Blogs > Troy Talk

Record staffers bring you information on the comings and goings of New York's Collar City.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gordon to annouce his candidacy

Lansingburgh resident and community advocate, Jim Gordon will be announcing his candidacy for the soon-to-be-vacant District 1 seat on the City Council Thursday morning. He is expected to face off against Democratic candidate Kevin McGrath for the seat in November.

From a press release on the announcement:
"An organizer of the North Lansingburgh Neighborhood Watch and chairman of the Uncle Sam Parade Committee, Jim’s primary interest in seeking this position is to help keep Lansingburgh a family‐friendly place to live, work, and play. He aims to achieve this by strengthening the
many positive aspects of the community, while identifying the root causes for quality of life issues and eradicating them. He expects to work collaboratively with people of diverse opinions and ideas to forge consensus on the difficult and debatable issues that will face the city. Jim looks upon this office as an opportunity to continue his commitment to community service.

Jim is a life‐long resident of Troy and with his wife, Melissa, owns a home in Lansingburgh. Jim received a degree in Business Management from Delhi College. Now 29 years old, Jim works for Schrader and Company,Inc., a residential remodeling and cabinetmaking firm, as Director of the Business and Public divisions. Just as Jim continues to contribute to his community, he does so for the industry in‐which he earns his living. Jim has served on several board‐of‐directors for local business and trade associations. Jim has over 10 years experience working for small‐businesses in the residential and commercial construction industry. As a proven leader, Jim’s experience and his unwavering approach will prove to be vital in the coming years in Lansingburgh.

Understanding how to successfully identify and leverage future investment in residential and commercial economical development, within today’s 'new' economy, will be vital to the continued stability of Lansingburgh and the city of Troy."

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Friday, May 22, 2009

City could soon have a new hardware store

Do-it-yourselfers looking to support a local business rather than a big box store when it comes to purchasing their hardware needs may be in luck.

Only weeks after it was announced that Trojan Hardware would be closing its doors of its historic Congress Street location, it seems that another hardware store could soon be cropping up in the city's downtown.

A job listing on the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce's Web site ( shows that Jeff and Deane Pfeil, who own the Conservatory, Powers Park Lofts, and several other properties in Saratoga and Clifton Park, are looking for someone to manage such a store.

According to the listing, the goal of the position will be to "develop (the) store's reputation for excellent quality, selection and service from day one."

When contacted by The Record for comment and information on the project Friday, Deane Pfeil said that she was not ready to reveal any information on the new venture just yet, but said that she was looking for a new location in downtown and had no plans to takeover the former Trojan Hardware building.

The manager position could pay anywhere from $25,000-$50,000 a year, with the store anticipated to be open by August, according to the listing.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Verizon is almost ready - still no elevator

Members of the City Council met Tuesday to discuss the fact that there is still no elevator installed in the former Verizon Building on Sixth Avenue, the future home of City Hall, as was required under the city's lease agreement with Judge Development Corporation.

During the Law Committee meeting, the councilmen reviewed information from JDC on some of the delays regarding the elevator's installation, including the fact that an elevator had not yet been purchased and that it could likely take approximately 12 weeks to acquire one.

"So we're talking about sometime around Labor Day before we see an elevator in Verizon," said Councilman Bill Dunne, D-District 4, who factored an additional two weeks into his estimate for the elevator's installation.

Dunne also stated that he believed the council should pass legislation at their June meeting to cease payments on the city's lease for the property because Judge had violated the lease contract, which stated that an elevator should have been installed by March 1.

Corporation Counsel Charlie Sarris, who declined to discuss whether such legislation, or even the possibility of litigation, were options for the city in this matter while a reporter for The Record was present.

"From my perspective, as the attorney for the city, I would take every hardball position I could in moving forward with this," said Sarris.

Sarris also noted that he planned to meet with Sam Judge Thursday to further discuss the matter.

Besides the elevator, city workers have nearly completed interior rennovations to the building and the offices of various departments could be moved to their new home within the next two weeks.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Love the library? Take a cruise!

The Troy Public Library today announced its upcoming "I Love My Library" cruise to be held on June 18 at 6:30 p.m.

The library was forced to close down it's Lansingburgh and Sycaway satellite branches earlier this year because it's budget could not support the level of demand for its services at all three branches.

