Council puts hold on land bank funding, Purtell clarifies numbers


While members of the common council expressed support for the idea of funding the land bank program, the resolution to fund the program with $60,000 was tabled to allow more time to work out a smaller initial payment that would fully cover the rest of the costs of finishing the work being done at 35 Julia St.

“I’m in favor of the land bank, I think it’s a great idea,” said 1st Ward Alderman Ed Russo, “The problem I have right now is the $60,000.”

Citing the uncertainty of the exact amount of the fund balance, Russo suggested that a smaller initial payment of $15,000 be paid out of the fund balance so that work on the Julia St. property could be completed and the property put up for sale in June, also suggesting the remaining $45,000 could be included in the upcoming budget.

However it was not clear if the $15,000 would be exactly enough to finish the job. According to Controller Matthew Agresta, “we don’t have definite numbers for the cost of insurance, maintenance and rehabilitation,” and later added that if $15,000 was not enough to finish the project then “we wasted the money.”

Council members voted unanimously to table the motion until the exact numbers could be determined.

Earlier in the public participation portion of the meeting, Robert Purtell, Chairman of the Land Bank Advisory Committee for the City of Amsterdam, spoke to clear up what he described as rumors and a possible misquote in the local media with regards to the work that has been done so far at the Julia St. property.

According to Purtell, volunteers removed trash from the home while two city employees were utilized to operate a garbage truck. Purtell explained that after consulting with Public Works Foreman Ray Halgas, he estimated the total cost to the city, including overtime, truck rental and tipping fees for disposal of the 15 tons of garbage amounted to about $1,350 to $1,500.

This figure contradicts a quote attributed to Purtell in the local media citing the cost as between $5,000 and $6,000. Purtell explained that he received estimates from contractors to do the entire job that amounted to those figures, which could possibly explain the confusion.

Tim Becker

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