Posts Tagged With: city of amsterdam NY

Meet Chad Majewski


This election year is very important for the City of Amsterdam, New York. All of the elected positions are up for grabs and with the dysfunction in City Hall over the past few years, we certainly need some new candidates for the job.

Chad Majewski has stepped up to the plate and is running for 3rd Ward Alderman. A lifelong resident of Amsterdam, Chad cares passionately about our community. Chad attended Amsterdam schools and worked his way up to Vice President of Sales at Noteworthy Corporation.  Through his job Chad has traveled throughout the United States communicating with businesses and individuals on behalf of Noteworthy. He knows how to negotiate and communicate with people. For the past fourteen years, Chad has sponsored a toy drive benefitting local kids and Catholic Charities. He helped rehabilitate Sirachia Park in his neighborhood as well as his beautiful Victorian home on Guy Park Avenue.

Chad Majewski gets along with everyone. He is articulate, friendly and willing to what is necessary to reduce the blight in our city and make it a great place to live and do business. Amsterdam has a long way to go before it can be called small business friendly. Chad has the know how and experience to move Amsterdam forward, making it a place our residents can be proud of and where small businesses will want to operate from.

The Committee to Elect Chad Majewski is sponsoring a fundraiser on Friday, July 10, 2015, at the Century Club, 130 Guy Park Avenue, Amsterdam, New York. There will be music, hor d’oeuvres and you can meet the new candidate in person.

Please welcome the next generation of Amsterdam politicians by supporting Chad Majewski for 3rd Ward Alderman.

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Categories: Amsterdam | Tags: , , ,

Amsterdam’s Failed World Trade Center Memorial


City officials never told new Riverlink Park concessionaire it was there, in fact they don’t want anyone to know about a piece of the fallen World Trade Center that sits hidden near the fence at Amsterdam’s Riverlink Park.  It was supposed to serve as a memorial to those who died in the tragic terrorist attack on American soil savagely killing over 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001.

Robert von Hasseln, Amsterdam’s Administrator of Community and Economic Development who also holds the position of City Historian, wanted to make sure that Amsterdamians never forget that day when the hijackers took over American Airline flight 11 that changed course in the air over Amsterdam, New York, eventually crashing into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Von Hasseln arranged to have a surviving column of the World Trade Center’s north tower transported to the City of Amsterdam to be memorialized in a fitting presentation at Riverlink Park.

The 11,000 pound, 18 foot column was unceremoniously dumped on the East end of Riverlink Park four years ago. There was supposed to be a monument built around the erect column with a public dedication ceremony in Spring of 2012. On December 15, 2011, Amsterdam’s Mayor Thane described the proposed memorial to Recorder reporter Jarrett Carroll;

The cement column will be planted upright into the ground once the ground is workable again. We will be mounting it as an obelisk on the section of land between the cafe and the blacktop, There will be a circular mediation area surrounding it with trees, explanatory signage and benches. It will be a strong symbol that will serve as both a visual and abstract representation.

The memorial was never built, the public dedication ceremony never happened. The World Trade Center artifact remains where it was dumped four years ago, hidden behind Riverlink Park’s event tent.

This serves as another failed promise of the Thane administration, a disgrace to those who died and a slap in the face to those Firefighters, Police Officers, Paramedics and volunteers who worked so hard to rescue victims of that attack. It is also an insult to my fellow Veterans who joined the service after 9/11, sacrificing their lives and limbs to fight the war on terror.

It is disingenuous of Mayor Ann Thane to say this project was not forgotten and always on the priority list. That is all just political spin. The truth is, the project was tossed around like a hot potato with nobody wanting to take ownership and get it done. It went from von Hasseln to the Veterans Commission, to Joe Isabel, back to von Hasseln and was finally dumped on the Recreation Director in December of 2014. There are no set plans, designs or even a location to erect the memorial. I wrote three blog articles about this situation on the Grove Street Photographer over the past four years, the last one picked up by WCSS radio and then it went viral. I am very pleased to see the WTC memorial finally getting the attention it deserves. There is something wrong with local government when you have to shame politicians into doing their jobs. Mayor Ann Thane should acknowledge responsibility for this failure and apologize sincerely to the citizens of Amsterdam and the relatives of those who died in the WTC bombing on 9/11.