Library officials are also working to raise enough funds to support the installation of an elevator in the historic downtown branch.

Here's the announcement:

"Relax and enjoy a three hour cruise down the Hudson River aboard the Captain JP II and support the Troy Public Library at the same time!

The Captain JP II is a modern luxurious yacht with four decks and a capacity of 600 passengers. Its three climate controlled enclosed decks can seat in excess of 500 guests for dinner, while still allowing plenty of room on the open air decks for strolling or dancing the night away under the stars.

Cruise includes the following:

  • Buffet dinner - hand carved top round, vegetable lasagna, chicken florentine, tossed salad, choice of potato or rice, a vegetable medley, rolls and butter, coffee, tea, and dessert.
  • Entertainment provided by a jazz combo on the upper deck and a DJ for dancing.
  • A cash bar will be available.

Cost for the evening is $65 per person.

Please call the library at 274-7071 for tickets and additional information."

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

AD: More firefighters at Station 2 will improve safety

Members of the Troy Uniformed Firefighters Association, the union for the city's Fire Department, have taken out a full-page advertisement in Thursday's edition of The Record calling for the city to accept a nearly $900,000 federal SAFER grant which officials have considered declining because of the lost-term costs to the city.

Mayor Harry Tutunjian's administration announced last week that they were uncertain whether they would accept the grant to hire eight new firefighters because, while the grant helps to offset the cost of the hires on a declining scale over five years, they would still cost the city roughly $3.5 million in salary and benefit costs.

The UFA disagreed and believed nearly all but $400,000 could be recovered from additional ambulance revenue that could be made if the fire department could more consitently man its aparatus at Station 2, one of the busiest in the city, with the additional men.

UFA President Dave Paul has noted in the past that the staffing issues at Station 2, the Bouton Road firehouse, prevent firefighters from operating both the station's ambulance and fire engine at the same time.

Additionally, the ad calls attention to how the station's call volume has increased by 56 percent, with a 30 percent increase across the rest of the city, how now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had supported the grant when she was a state senator, as well as how fire doubles in size every minute and that death is a possiblity after four to six minutes without emergency care.

UFA officials are expected to discuss the matter further with the City Council next Thursday during the council's Finance Comittee meeting.

Sarris said to resign from outside employment

Corporation Counsel Charlie Sarris has reportedly decided to resign his position as a deputy town attorney in the town of North Greenbush, according to City Councilman Bill Dunne, D-District 4.

Dunne said that he recieved a letter from Sarris today stating that he would soon be resigning from the position.

Sarris had received a memo from City Council President Clement Campana, D-At Large, last Thursday requesting that he provide his letter of resignation for his North Greenbush position prior to the council meeting later that night where councilmen had planned to vote on his official appointment to the position of corporation counsel.

During the meeting, Sarris had told the council that he was hurt by there request when two weeks prior, none of them had openly objected to his outside jobs during a Finance Committee meeting.

Dunne noted that the council will still need to vote on Sarri's appointment since the resolution was tabled during the meeting.

"We're going to have to (vote on his approval), but we do want to see the official letter of resignation to North Greenbush first," said Dunne. "It's not that we don't believe Mr. Sarris, but we certainly want all our T's crossed and I's dotted."

Look for further information on the matter over the next few days from Troy Talk and The Record.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Approved CDBG transfers

The City Council voted Thursday to transfer $135,000 of Community Development Block Grant funding from city services such as street paving and vacant building demolition to a number of local neighborhood groups.

The groups and projects which will be funded include the following:

First Street Improvement Project (Think First Neighborhood) - $5,000
Mt. Ida Neighborhood Center Project (Mt. Ida Preservation) - $10,000
Second St. Sidewalk/Curbing Project (Burden Ironworks Neighborhood) - $20,000
South Troy Street Improvements (Burden Ironworks Neighborhood) - $20,000
Stow Ave. Streetscape Improvements (Stow Farm Neighborhood) - $35,000
Troy Little Italy Revitalization Project (Troy Little Italy) - $10,000
Two-Way Fourth Street Sidewalk/Curb (Burden Ironworks Neighborhood - $20,000
Woodside Block Improvements (Contemporary Artists Center) - $5,000
112th Street Bridge Gateway Park (North Lansingburgh Neighborhood) - $10,000

The council also moved $10,000 to both the YWCA's Ready for Work program and the Troy Public Library for installation of an elevator, along with $5,000 for the Italian Community Center's Westside Learning Center.

