Posts Tagged With: City of Amsterdam

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.

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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: , , , , ,

Body Language


You can tell by the grimaces, postures and hand gestures that the citizens of Amsterdam, New York are not happy with the budget presented to them on June 12 by the Common Council, the Controller and the Mayor.  Issues presented include a $15,000 raise for the City’s part-time Corporation Counsel (who received a vote of no confidence from the Common Council), a new $45,000 appointed position in Economic Development, a $10,000 part-time Event Coordinator, raises for the Assessor and Recreation Director,  in a year when utility fees and property taxes are going up, in a city that is among those with the highest taxed property in New York State.

This is Amsterdam 5th Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero who consistently voted down the appointment of Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis, the pay raises and the budget as it currently stands. He truly represents the will of the people.

Once again I’ll let the pictures tell the story. (If you make to the end of the photos, there is a brief video of excerpts from the Public Hearing).

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

Jewel of the Mohawk


I love Riverlink Park!  It is truly one of the best attractions in Amsterdam.  Access to the Mohawk River is crucial to economic development.  It is after all, the reason Amsterdam was settled. In spite of the damage done to this beautiful river in the industrial era, it continues to be a source of recreation, travel and tourism for the Central New York Region.  It will be Amsterdam’s saving grace.

This is my 12th blog entry about Riverlink Park. I was covering the Riverlink Concert Series last season and donated my images to the Waterfront Foundation to promote the park. Here are links to some of last years concerts:

Chandler Travis Philharmonic     Tony’s Polka Band     Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys

Michael Poulopoulos, Matt Durfee, Michael Eck and Tom Lindsey

One Sweet World

I was there when artist Alice Manzi was installing her Painted Rock Sculpture for Riverlink Park Phase II and happened to catch Congressman Paul Tonko there as well in this entry titled Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

Of course there are times when I just want to see a little more done by our City Administrators to keep this precious jewel polished. The following articles were posted to get a little cooperation and bring attention to some much-needed work in the park.

Riverlink Park      Locked Gate     Phase II

On March 19, 2012,  I wrote this article: Riverlink Park Needs Help.

Given the history presented here, you can conclude that I really do care about this park and want the best for the citizens of Amsterdam.  Some may disagree with the methods I use to make my point, but it has proven to be effective. You can’t go through the world with blinders on ignoring everything and everyone you judge as negative. There are many roads to the same destination.

With that said, I present today’s photos of Riverlink Park. It is Memorial Day weekend and the park still needs work to get it ready for the season. Why is our park and Concession not ready for business on the traditional start of summer?  Where are the new floating boat docks needed to dock at Riverlink Park? Why are the boat electrical hookups not completed? Why are the missing lampposts not replaced? Why aren’t the park benches painted? It seems all the city’s efforts went in to repairing the concession stand and erecting a tent. We are only getting $300 rent for the entire season from the concessionaire. We are loosing potential revenue from boat docking fees that could be charged if we were ready

The 2012 Riverlink Concert Series begins on July 7th with the return of the Chandler Travis Philharmonic. The full schedule of performers can be found here. It is a great venue and it’s free!

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

Dame’s Rocket


Blooming throughout the wooded areas of Amsterdam, NY this time of year is Hesperis Matronalis a herbaceous plant species of the mustard family commonly known as Dame’s Rocket.  They have clusters of flowers at the top of three-foot stalks that are purple, white or a combination of the two colors. This year must have been a particularly good year for the invasive plant because it can be seen everywhere in numbers that look like carpeting on the forest floors. There is an especially large group across from my house on the southern bank of Green Hill Cemetery.

Categories: Amsterdam, Art, Photography | Tags: , , , ,

Amsterdam’s Spring Fling


Donna Dickerson and the Spring Fling Committee did an outstanding job this year organizing Amsterdam’s 2nd annual Spring Fling. It was bigger and better than last years event. There was music, food, drink, a car show, a bike show, a Wresting Hall of Fame induction.  There were snakes and lawyers, clowns and politicians, although you would be hard pressed at times to tell the difference. There were religious groups and my friends in the World Peace and Health Organization were there with gifts of surveillance cameras they want to give to our City to help the Amsterdam Police keep an eye on things. There were twice as many vendors as last year and it seemed three times as many visitors as Amsterdam’s Main Street turned into a sea of people on this hot day in May.

I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story.

There are so many images, I had to make use of the slide show feature to view them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For those that want to compare, last years Spring Fling images can be found here

 

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

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