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Categories: Amsterdam, historic amsterdam league, historic preservation, History, Politics | Tags: , , , , , ,

One Hail of a Party


Ronco Construction came to Amsterdam this year to help repair roofs damaged by the hail storm in May. They rented 46 East Main Street with a six month lease and according to project manager Brook Reutter, they are thinking about making that a permanent satellite office for their company. Ronco wanted to sponsor a a block party for the city residents and with input from event organizer Sherri Crouse and Amsterdam Animal Control Officer Gina Kline, it was decided proceeds would go to help neuter or spay the stray animal population. The block party was held Saturday, August 23rd from 4-10pm with food and merchandise vendors, a DJ, live band, mystic readings and face painting.

The event was supposed to include the entire block of East Main Street from Church to Market Street and an event permit was obtained. Apparently an elected official made a call to DOT about the event who then notified Police Chief Culick who in turn told event organizers they needed 120 days notice in order to close the entire street. This resulted in the event being limited to 1/4 of the block, which seemed to accommodate those in attendance. Several city employees and elected officials were in attendance, Animal Control Officer Gina Kline, Director of Economic Development Rob von Hasseln, Alderman Rich Leggiero, Alderwoman Valerie Beekman and Mayor Ann Thane who turned her head and walked away when this taxpaying city resident greeted her with hello.

A big thanks to Sherri Crouse, Ronco Construction and the other volunteers who helped put on this benefit for a worthy cause.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, Entertainment, Outdoors, Pets, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s Time for Queen Ann to Abdicate!


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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.

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

Amsterdam Celebrates Mardi Gras!


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The Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation proudly hosted a Mardi Gras Dance Party fundraiser at the Creative Connections Arts Center last night. With a crowd of dedicated Riverlink Park Concert fans in attendance,the turnout was fantastic. This was the major fundraiser for the Waterfront Foundation who bring free concerts to Amsterdam every Saturday during the months of July and August. Jeffrey Broussard and the Creole Cowboys brought the house down with Zydeco music that kept the dance floor full the entire night. Café Nola’s Creole creations even got the OK from the native Louisianans in the band.

The Art Center was transformed to a Mardi Gras inspired showcase. Special thanks go to Emily Gavry who painted the huge Bourbon Street mural that made the room come alive and to Marie Gavry who created the bead and mask centerpieces that graced each table and inflated balloons Saturday morning. Thanks to Evan Gavry who set up the audio equipment, partly owned by Evan with some rentals, and provided audio mixing the entire night. Thanks also to the City of Amsterdam for providing use of the Creative Connections Arts Center.

The Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation Board members responsible for organizing, promoting and running this fundraiser are Paul Gavry, Denise and Robert Terry, Jerry Skrocki and Dave Blaze.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Art, Celebration, Entertainment, Music | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2012 in review


This year my blog went through some changes. The Grove Street Grumble became The Grove Street Photographer.  The Buddhists helped me discover that I had more to be thankful for than to grumble about. While the statistics showed people really liked my grumbling posts, there was also a number of people who did not. One reporter for the Gazette even described my writing style as acerbic. While I still have a few acerbic posts now and then, for the most part I have tried to focus on what I can do well, photography.

Sixty posts were added to the Grove Street Photographer blog in 2012. The blog had 33,000 views from 95 countries. May 29, 2012 saw the highest number of views in one day with 1,134 people viewing the post Celebrating Buddhas Birthday.

Other popular posts viewed in 2012 included two from 2011. In the number two spot  is A New York State of Death  followed by Photo Restoration in the third place. The fourth and fifth places go to my 2012 acerbic posts The Many Faces of Michael Chiara and Letter to the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors.

The 2012 post with the largest number of comments was another acerbic post Mayor Proposes Two Condoms for the City of Amsterdam.

What I took from these statistics was that people would rather look at my photos than read about my political views and I’m good with that. The local papers use talented journalists who are very good at covering local politics. When it comes to photography, I have the edge.

See you next year!

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, History, Media, Photography, Politics, WPHO | Tags: , , , ,

Celebrating Buddha’s Birthday


The public was invited to celebrate the Buddha’s Birthday today at the Five Buddha Temple in Amsterdam, New York. The World Peace and Health Organization sponsored a celebration that included an introductory discussion about Memorial Day and Buddha, followed by costumed dance, ballet, Chinese Opera and a demonstration of Tai Chi. Refreshments were served after the performances. It was a great way to start the day.

