hotel that she constantly maligns and as soon as new owners took over, and I might add paid over $500,000 in back taxes, sends the fire dept and codes into the hotel and demand they make changes that they said were not up to current code. The items they said needed changing were actually grandfathered because they were part of the original design and construction and do not need to be updated until major renovation was done in that area, proving that codes do not know the current codes in hotels and other public buildings. The building is safe, and ultimately codes backed down. They said they were directed there by the Mayor’s office.

    This is her way of “helping” new business owners in the area. Her way of chasing them out of the city as soon as they come in. The new hotel owners own 8 other properties in the New England area, adding us as their 9th property. They have never been treated the way they have here in Amsterdam by the mayor’s office. They Paid $1 million for the property between the price of the hotel and the back taxes, and have pledged that they will invest at least another Million or more to improve the property, building and surrounding area in landscaping and the like.

    She also took information from a confidential loan application and made items on it public. The information that we will be a Hampton Inn was wrong, and could actually cause problems picking up the franchise. The way Hotel franchises work is that a hotel franchise, lets say Hampton Inn or Best Western won’t commit to a property until renovations are at least half way completed and plans have been approved. They won’t look at the plans until the renovations are half way because they want to be sure the hotel looks like their other hotels. Our plans were done by the number two architect for Hilton Properties. Her premature making public what was on the confidential application might just torpedo that brand from agreeing to go with that franchise.

    She has also spread that we are closed until renovations are complete, and that is NOT TRUE. We are open, we have 50 rooms open an ready for rental. Two floors are closed as well as the restaurant, bar and banquet area’s to get ready for renovation. Rooms not in service are being emptied of furniture and fixtures getting them ready for work.

    This work does not require us to close, so we won’t close. We plan on staying open. The new owners are keeping the hotel open because they want to keep their employees employed and be a good employer in the city. Renovations will happen when they happen and we will be a better property in the city. We FINALLY have owners that want to to invest in the property, don’t run them out. To get business we have had to reduce our rates from around $70 a year ago at this time to starting at $55 just to get people in the door because she and others have continued to spread her lie that we were closing.

    As you can tell, I’m frustrated by all she has done, making my job, and the owners jobs much harder at the “downtown’ hotel. She skirts just on the other side of libel which is frustrating. One of these days she is going to open her mouth just a little too much and I will be happy when someone gets her for it.

    • karin

      So, The Best Value Inn will not be a Hampton inn? What a shame…..I hope they at least renovate the exterior and update it.

  4. bjaycjay

    Good article, Jerry. Nice to see that someone wants to invest in property in Amsterdam for reasons other than raking the poor, or bringing in the snobs….LOL. Carol

  5. diane

    Karin, I think what the writer was saying is, the mayor may have compromised/jeopardized the chances of it becoming a Hampton Inn because of her premature release of information. I have also looked for substantiating info from other sources and have found none. I do know that they, the owners have applied for a 900,000.00 grant/award from the Cuomo funds that were announced today. There is a 3 million dollar amount that has not been broken out, so maybe it is in those monies. Usually for proprietary purposes, names are kept confidential until all is signed sealed and delivered. I would hope in the long run, that this project works out, as it would certainly be excellent for the city, even as a Hilton Garden Inn 🙂

  6. This is the other party (Amsterdam Castle) going before the Planning Board on the 19th: b) 49 Florida Avenue – Case#13-23P – Leslie J. Ashley & Nigel Ferydoon Ghotbi for a site plan and special use permit for a bed & breakfast with 27 rooms.
    Amsterdam Code states a bed & breakfast is limited to 3 rooms. I don’t know why they aren’t applying for a hotel variance, they will need one for 27 rooms anyway.
    Apparently the Mayor supports this one.

  7. I did get an email from Ann Thane a few hours ago because of this blog post (not the email I sent her on Monday). She states she was “somewhat taken aback and saddened” by my blog entry, insisting she had discussed all of these points with Bala and I during her tour of the building, which was just not true. I have been on the phone with Bala for the past 3 days because of the article in the paper. Bala is a very kind and truthful man who was angered,shocked and felt betrayed by the Mayor’s comments, so much so that he is taking a week off from his job to be here on Monday to try and repair some of the damage caused by the Mayor’s statements in The Recorder.

  8. She gets saddened a lot, I notice.

  9. diane

    Well, the good news is the downtown hotel did receive 880,000.00 in grant funds from the governor handouts yesterday. And they did use the name Hampton Inn also. That is excellent news 🙂 🙂

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