Mayor Michael Villa delivered his second State of the City speech at City Hall yesterday. The full text of the speech is available on the city’s website.
Villa opened by saying, “I am pleased and eager to share a number of our successes and talk about some of the challenges that lie ahead. First I want to thank the common council for working proactively together this past year – a hands on working relationship that I am confident will continue through 2016. The same appreciation to the city’s department heads who step up to the plate daily and ensure that internal business of the city is conducted professionally.”
Some highlights of the speech include:
Villa commended Controller Matt Agresta for his work on the city’s financials over the past year in which the required state reporting for years 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 were filed. An independent audit for the 2013-2014 financials was completed, and the audit for the 2014-2015 financials is underway. Villa said that Agresta is anticipating the state report for the 2015-2016 financials will be complete in April. Villa said that the city is now the “closest to current” with it financials that it has been in six years.
Villa said that continued work is needed to reconcile the city’s capital project account. According to Villa, money from capital accounts was used for general fund expenses in previous years. According to Agresta, a re-payment from the general fund to the capital project account may be required. Villa said that some projects may be cancelled or delayed until the finances can be worked out.
Villa touted the cooperation between the city and the county on economic development projects, citing the recent award of $500,000 in state funding toward a business incubator program at the Clock Tower building and $200,000 in state funding to form a micro-enterprise grant program. Both projects are being spearheaded by the county.
Two projects led by the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency were also cited, including the expansion and relocation of Memory Lane Daycare from Perth to Amsterdam, which is expected to create 14 jobs, and work to secure a Restore NY grant for Cranesville Properties to renovate the former Wrestling Hall of Fame building.
Other projects currently being pursued include a feasibility study for the relocation of the train station, for which requests for proposals have been issued, the Chuctanunda Creek trail, and the creation of a culinary incubator.
Parks and Recreation
Villa commended the cooperation between the city, county, and local businesses who contributed to the creation of a new basketball and skate park behind Centro Civico on East Main Street. Future plans for the park include an addition of a “half pipe” for skaters, additional playground equipment, and a splash park.
He also highlighted successful events held in conjunction with the newly opened Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge, such as the Italiafest, trick or treating, and the Christmas tree lighting.
Other successes cited were the completion of the 9-11 monument, renovations at Sirchia Park, Spring Fling, National Night Out, and the city’s summer camp.
According to Villa, Union College will begin playing all their home games at Shuttleworth park in 2017.
Villa commended the new transportation director, Fabrizia Rodriguez, for setting up new routes for the city’s buses which connect residents to the area’s major employers, shopping centers, and schools. Service to Schenectady’s casino is also planned for 2017.
Villa said that design work for a $5 million project to upgrade the city’s sewer system and prevent discharges of untreated waste is currently underway. He expects construction will take place later in the year.
Other projects he expects to begin in 2017 include a project to reduce potential contamination to the river from the wastewater treatment plant, reconstruction of the Dove Creek flood walls, and improvements to storm drainage on the West End of the city.
In conclusion, Villa said, “In the year ahead, we will continue to work for a thriving and innovative future for Amsterdam. The challenges are not insurmountable. I know this by the successes we have achieved this year.”