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Area residents speak on a variety of subjects at council meeting

The “C&D Landfill” idea, a “quiet zone” for trains, and a new bike business, were just three of the topics brought up by several area residents who spoke during the public comments portion of Tuesday’s common council meeting.

Construction and Debris”

John “Chet” Watroba spoke in support of the ordinance to change the terms of golf commission members, and complained about an ongoing property issue on Forest Ave. He also brought up a controversial plan from the past to build a construction and demolition landfill in the City of Amsterdam in order to generate revenue for the city and offset property taxes.

“Over eight years ago…former mayor [Joe Emanuele] and [former mayor] Ann Thane, during the election, it was brought up about a landfill. I was against that landfill. But I had gotten information from an individual and I also saw some stories on PBS, Public Broadcasting, where the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos both [built their stadiums] on clean landfills. So this would generate income and would help the taxpayer out in the City of Amsterdam. So I think that we should look into that… I was very impressed, I went to Foxborough [Massachusetts] and I did see the Patriots. And when I found out later on that they’re playing on a clean landfill, I couldn’t believe it, how nice that stadium is. So I’m kinda wondering if we can check that out. Like I said, both [former mayors] were against it, and maybe with this new administration we can look into that and see if that has any potential.”

Mayor Michael Villa responded, “Don’t call it a landfill, its construction and debris. That’s why people don’t want it, because they think garbage is going in it.”

“Right, that’s why they have to be better informed,” said Watroba. “Because when I got the information through the mail, actually it was Mike Chiara who sent me the information. And I looked at it and I thought, boy this is good…I think this would be good for the city.”

Property complaint

David Gomula appeared wearing work gloves and carrying a bag with a roofing shingle in it to illustrate his complaint about an abandoned property adjacent to his on Brookside Ave.

“I’ve been here before, complaining about the house next door to me. How bad it is, why it hasn’t come down. I’ve gotten reasons because the auction isn’t [scheduled] yet, have to foreclose on the owner, blah, blah, blah, but the roof is still sound. But it isn’t. This morning this blew off the roof next to me,” said Gomula holding up the bag with the roofing shingle in it. “This junk that I hate to touch, fell on my tenant’s car. What’s next, are the rafters going to come down? It’s unsafe, there’s holes in the roof.”

Gomula asked when the auction of foreclosed properties would be and whether the property was on the demolition list. Controller Matt Agresta said the property would be foreclosed on, but was not sure if it was scheduled for demolition. He said that he was working on paperwork that had to be filed with the state and county before the auction could proceed.

“I can’t make it move any faster than it’s going,” said Agresta.

New bike rental vendor

David Moore, from the Town of Florida, announced he was planning on opening a new business in the spring.

“I’m hoping to open a bike and surrey rental place near the bike trail over on Bridge Street this spring. Just wanted to bring that out and see if you had any input. Hopefully I’ll be contributing to the tourism here…It will be a mobile business over on Bridge Street. Everything will be off a truck on a small trailer.”

Moore said he is in the process of obtaining a peddler’s permit from the city.

“Looking forward to you coming to the city with a business,” said Villa.

Quiet Zone” for trains

Christian Rivera proposed an idea for reducing the sound of train whistles passing through the city.

“The World Health Organization, the [Environmental Protection Agency], National Institute of Health, everybody recognizes the harmful effects of noise.” said Rivera.

He then quoted seven adverse effects of noise pollution cited by the WHO, which include hearing impairment, interference in communication, sleep disturbances, cardiovascular disturbances, disturbances in mental health, impaired task performance, and negative social behavior and annoyances.”

According to Rivera, “In 1973, [Housing and Urban Development] did a survey that [identified] noise as a leading cause of neighborhood dissatisfaction.”

“What I’m hoping we can do is establish a ‘quiet zone’ for train whistle noise,” said Rivera.

Citing information from the Federal Railroad Administration website, River said a quiet zone is a quarter-mile stretch around a public crossing, such as the one on Guy Park Ave, within which a train would not be required to sound a warning whistle. In order for the city to qualify for a quiet zone, additional “supplementary safety measures” would have to be implemented to mitigate the increased safety risk, and possibly a diagnostic team would need to be assembled to look at the situation and make recommendations. Rivera said he thought the project might cost somewhere between $13,000 to $15,000.