Councilman Mark Wojcik, R-District 1, made a motion to zero out all of the neighborhood funding and put the money back into city services because neighborhood projects are often left unfinished with organizers coming to the city looking for help.

Mayor Harry Tutunjian had also previously stated that he felt it was wrong to remove money from street improvements and put it into the council's own "pet pork projects."

"We reviewed the mayor's recommendations and found that many groups and neighborhoods were denied funding by the mayor," said Council President Clement Campana, D-At Large. "This is not acceptable considering CDBG money is geared specifically to low and moderate income neighborhoods most in need of assistance."

Members of the council's Democratic majority also touted how their increase of funding to rehab existing housing properties, from $356,000 to $396,000, would allow owner occupied homes for less money than was previously spent on building new structures.

Additionally, they discussed how neighborhoods were in true need of the money they received and that Tutunjian was wrong to refer to them as pork.

"It seems he (Tutunjian) has forgotten the purpose of the HUD program and the tens of thousands of dollars that he allocated to neighborhood groups during his tenure on the council," said Councilman Ken Zalewski, D-District 5. "While the mayor's priorities have shifted away from our struggling neighborhoods, this council will remain steadfast in its continued support for Troy's neighborhood groups."

Councilman Mark McGrath, R-District 2, issued a statement Friday saying that he was outraged by the majority's actions during their regular meeting and that it was inferred that the head no intentions on funding Lansingburgh projecs in the future.

"Council President Campana sits on the board of the CYO, and openly campaigns for funneling money into that program at the expense of others," said McGrath. "Meanwhile the Lansingburgh Boys and Girls Club is going to suffer in the future because of its location. There are members of this City Council that forget those of us in Lansingburgh are part of Troy as well.

McGrath also criticized the council for finalizing their changes only an hour before the council meeting and not allowing the public to have ample time to respond or comment on the alterations.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Council to vote on funding changes

The City Council will vote tonight on changes they have proposed to the city’s one year action plan.

Members of the council met Tuesday in a meeting of the Planning Committee to make amendments to Mayor Harry Tutunjian’s proposed plan, which included funding amounts for Community Development Block Grants, Emergency Shelter Grant funding, and HOME Program funding.

Most notably, the council proposed moving $100,000 from the city’s street paving program and dispersed it among several community groups and projects, including the following: First Street Improvement Project, Mt. Ida Neighborhood Center Project, Second Street Sidewalk Project, South Troy Street Improvements, Stow Ave Streetscape Improvements, Troy Little Italy Revitalization Project, Fourth Street Sidewalk Project, Woodside Block Improvements and the 112th Street Bridge Gateway Park.

The council also transferred $40,000 from the proposed third phase of the Troy Homes Project, where new homes would be built off Project Road, into funding for the Troy Housing Development Corporation and transferred $10,000 from other funding sources to the Troy Public Library toward the installation of an elevator.

Mayor Harry Tutunjian said that there was not much transparency behind the council’s decisions.

“I’m troubled that the Democratic council majority is looking to remove money from street paving and from the demolition of derelict and dangerous buildings to fund pet pork projects in their neighborhoods which are very hard to manage and often don’t get done,” said Tutunjian.

Councilmen Mark Wojcik, R-District 1, and Mark McGrath, R-District 2, also raised concerns that Lansingburgh groups were not being funded in the plan.

“To the victor goes the spoils,” said McGrath. “They’re using the CDBG funds to run their re-election campaign."

The council will vote on the final spending plan tonight during their regular meeting at 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers at City Hall.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rally/hearing on school district budget

Members of the public will have their first chance to speak out Wednesday regarging a $95.1 million budget for the Enlarged City School District of Troy.

The public hearing is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. on May 6 in the Doyle Middle School auditorium.

On April 1, the Board of Education unanimously adopted the budget, which included plans to remove a total 62.8 fulltime equivalent positions by the end of June to balance the district's finances.

In addition, members of the Troy Teacher's Association will hold a rally outside of the auditorium beginning at 5:30 p.m, according to TTA President Seth Cohen.

"The idea is that it’s not a protest, but it’s for support of the 50-odd members of our association that have been laid off," said Cohen.

Residents will vote on whether to approve the proposed budget on May 19.

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