Minutes - February 26, 2008

Minutes From SENA Meeting On Tuesday February 26, 2008 (Howe Library, 6pm)

Minutes from January 22, 2008 read. Vice President, Mark Beaudoin, noted that several things had changed since they were announced at the January meeting: 1) The closing of the Howe Library would now be in mid-April instead of on March 15. 2) The Trinity Institution would be on Thursday April 24 instead of on March 27. 3) Because of the later closing of Howe, the March 25 SENA meeting could be held at Howe Library.

The question of where the SENA meeting for April could meet came up. Most likely the meeting could be held in Rev. Covington's church (Union Missionary Baptist, next to the Courthouse on Morton) at the Crenshaw Memorial Center. Rev.Covington had offered to make his church available for meetings at an earlier SENA meeting.

Regarding SENA's upcoming Job Fair, the idea was put forward to possibly partner with the Giffen Elementary PTA. (Kenneth Braswell - when he published his "South End Scene" newspaper - had held a Job Fair at Giffen).

President JoAnn Morton praised Yoko Chaumont's work as SENA's webmaster (southendna.blogspot.com). Emails to SENA can be addressed to: southendna@gmail.com

Lt. Matt Montesano gave a brief Public Safety update: Jorge Ventura, an individual out on parole, residing on Elizabeth St, was arrested in connection with several robberies in the area: the Holiday Inn Express, Mr.Subb (next to Delaware Library), the Stewart's on Morton Ave, and the McDonald's on S.Pearl St.
Central Square larcenies were linked to a Leonard Farmer of Lark St. A number of North Albany area burglaries have occurred but remain unsolved at this point.
To discourage trespassing on residents' property in the South End, a property owner can participate (for a small fee) in something called the "Trespass Affidavit Program". The Program would allow the arrest by police of unauthorized persons on one's property. To participate, one should contact Jessica Blaine Lewis at the DA's office.
The Citizen's Police Academy will have a 13-week program (3 - 4 hours one day each week, usually Tue.) educating about activities of the Albany Police. Information will be available on the Albany Police Dept. website.

Melissa Bucher, whose newsletter has a 2000 copies monthly circulation in the area, offered to print in the newsletter announcements for upcoming SENA meetings and programs such as the Job Fair.

On Saturday March 8, an Empowerment Fair was scheduled at Giffen Elementary. Carolyn McLaughlin would be the featured presenter. It was suggested SENA might wish a presence at the Fair.

Bill Rahm (of the Fire Dept.) introduced himself as the replacement for Bill Jones (who had reported on Fire Dept. matters monthly at previous SENA meetings). Bill Jones has retired.

Carolyn McLaughlin, the Albany Common Council Majority Leader, was the evening's featured speaker. She commended SENA's work over the past year (it developed out of a Quality of Life Committee), and encouraged everyone to continue their efforts.
She spoke of demolitions which have taken place in Ward 2, the displaced Lawson family (now living at 15 Elizabeth) whose Alexander St property had been destroyed by surrounding collapsing buildings, the fact that Habitat for Humanity was finishing up a third house on Odell St and may have a long range plan of building up to 30 homes in the South End.
The Capital South Plan appears to be sitting on the table for now. Monique Wahba, who was coordinator of the project for Albany's Dept of Planning and Development, is now at home taking care of her children. Someone needs to take her place to move it forward. Council woman McLaughlin also spoke about a Morton Ave project, the Jared Holt project (24 units on Broad St, which needs more funding) and the demolition of 4 buildings on South Pearl St including the Knitting Factory, which had been 35 years vacant. The New York City owners had allowed the buildings to deteriorate so much that they had become a public safety issue. A decision was made and they had been quickly demolished.

Guest speaker Aaron Mair (of the NYS Dept. of Health) reported that zip code 12202 (which covers most of the South End) has the most cases of respiratory illness in the area. Aerial photos reveal at times an orange haze of particulates in the air of the South End. Pollution from the Port of Albany, highway 787, the freight trains, tug boats, etc contribute to a high rate of environmentally caused asthma.

For upcoming meetings, it was suggested SENA invite the South End Legislators whose districts include the South End to come to hear residents' concerns. Also Lucille McKnight should be invited again to come to a SENA meeting.

Resident Emily Collins spoke of a Public Art Exhibition presented by Grand Street Community Arts. Artists can submit work proposals beginning March 1st to be displayed on the exterior of GSCA's Church on the corner of Grand St. and Madison Ave. See www.grandarts.org or call 396-5401 for more information. Deadline is March 28th.

Next meeting to be scheduled on March 25th, 2008 at the Howe Library, starting at 6pm.