“The effects of noise pollution just cant’ be denied. It’s something the city really needs,” said Rivera and asked the council to consider moving ahead quickly with the idea.

Drug testing for teens

Dr. Govind Rao urged the council to pass a resolution on the agenda which would express support for New York State Senate bill S7934. The bill states, “Every child twelve years of age or older but younger than nineteen years of age may as part of his or her annual physical provided by a health care professional, be screened for the use of drugs.” The bill also requires insurance companies to cover the cost of the test.

Rao said, “I have had families, where the parents, they come to my office in complete shock, that their kids [are suffering from] drug addiction. And they don’t even know, most of them. Because both parents are working hard to make ends meet. They trust the kids, especially the teenagers, to go to the games, homework, the parties, and whatever they want to do, they do. And they do have in their mind, though, that children may get involved with drug addiction. But even though they are vigilant, sometimes it is very hard. Because once the child gets involved, the first thing they do is they hide, they lie. They don’t want to reveal there’s a problem.”

Rao stressed that drug addiction is classified as a disease, and that CAT scans and MRI’s prove that addiction changes how the human brain works. Rao compared the idea of drug testing to current mandates for children to be tested for various diseases and lead poisoning. The council later passed the resolution unanimously.

Neighborhood Watch

Jim Glorioso, founder of Mohawk Valley Crime Stoppers, a non-profit organization that provides a crime tip hotline and crime prevention information, called on the council to help get the city’s neighborhood watch program up and running again.

“We’ve kind of fell off the neighborhood watch community organization effort. Over the last three years that I’ve been here, I’ve been involved in it. We’ve had regular meetings with previous leadership and [Police Chief Greg Culick]. It was great communication, to figure out what’s going on in our community,” said Glorioso.

Glorioso said he was speaking on behalf of Georgia O’Connor who has led the organization for the past several years, but is currently occupied with caring for one of her children with a serious illness. Glorioso said he is willing to assist with the group, but was not able to lead it due to time commitments to the Crime Stoppers program.

“We really need your help in identifying someone who can take over, or at least assist Georgia with the neighborhood watch program, so that we don’t let it just fall down. Because it’s really necessary in this area,” said Glorioso.

Glorioso also suggested a law that he had seen instituted in another community where pawn shops are required to report their purchases via an electronic system. He said law enforcement officers investigating thefts could then access the purchase information via a website.

Softened up

Anthony Leggiero, a foreman at the city department of public works said, “Tonight I was going to read to you something that I prepared at about five o’clock this afternoon about events that recently occurred, actually since May of last year. But you know what, Dr. Rao really softened me up being that I have a newborn baby boy. And Dave Gomula just asked me if I wanted to go back under the veteran’s commission. So with that being said, I’m not going to bore you with anything I have written up about the City of Amsterdam municipal service commission tonight. There will be another time and another place for this. I’m going to call it to all of your attention, and we’ll see where it goes from there.”


About Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of LLC which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.

16 Responses to Area residents speak on a variety of subjects at council meeting

  1. Unaddressed problems with landfill (for the hundredth time.):

  2. AvatarSteven says:

    I really like the idea of a construction and debris landfill, that could generate some good income for the city. Even a small amount could really help turn things around. They’re actually pretty safe and it’s just a matter of installing the right lining and setting things up so it doesn’t bother people.

    • Yeah. Forget the identified problems articulated in the report. Just ignore them. Don’t even read the report.

      • AvatarSteven says:

        Hard to compare apples and oranges, I just think that the dangers are a bit overstated and its worth taking another look at, could be very beneficial to the city if it’s done right.

  3. AvatarDon says:

    Mandatory drug testing? No. Likely pay over one hundred dollars for all kinds of drug testing? No. There is no free money, you will pay for it one way or another. Drug use a disease? No, it is a choice and a behavior that is best controlled by social pressure and realizing that it is completely normal to consume processed plants – coca, marijuana, poppies, mushrooms etc.

    Of course such a wide all encompassing definition of diseases, is an attempt to bring a stigma to a quite normal behavior. By the same measure sugar, cow milk and bacon eaters have a disease they are in denial about. Drug test all cow milk, sugar and bacon eaters yearly for their own good and the harm they cause others.

  4. AvatarLuis says:

    Ann Thane, maybe you can tell us why your pushing for a recreation center w/kids on an illegal dump off 4 th St. known for illegal unclassified waste But yet your against a clean c & d landfill off Edson St.?