Update:

Thanks to everyone who read this blog entry today, it has the highest one day viewing of any of my other posts with 1,480 total views!

Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, Media, WPHO | Tags: , , ,

Riverlink Park Needs Help!


As temperatures soar into the 70’s this week, Amsterdamians are taking to the streets in droves to enjoy the weather. The sound of basketballs hitting the pavement can be heard as kids abandon their electronic games and rediscover the outdoors. In tune with this movement I decided to revisit Riverlink Park, the gem of Amsterdam that occupied my Saturday nights last summer during the Riverlink Park Concert Series.

What I found was little progress since the first flood cleanup.  From the speech by Recreation Director Rob Spagnola during a City Council Meeting last month, I was under the impression that the needed repairs were completed, that all we needed were the floating docks to be ready for the season. My impression was wrong. There is a LOT of work to be done to get the park ready for the season. The City was reimbursed for the repairs but none of the lampposts destroyed by the flooding were replaced, the benches are in poor shape, some needing new wood, all needing painting. There are exposed wires where the boat hookups used to be. The shoreline of the western section of the park is still strewn with debris from the flooding. There are sharp pieces of twisted aluminum where the docks used to attach to the retaining wall.

Although a new storage shed was built for the concession building and repairs to the building were completed, it does not seem that any of the other work is being done so that we can ALL enjoy the park by the river.  I did notice a City of Amsterdam utility truck parked in front of the concession building, but did not see any employees present.

This park represents Amsterdam on the Eric Canal National Heritage Corridor.  It is time we cleaned our stoop.















Categories: Amsterdam, History, Photography | Tags: , ,

10 Questions with Bill Wills


Since the Amsterdam mayoral candidates will not debate, there needs to be a forum outside of  reelection campaign websites and Facebook pages where voters can question the candidates on issues that are important to them.

I decided to take the initiative and come up with ten questions of my own to ask each of the three mayoral candidates.  I was able to email both William D. Wills and Ann M. Thane with my request for an interview and photo session. I even made it easier for the candidates by sending them the ten questions I wanted answers to.  Joe Emanuele III has no internet contact information available, just a PO Box number.  I sent my request to him via snail mail.

William D. Wills was the first to respond.  He answered my questions and in lieu of a photo session, preferred I post this photo of him.

My two grandchildren both of which mean the world to me and why I want to make Amsterdam a nicer place to live.


I worked with Bill Wills for a year on the Zoning Update Committee and observed his performance as the outspoken member of the Common Council. He is very in tune and dedicated to his constituents. There is no underlying agenda, what you see is what you get. I sent many emails last year to the entire Common Council in an attempt to discuss issues affecting my neighborhood. 
While I did not get many responses, Alderman Wills was always quick to respond to my emails, despite the fact that I do not live in his Ward. If he could not help directly, he guided me to someone who could.

Bill Wills has a personal Facebook page and an election campaign website wdwills.com.  He has already addressed some issues on Tim Becker’s Pars Nova website.  Bill was criticized by both Bethany Schumann-McGhee and Mayor Ann Thane about his motives for taking a salary decrease of $25,000. when elected Mayor. They suggest he is taking a pay cut to avoid a decrease in money he is already receiving as a public employee retiree. Thane called it a “parlor trick”.  But the truth of the matter is that a public employee retiree elected to a position he did not hold before he retires, has no limitation on the amount of salary he can receive with no decrease in retirement. This is outlined in the guide for public employee retirees; What if I Work After Retirement?

Let’s get to the questions!

10 Questions for Mayoral Candidate William D. Wills

1. As Mayor, there are several appointed positions that have to be filled. Have you decided who will be your Corporation Counsel?

Yes. It will be William Mycek (the son). I am also going to suggest to the Council that William appoint an assistant, as has been done in the past, to address the lack of enforcement of the Codes and Ordinances of the City in Court. Collect fines and not levy fines as part of a lien on a building.

2. What changes will you make to insure the City Budget is kept under Governor Cuomo’s 2% tax cap?

More control over spending and the use of OT in all department budgets. Look at ways to expand the tax base to help us in the future like getting developers to invest money in our City on new housing developments for the Middle Class.

