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

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Planning Board to vote on negative declaration for Euclid Ave. development

Update: City Planner Sondra Little confirmed that the declaration will be voted on at the next Planning Board meeting, scheduled for September 16. A full copy of the declaration, including the mitigation conditions, is available through the Planning Department or Wednesday's issue of The Record.

The Planning Board has posted notice in the classified section of Wednesday's issue of The Record that they have made a Conditional Negative Declaration as part of the State Environmental Quality Review process for a proposed development of 13 high-end homes off Euclid Avenue.

At the July meeting, the Board delayed preliminary approval of the project, saying they would make a final decision at the August meeting unless there were any unforeseen issues. Read more about that meeting here.

The August Planning Board results (.pdf) on the city website do not list the project, so it is not immediately clear whether the negative declaration will be approved at the September meeting. The legal notice says that there are a number of mitigation plans that have been imposed to remedy potential changes to air quality, flooding, drainage and other problems. A major concern of neighbors in the area has been the potential for the project to increase radon levels.

Check back for more details on the negative declaration and an update on where the project stands.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stow Ave Block Party

This past Saturday was the 2010 Stow Ave. Block Party, organized by Charlene Dobert, president of the Stow Farms Neighborhood Association. The event featured food, snow cones, bouncy bounces and other kids activities and more, offering residents a chance to meet and socialize with each other as well as some elected officials. In an e-mail, Dobert thanked the many that pitched in to make the event possible.

I want to give a special thanks to some people who made a special effort to recognize our neighborhood and contribute food or services. They are: Gary Galuski our Councilman, Clem Campagna our Council President, Mike Laporto one of our At Large Council Representatives and he brought his friend Tom who helped man the cooker... and whose company is always enjoyable, Colleen Goldstein who is a Community Police Officer who never stops for a moment with helping us out in anyway possible, she has offered us so many things I don't even know where to begin, Mark Millington also a Police Officer in Troy who now is assigned to Troy High School but at one time was in our neighborhood servicing us as well, Debbie from the Springs Re-hab Center who has also helped us out many times supplying our meeting place, food (yummy, thanks to the Chef) and tables, The Beverage Mart in South Troy who keeps us in/on ice and Guiliano's rentals on Pawling Ave who donates the Snow Cone Machine.

It was so nice to see my friend Richard Herrick and his wealth of knowledge, and another surprise was a visit from Brant of The Working Mans Party and also of The East Side which I'm partial to as well (that is where I grew up and my Mother is still there). As for the Neighborhood people you're outstanding and that's why we all do it. We have some very talented cooks in this neighborhood and I certainly enjoyed sampling their goodies! A special thanks to my daughter Danielle Lyle who does the balloon art, a very special tedious talent. She brought smiles to so many young and old, it was so heartfelt to see our seniors from the Springs enjoy a special item she made just for them individually, for once we can smile. Also, a special thanks to my other two daughters Jean Vooris and Tammie Broadhead who without their help I couldn't do it all.

More photos of the event are available at

Thursday, August 12, 2010

IDA approves Parking Garage deal

The Industrial Development Authority voted this morning to approve an agreement with Uncle Sam Garages, LLC, a.k.a. Dave Bryce, for the sale of the Uncle Sam Parking Garage, according to IDA CEO Sondra Little.

The agreement includes the following:

Mortgage recording tax exemption - $32,000
Sales and use tax exemptions - $64,000
20-year Payments-in-Lieu-of-Taxes savings - $399,630

Total estimated financial assistance: $495,630

In exchange, Bryce will operate the facility and agree to make investments to the garage -- most notably the addition of a third parking deck -- totaling over $1.1 million. The creation of one new job is anticipated, with the creation of additional construction jobs also possible.

Because there were a few questions, here are some clarifications from today's article:

Bryce applied with the IDA to seek financial assistance, including the PILOT program. The original application sought $1.65 million payments, but the IDA upped it to $1.75 million.

Business Improvement District and Library taxes are considered special assessment taxes, and were not included in the deal. Little said that when the IDA receives payment from Bryce, it turns around and pays the city, school district and county taxes.

A copy of the contract that was signed by both Bryce and the city was submitted as part of the agenda at the IDA's June meeting. The city declined to comment on the agreement, but it appears that the contract was used as the framework for the purchase of the garage. Because the deal is going through the IDA, however, the IDA will actually own the garage and lease it out to Bryce, who will then have the option to purchase it after the lease agreement ends (presumably 20 years).

The process of Bryce's deal with the IDA was criticized as being "secretive" by some. An article appeared in the June 26 issue of the Record about the approval of a preliminary agreement with Bryce, and a notice of the public hearing appeared in the legal notices of the July 8 issue, so it appears that the IDA followed the proper posting times and notice requirements.

Some Council members weighed in on the IDA deal over the past few days via e-mail.

Mark McGrath, R-District 2: "This was not a secret as I've brought it up at meetings only to be stonewalled by my colleagues. Go back to the Record story and you'll read where I identified this deal as a shell game, but of course some of your illustrious councilmen wouldn't practice deception now would they?"

Bill Dunne, D-District 4: Just when I start to like you, you say something dumb. I know your getting older, but your memory can't be that bad, can it? Mark, you were one of eight "yes" votes to sell the garage. If you feared this possibility, you should have noted "no".

Selling the garage made eminent sense. It needs repairs we can't afford, we need money to meet grant obligations to redevelop our waterfront - far more valuable than retaining the parking garage. Finally, Mr. Bryce has control of the garage until 2021, should he choose. We would continue to receive virtually the same token payment from Mr. Bryce until that point - not the "cash cow" Jack Cox, Jr. so wrongly claim it was at the June council meeting.

Try looking at it this way. Instead of losing a parking garage, we are gaining (ultimately) a much improved waterfront - one that will provide an improved venue for events like Pig Out, Riverfest, etc. and once the redevelopment RFPs are issued and returned, it can become tax generating property. Do I wish we never granted PILOTs to anyone? Of course, but by the same token, the folks we do grant them to get them because they are investing millions in our city. In fact, I recall you defending the money given to Dinosaur BBQ during the last council meeting. PILOTs are a necessary evil.

Mark McGrath:
Bill, I'm flattered that you started to like me, but the fact remains the original deal was that Bryce couldn't supplement the sale with other governmental funds and it's in the contract. You and I were both for selling it from the start and I'm confident it was the right decision. It was the charade played by your colleagues after publicly being vilified for playing politics by the media that led this up to the IDA funding. I'm still satisfied that the property is in negotiation to be sold, but to crow to the taxpayers that "we"ve save you money" [sic] only to be supplemented with other taxpayer dollars is deceptive. At the end of the day, the garage should be sold, and the original deal was the best for the taxpayers. I guess we"ll see when the numbers play out. Thanks.

A copy of Bryce's application, an agenda from the public hearing and a draft of the PILOT schedule is available through the IDA.