    • AvatarBob boles says:

      If you read the articular her claims were that the landfill didnt meet with the vision of the citys comprehensive plan at the time . Ann must have felt that the recreation center was a better fit for what she had in mind for the city . I for one hope that Mayor Villa and the common council make the right choices as for whats in the best interest for the future of Amsterdam .

    • AvatarTim Becker says:

      As I recall, when the idea was being tossed around, that the intent was to clean up the property at the five corners before building a rec center on it. I think it’s a really big stretch to compare the two issues.

      • AvatarLuis says:

        A clean up project would add +10-20 years of time to the project, if the proposal were to go on the old City of Amsterdam, landfill. As far as these two projects are a sretch to compare is noting more than a brush off.

        The only difference between the projects is that the Clean c&d landfill will help reduce the city debt where as the repurpose of the P&C site will add debt to the city.

        Both projects are essentially; removal of the current ground soil and replacement of the removed dirty soil with clean-fill material.

      • AvatarTim Becker says:

        The other way of looking at it is that cleaning up an old landfill and putting something like a rec center on it would increase property values and help stabilize the neighborhood, which would benefit the city long-term. Adding a new landfill would likely depress property values, which could do more harm to the city long-term than the potential revenue would offset.

  5. AvatarLuis says:

    How are you concluding that a rec. center would increase property values in that neighborhood?

    The 5 corners is a high car count location, ideal for retail uses as its visibility is high. That brings in saless tax revenue plus the property taxes collected.

    A rec. center would do the opposite, by removing potential property taxes and eliminate any sales tax revenue. 5 corners should be an economic redevelopment for business use that generates tax revenue not eliminate revenue from the city coffers.

    • AvatarTim Becker says:

      Oh I dunno – I just figured a rec center is something fun – people like fun things – people like to live near places they can have fun, call me crazy I guess. Right now the property is not generating any revenue. You’ve already bemoaned the “10-20 years” you think it will take to clean up the place, so based on your sentiment, what chance is there of doing anything with that plot? And now you want to add another landfill to the same area? What exactly is your recipe for success in that area?

      • AvatarLuis says:

        It seems that when you don’t like a response you then start asking more question without even answering the first question asked of you “how will a rec. Center improve property values”, your answer you dunno!

        How about given us an example of a similar project that raised property values like this? Any? Do you have any basis other than it’s fun to say that this property should be taken of the tax rolls rather than developed for retail sales as the current Zoning in that area requires?

      • AvatarLuis says:

        While the placement of a rec. center will come with positives, it also will come with negatives, primarily added noise, added traffic and visual. When looking for locations for placement prime retail space should be taken off the map. We have little retail sales and zero growth. Removing potential sales and property tax revenues from what can be prime retail space should not be an option but seeking the redevelopment of this 5 corners location should not end for the purpose of creating development that helps the city be sustainable.

        A rec. center is much needed but with good planning. Any discussion about the 5 corners is a Pandora box of debt. Mark my words.

      • AvatarTim Becker says:

        Your response was fine and I answered your question. Developments that are desirable attract people and raise property values in the vicinity, simple as that. Am I wrong? Landfills do the opposite. Am I wrong?

        You dismissed the rec center idea because you claim it would take too long to clean up. But yet that isn’t an issue for a residential/retail development as well? It’s a problem for any type of development, wouldn’t you agree? I’m fine with the idea of either a rec center or residential/retail development on that area, I think either would be wonderful. But right now, no one’s going to invest on that plot until someone cleans it up. What do you think the chances of a private developer doing that? Now add in the factor of a landfill or even the potential for a landfill in that area – do you think that will make it any more attractive to developers?

        Let me be clear – I’m not married to an idea of a rec center on that property. And I would agree with you that in a perfect world, retail would make more sense there due to the traffic. But I think the government is going to have to clean that property up first in order for anything to go there. I don’t think private developers are going to take the risk, especially with the prospect floating around of yet another landfill going into that area. So as long as we avoid the problem, mark my words, nothing’s going to happen there.

    • AvatarRob Millan says:

      Retail benefits the entire city; not the property values of a particular neighborhood. There is no direct correlation. Take a look at the constant fight at Fastrac and tell me those neighbors are thrilled about the retail presence there.