Villa challenges idea of city “renaissance”



In response to the mayor of the City of Amsterdam’s recent letter to the editor. Renaissance: “The activity, spirit or time of the great revival of art, literature, and learning in Europe beginning in the 14th century and extending to the 17th century marking the transition from medieval to the modern world”.

During the term of the current mayor, we hear this term being used quite often, as she believes it relates to Amsterdam. We hear the Mayor make reference to it, in print, on social media or local radio. Like the majority of people in the city, I am all for optimism but we all need to stay focused on the facts to move us forward. The city has hundreds of homes that have not been foreclosed on and our current administration has had 7+ years to address this issue and yet, none of us are seeing the results that we should.

While approaching a mayoral election we will all be told repeatedly that our city is moving ahead with some forty foreclosures, yet we have continued to send tens of thousands of dollars to the school district on properties that should have been foreclosed on.

We are seeing press releases from city officials for recent grants and economic development funds. As a resident of the city I enthusiastically applaud all the agencies involved in obtaining these funds including the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development and Planning, Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency, Montgomery County Capital Resource Corporation and also would include our State Legislature and the Governor. Let us not forget  the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency (AIDA), Urban Renewal and the skill and knowledge of individuals like Nick Zabawsky.

The Mayor should be concentrating on the day-to-day operations of the city and not grandstanding or taking ownership of these grants.

We have approximately 24 million dollars of debt, and in the past 7+ years we have yet to see this administration address the numerous requests by both New York State Comptroller office audits as well as those done privately. These requests were made beginning in 2009. Why are we now beginning to address them fully? I am a strong proponent of making our City aesthetically appealing but please don’t ask residents to believe that a walkway and a few “boutiques” are going to be our “Renaissance”. The facts are – we have a growing population of residents at or below the poverty level, a declining tax base and a growing budget. Approximately 70% of all Social Service recipients in the county reside in Amsterdam. Our leadership must become more fiscally responsible, borrowing, bonding, and relying on the state for help are not the answers. We need to fix our infrastructure; cooperate with our neighbors, market our water, put teeth into code enforcement and manage the day-to-day operations of the city. The mayor’s office needs to place confidence in the agencies that get paid to bring economic development to our area. These are my beliefs today, if elected to the Office of the Mayor of our city of Amsterdam and will continue to be should I have that privilege.

Michael J Villa,
Amsterdam, NY

The author is a candidate for mayor of the City of Amsterdam