Minutes - July 28, 2009

SENA Meeting - July 28, 2009

JoAnn (SENA President) called the meeting to order and announced the agenda for the evening.

Rhonda from Trinity Institute gave a report about the Arise one-week community leadership training she attended in NYC. The training focused on what you as an individual wanted. What you want in your community and what you can do to advance your future. They also did lots of one-on-one training. It was a very good seminar, overall.

Robert (South End resident) also attended the Arise training and talked more about the program. Obama went through the same community leadership training with the same organization and same teacher. About 150 people attended the training. Robert said they focused a lot on the question "What is our real self-interest?" They used agitation to get people to discover and clarify what they really want so it can become a reality and not just a dream. They want you to get angry so you can fuel your passion. With the one-on-one training, you were able to gather information, help another find their self interest, and discover your own self interest. Another exercise they did was to create a list of things in your past that were opressing you, so you could go forward freely.

JoAnn announced that National Night Out was next week.

Sandra (resident) talked about her organization "Diva's for Christ". She wants to help the South End by helping kids get off the street. Now she's in school studying construction engineering, but she would like to get in contact with someone who will support her organization and help her with the next step to accomplish her goals.

Joe from the Fire Dept. introduced himself and said he deals with any code enforcement issues. He also announced the August 15th city auction. Many buildings in the South End will be put up for auction. It will be held at Albany High School. Visit albanycounty.org for the details.

Mark (SENA Vice President) asked what happened to the restaurant on Alexander that closed down practically overnight.
Matt from the APD said it was overrun with rats.

Joe also said there was some stimulus money the city earmarked for demolition, so some of the buildings in the South End might be taken down.

Sandra asked how you could get a vacant building rehabbed to become a community center.
Joe answered that first you have to find which building you want. Then find out who the owner is contact them. The city and county can also help with grants for rehabbing.

Tom from Grand Street Community Arts said there's an empty lot on the corner of Elizabeth and 4th Ave. The city is the owner, so they're trying to work with the city to create a space for kids to come and do performances. They also talked to the neighbors, since they want them involved with what happens to the lot. He said he was willing to pass on whatever information he knows to Sandra.

Katie from the City of Albany handed out the SEAC Menu of Resources. She also said Citizen's Bank has a program where if you want to buy a house in a low or moderate income area, they can decrease the interest by 0.5 - 1%.
JoAnn asked for copies of the Menu of Resources for National Night Out, which Katie agreed to make.

Matt gave a police report. There were many car larcenies recently. If you see someone doing anything suspicious, call 438-4000 right away and report what's happening, what the person looks like, and when you saw the activity. He also reminded us not to leave anything in our cars.

Sandra O. from South End Improvement Corp. announced that the HARP and ReStore programs have been funded, though the money won't be available until January.

Benna from Trinity Institute said Trinity was debuting many programs in mid-September. They are also working with two National Night Out events and African American Family Day. Another Family Neighborhood and Resource Center in Arbor Hill is also being opened in mid-September.
Rhonda added that they were working with kids through the arts with African dance, step, colleges, GSCA, etc.

Darren from Albany Housing said they were re-funded for the affordable housing program. Scavo's Market will be taken down. Apartments and townhouse style homes will be built. Some vacant buildings will be rehabbed. We will start seeing changes in fall and spring.

Benna said there's someone who owns a bakery in the Port that wants to have a bakery on South Pearl. If Albany Housing wants to make the old knitting factory into a storefront, maybe he can apply for that building.

Carmela asked if anyone was doing anything towards having a community college in Albany.
Darren said no one is doing anything in that direction now, since Monique left, but they're open to suggestions. SUNY is active in Arbor Hill and is looking to rehab a storefront.

JoAnn talked more about National Night Out. She sent out an email for volunteers, though she still needs more. Set-up crew should arrive by 5pm. The event starts at 6pm. 500 flyers are printed and ready at the SEIC building on 38 Catherine St. She needs volunteers to pass them out to the community.
Sandra said she can get people to help her hand out the flyers at the Towers.
Benna said she can cover the flyers at Trinity.
Tom can distribute flyers on Grand Street.
Noriko can do 1st and 2nd Ave from S.Pearl to Elizabeth.
Terry, JoAnn, and Mary can also distribute flyers.
JoAnn also announced the National Night Out committee meeting at the SEIC building on July 29th.

Sandra said Diva's for Christ wants to do a back-to-school event. She already got many donations of school supplies.
JoAnn suggested contacting Giffen Elementary School and maybe work with them, since they also have a back-to-school fair.

The meeting was adjourned. Next meeting scheduled for August 25, 2009 at 6pm.