Common council meeting highlights for July 5, 2016

Council outlines tentative time line for property sales

Members of the common council are hoping the city’s codes department will complete two critical tasks at the end of this week in order to move forward with the sale of hundreds of city owned properties. The first is to finalize a list of city owned properties which warrant demolition, as well as to make sure the city has access to 26 properties that the council previously agreed would be sold directly to buyers.

At a Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, Alderman Jim Martuscello presented a “plan of action” that outlined the steps necessary to sell the properties, beginning with having codes officers visit each property and make sure that the city was able to enter into the properties in order to show them at a later date. Alderman Chad Majewski proposed that the city should start advertising the 26 properties beginning July 15, with open houses conducted by the codes department beginning the last week of July and continuing through the first week of August. Majewski proposed the deadline for bids on the properties should be August 12, with a meeting of the Property and Disposition Committee on August 15 to choose the winning bids, followed by an official council vote to transfer the properties on August 16.

Council members agreed informally to the plan and time-line. However, an official date to auction properties not slated for demolition or direct sale has not been set yet.

Properties transferred to land-bank

The council voted unanimously to transfer seven properties to the Land Reutilization Corporation of the Capital Region (land bank) of which the City of Amsterdam is a member of.

For rehabilitation:

  • 131-133 Guy Park Avenue

  • 56 Lincoln Avenue

  • 30 Austin Street

  • 33 James Street

  • 217-219 Brookside Avenue

For demolition:

  • 98 Division Street

  • 155-157 Division Street

According to Controller Matt Agresta, the land bank is ready to work on the properties, but had been waiting to receive the titles to the properties.

Creative Connections Clubhouse will open in August

Ann Rhodes, executive director of the Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery County Prevention Council, spoke at the beginning of the common council meeting and gave an update on the progress to open the city-owned Creative Connections building for use as a clubhouse for teens struggling with substance abuse. The organization received a $250,000 grant from New York State earlier in the year to operate the program and renovate the building. Rhodes said that work had recently been completed to remove two old back doors to the building which weren’t being utilized. She also introduced TJ Czeski as the director of the clubhouse. Czeski added that he had been working on landscaping the lawn, bringing electrical wiring up to code, and installing a security system. He said that the clubhouse plans to hold an open house on August 3.

Council votes 4-1 in favor of renewing contract with library

The council approved a resolution to provide $10,000 in annual funding to the Amsterdam Free Library for the year. The amount of funding had been reduced from $60,000 in the 2016-2017 budget which was approved by the council in May. The reduction came in light of a successful referendum earlier in May in which voters approved an extra school tax that would provide approximately $200,000 to the library each year.

Alderman Ed Russo cast the only no vote, citing the recent referendum

“I don’t think we should take any more money from the taxpayers than we already have,” said Russo.

“I have nothing against the library, I love the library, I think they’re doing a great job,” he added.

Tim Becker

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