SENA Meeting – June 23, 2009
Those in attendance: JoAnn Morton(president), Yoko Chaumont(secretary/webmaster), Chris Kollias(AFD), Benna Eldridge(Trinity), Sandra Obiedo(SEIC), Rhonda Brown(Trinity), Esther Patterson(resident), Arielle King(resident), Mark Beaudoin(vice president), Nellie Morton(corresponding secretary), Rebecca Platel(GSCA), Robert Chaumont(resident), Noriko Chaumont(resident), Matt Montesano(APD), Carmela Triolo, Tom McPheeters(GSCA), and Katie Bronson(City of Albany).
JoAnn called the meeting to order and everyone introduced themselves.
JoAnn announced SENA is partnering with the Mansion Neighborhood Association for the National Night Out event on August 4th. It will be held on the Eagle St side of Lincoln Park. She asked who would like to be on the committee and who would like to volunteer. She also asked if anyone was able to provide food donations.
Benna volunteered to be on the committee and said Trinity would be able to provide bottled water.
Esther also volunteered to be on the committee and asked what kind of publicity we would have for National Night Out.
JoAnn said last year we distributed flyers and that we will do it again this year, along with any other possible methods.
Sandra volunteered for the committee and said they could hold the meetings at the South End Improvement Corporation(SEIC) at 38 Catherine St.
Arielle King agreed to be on the committee and volunteered to make posters for National Night Out.
Rebecca introduced herself briefly and talked about her new position working with Grand Street Community Arts.
JoAnn introduced the main speaker, Sandra, to talk about SEIC and the grants available.
Sandra said SEIC was a small, non-profit organization that helps provide rehabilitation for homes. The eligibility for grants are based on income, and the building needs to be owner-occupied. Sandra also mentioned the block-by-block program and the list of homes targeted. The South End is zone three, which is starting in early fall. The houses will be inspected and they will be looking for violations.
Esther asked about abandoned buildings.
Chris from the Fire Dept. defined an abandoned building. An abandoned building has additional means of security, suck as a padlock. Also, if it has been unoccupied for more than a year, it is considered vacant. The longer the building stays vacant, the more money the owner has to pay to the city each year. The city is trying to contact the owners and get them to register their buildings.
JoAnn asked about the process of the inspection of vacant buildings.
Chris said it was basically an exterior inspection. If there are stairs deteriorating, paint chipping, exposed wood, etc, the owner has 30 days to fix it. If they need more time, they can call and ask for more time.
JoAnn asked if it was hard to contact the owners.
Chris answered that they send a letter to the owner, if they do not respond or fix it within the allotted time, it goes to court. After that, the court handles it and he can't speak for the court. Every case is different.
JoAnn asked if it was a friendly process, since it may be intimidating to seniors or other residents.
Chris said it's pretty friendly, as much as possible. They do need to be firm about it, though.
JoAnn and Benna said they would like to spread the info about the available grants to people. Maybe they could hand out flyers with the grant information a week or two before block-by-block begins. Maybe they could send a paper about the available grants when they send the letters to the owners.
Chris said Joe from the Fire Dept couldn't come this meeting, so he was filling in, but the buildings on Alexander St brought up last meeting were taken care of.
Esther asked if the Fire Dept can come to neighborhood block parties and events.
Chris said they can if they have time, and you can call Captain Lajoy to get more information.
Benna gave the news at Trinity. They got some new staff members. Sometimes they have HIV blood screenings available. They also have Capoeira lessons at SUNY Albany. They are taught by Brazilian teachers who speak no English, though they have translators with them. They're willing to teach any age. Most people in the class are students, since it's held at SUNY. Hopefully they will have an ice cream social at the end of July with another Capoeira demonstration. The Capoeira lessons are from 1:30-5pm on Saturdays. The ice cream social will probably be held around 4-6pm. Rhonda Brown is the new activity coordinator. The Family Neighborhood Resource Center is expanding with new staff. Trinity is trying to get a small bus to go to and from the hospital 4 times a day. Trinity is also trying to work with the business community and get them involved. Benna also invited anyone to stop by Trinity on Wednesday evenings to see some fancy bikes. They have a bike program where people can come in, learn how to fix your bike, get a new part for your bike, or even build your own bike. No cost, completely free. About 30 people come to each session. If you have an old bike you don't want, you can also donate it to Trinity.
Katie talked about the city's second public bicycle master plan meeting, where she presented the draft and asked for comments. About 70-80 people were there. She also announced that there is a SEAC meeting next month, and there was none this month.
Tom explained briefly about the Arise Leadership Training, held in the beginning of July. If you would like to donate money to help sponsor someone to go, you can write a check to Arise, with the person's name in the memo. He also gave several announcements. There is a performance series celebrating diversity in the arts called “Out of the Margins” held at Grand St Community Arts (GSCA), 68 Grand St, from June-August. Youth Organics finished the spring session, and are starting the summer session on July 6th. The vegetable garden is up, so you can go to the garden to buy vegetables. If you would like to purchase a garden share, you can contact Rana Morris. Rebecca, the newest staff member, is jumping right into the vacant lot project. They also have some artists that are working with young people through the summer youth employment program.
Rebecca said one artist is a former architect working on the vacant lot project and is thinking about a plan for the big vacant lots on Alexander St.
Benna asked if it was possible to provide a nice place for people to just sit outside. Arbor Hill residents had expressed a desire for a nice place to sit. Maybe a vacant lot could be used for that purpose.
Tom said the Sloane St apartments had another vacant lot area they were looking into.
Matt said he could email the dates he's available to do the Neighborhood Watch, but he can't do it at the next meeting, July 28th.
Esther said the Howe Library is gorgeous, she did a walk-through the building and it's completely different. They plan to open it back up in Spring 2010.
Matt gave the crime stats for this year, comparing it to last year's. The grand total for crime is down 10% from last year. He also reminded the residents to call the police if they see anything happen. If you don't call, it didn't happen. The phone number for the police is 438-4000.
Tom said 2Deep Entertainment does 10-15 minute shows at National Night Out events.
Matt said clowns, PAL, McGruff, and police horses also visit the different National Night Out locations.
Katie said you can buy and plant a tree, if you would like. The city is willing to pay half, which is $50.
Nellie asked how much maintenance they needed.
Katie said very little maintenance, just basic things. She said they were very nice to have.
JoAnn asked what to do about a tree caught in electrical wires.
Katie said you can call National Grid and ask what they can do about it.
Esther announced they were having a block party and yard sale on July 25th, Saturday, from 10am to 3pm, on Grandview Terrace.
JoAnn called the meeting to a close and announced the next meeting date, July 28th.