3. The Community and Economic Development Department has not been filled or funded for years, yet remains part of our City Charter. The head of this department is appointed by the Mayor and is the Administrator of the Urban Renewal Department and Industrial Development Agency responsible for coordinating an integrated staff to support both agencies. He/she is also grant writer for the city and overseer of volunteer activities. We have been funding separately for a grant writer and staff for both agencies is not coordinated. Will you seek to reestablish this important position? If not, will you put it on voter referendum to remove from the charter?

Try to convince both AIDA and AURA to again fund the position of Director of Community and Economic Development so that coordination between the two Agencies is there again. As things improve look to expand the department with a grant writer even if it is only part time staying well within the 2% tax cap. The Director initially would be the City’s grant writer but when things improved it would be more beneficial to have a grant writer available to all City Departments on a daily basis.

4. There has been little talk from the candidates about supporting diversity in Amsterdam. With the Latino population at 26%, a growing Chinese population and an often-invisible LGBT community, what will you do as Mayor to support the needs of these groups and celebrate their heritage?

Reopen the lines of communication with the Hispanic population using Centro Civico as a resource. Present publicly their contribution to our Community and form a coalition of sorts to fight the “element” that has creaped into our Community causing disruption and problems. There are “bad apples” in all of our Community and its very diverse cultural backgrounds. However, we must stress the value of our diversity and how our children are better prepared than many others to enter our also very culturally diverse nation. Encourage and support all of our community in its initiative to take back their neighborhoods. Use the police as a resource not only as a defense mechanism.

5. What will you do as Mayor to open these lines of communication and increase transparency in our local government?

Currently I am being given the silent treatment by some public servants in City Hall for comments made on a local radio program that we must answer the public’s calls and if those that don’t can look elsewhere for jobs. As public officials whether it be the person behind the counter or the person sitting in the Mayor’s office, none of us should not be unapproachable and should always be available to the public to answer their questions or resolve their issues . I will try to assure that each call made into City Hall is answered by a “live” person and not voice mail. That their concern(s) are addressed and if needed a tentative schedule given for resolution. Never leave them hanging or without a response.

6. How are you going to get Code Enforcement functioning again in Amsterdam?

I will propose that the Engineer’s office and the Codes department be merged and become one with the City Engineer in charge of both Codes and every public works project out there. I would look to cross training the individuals involved so when the work dictates they can assist each other. This will need to be discussed with the Unions and of course the Council.

7. Do you think marketing the City is the job of the Mayor?

Yes. However, assisted by our Economic and Community Development agencies along with assistance of the Chamber of Commerce.

8. What actions will you take to see that Amsterdam has a viable economic plan for the future?

Keep costs down by negotiating affordable labor contracts with reasonable health care costs. We must standardize the health care offered to our eight unions so that all of our employees are receiving the same benefits, no less or no better than the others.
Redevelopment plans for our vacant lots. Encourage developers to see the value in building middle class homes once again in Amsterdam Expand our tax base.
Explore consolidation with the Town of Amsterdam as I see that as our future if we are to survive.

9. Amsterdam Municipal Golf Couse has been sucking up $50,000. of taxpayer dollars per year for the last few years. There was even a study done to help improve the economic situation, yet few of these recommendations were ever enacted. Do you think the City should continue to fund this golf course that benefits only those who can afford to pay the price to play?

The Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course is an enterprise fund which means it is self -sufficient. Since I have been on the Council we have never loaned any monies from the General Fund to assist the Golf Course. However, for a while the Golf Course was using its fund balance by approximately $50,000 a year to keep fees down. I have proposed that it be operated by a manager who is well versed in the operations of a successful golf course. Right now we have no one in charge, no Department Head per se. I would like to see many of the suggestions made by the Union College Task Force implemented. In addition, more attention to our course should be given by staging events like a regional amateur open.

10. Why do you want to be Mayor of Amsterdam?

I have spent 12 years on the Board of Supervisors followed by now 12 years on the Amsterdam City Council. This will be a natural move by someone like me who is very much in love with his community. This Community is worth the sweat, tears, extra effort, headaches, etc. that anyone in the position of Mayor will expend. If not, than their tenure will not be one of success. I like challenges and this will be probably be my greatest. I have ideas and so do many others to see that we progress not regress. I will be open to others thoughts and ideas and to get as many people involved in our resurgence as are interested. My almost 35 years of service with the State of New York was a learning experience that I will use to our benefit here in Amsterdam. The Governor will know that we exist.

Now you have a little more information than you did before about William D. Wills.  I hope the other two candidates follow suit.

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

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