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Posted on July 4 at 2:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Gazette readers count on your balanced journalism, Sara, so I want to make sure your account does not perpetuate the notion that a bunch of boorish, selfish, or elitist people in the Stockade spoiled a great plan to have the Onrust locate its home at Riverside Park in Schenectady. Over the past year, two members of the Schenectady Planning Commission suggested at public meetings that the people of the Stockade had no right to call for public access to the riverbank at Mohawk Harbor, because we did not want outsiders using a dock to come to Riverside Park. How silly.
It is more accurate to conclude that Stockadians did their homework and stopped the Dock Steamroller, by demonstrating that it would be bad for the Park, the neighborhood, and the City, because it would ruin a quiet gem of a park merely because the State offered $225,000 to put a dock somewhere. As explained in my Gazette Op/Ed column in April 2010 [ ], the people of the Stockade were not and are not anti-progress nor opposed to people from outside the neighborhood coming to the Park, and dock proponents had not demonstrated there would be economic benefits from a dock.
Please recall that the Onrust would only have taken up 60 feet of a 300-foot dock, that was going to have no supervision, and be located merely yards from a children's playlot and homes, at a "passive park" with no amenities such a restrooms or even water fountains, and blocks away from the kinds of services the projected wealthy boaters would be seeking if they stopped at the proposed dock. More important, perhaps, the Park is reached on land by one-lane, dead-end streets, with inadequate parking.
The Mayor and City Council ignored the Schenectady County Waterfront Revitalization Plan, which was finalized the same month that the Council announced it would vote on the dock. The proposal to place a dock at Riverside Park was clearly inconsistent with the Waterfront Plan, which states (at p. 61) that "further development is constrained by the narrow streets that lead to [Riverside Park and Little Front Street Park] and the character of the residential community that surrounds them." Therefore, the Plan concludes (at p. 71) that Riverside Park's "limited access and parking . . . inhibits any significant expansion of use other than to improve it as a scenic overlook and to improve pedestrian and bicyclist access and connection to adjoining areas."
For full information and links to relevant documents, see

From: The Onrust sails on -- despite setbacks, volunteers have been busy

Posted on June 23 at 2:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Here's a Big Surprise: Everything I wrote about ten months ago is apparently still relevant concerning the proposed distillery. Has anyone in Planning looked into the lawfulness of a distillery in the C-4 Downtown Zone? Is Ms. Viccaro being allowed to use her award-winning investigative skills, or is this another public relations assignment to please Metroplex and our Mayor?
Here's my comment from August 2015:


Why is everything presented to us by Metroplex as a Done Deal? There is nothing in the Schenectady Zoning Code that suggests a distillery is permitted in the C-4 Downtown Mixed Use District. A well-thought-out amendment to the zoning code, after full consideration of the impact of such a (light?) manufacturing enterprise and significant public input, is needed or, in the alternative, there must be a fully-documented request for a zoning variance, including making the highly unlikely showing that no allowable use could bring a reasonable return.
I wish the Gazette would start including the question of proper zoning in its coverage of proposed development in our City. This was originally billed as a Wine Bar. The agenda for the Feb. 18, 2015, Planning Commission meeting said
. . . MICHAEL ROMAN requests site plan approval pursuant to Section 264-
90M of a proposal to renovate the building at 10 and 12 Yates Street into a
Wine Bar and retail space, tax parcel #’s 39.64-3-19 and 20 located in a “C-
4” Downtown Commercial District..
This deception is worse than the usual forms of arrogance we see from Metroplex and dereliction of duty we see at the Planning Commission. Bait-and-Swich is becoming Business As Usual at City Hall, with the Metroplex puppeteer pulling the strings.

From: Schenectady retail project gets $60K from Metroplex

Posted on June 10 at 9:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

To Marion Foster: There is a very big difference between "minding your own business" when you see suspicious activity and jumping into your vehicle to pursue a car down City streets, high-beams flashing, and attempting to block the other vehicle from moving. Calling 9-1-1 is the appropriate response, not indifference and not hot, vigilante pursuit. That is especially true when the supposedly suspicious activity is not posing a physical threat; and even more so when you are the Mayor and your call to 9-1-1 or a special police phone line will surely be given a quick response.
We do not need more indifference. Nor do we need more apologists for irresponsible actions by the Mayor and inexplicable lack of curiosity by the Police Department.

From: Ali was a decent man who will be missed

Posted on May 29 at 1:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you for a thorough, level-headed explanation of the need for an independent investigation of our vigilante Mayor. Now, I'd love to hear your take on what we should expect from our elected (so-called) leaders when their Capo is misbehaving. Worrying that the Mayor was putting himself in harm's way or pointing to the futility of City Council action seem insufficient.

From: State attorney general should investigate mayor vehicle pursuit

Posted on May 19 at 12:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you, Sara, for addressing this important topic, and covering many significant issues, in a well-balanced way. It is very good to hear that the Mayor realizes the value of our large street trees; they are an irreplaceable asset and investment that pay us back in so many ways.
The Mayor and City Council should insist that the City Engineer's Office begin to establish tree preservation requirements that supersede the criteria they applied in 2008 on N. Ferry St., which took down every large street tree when replacing the sidewalks, and were proposed for Washington Avenue in 2010, which also called for the removal of every large street tree, even if healthy. There are too many other available, proven, efficient options when a tree is not dead, dying or dangerous. SOS Trees would like to help the City develop such a policy.
Tree Preservation Information, with photos, discussion of alternatives and policies in other Cities, and more, can be found at
Arthur's Market (35 N.Ferry Street, at Lawrence Circle) will hold a brunch at noon for discussion of Street Tree Preservation, on the first Saturday of every month, beginning June 4th.

From: Finding ways to save urban trees worth the effort

Posted on April 24 at 7:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Here's a direct link to Save Our Schenectady Trees [S.O.S.Trees]
Thank you, Gazette, for publishing this Guest Column.

From: Save our healthy old trees

Posted on March 29 at 10:23 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It must be nice for Mr. Kosiur and Mr. Polimeni to be able to give half-baked justifications for following orders from the Casino without fear of being asked follow-up questions. Rush Street has still not given or promised the City a dollar more than State law mandates, because our Mayor and City Council have not demanded more, as every other casino city does. If Rush Street could have paid the State $46.6 million for their gaming license, instead of $50 million, and kept the $3.4 million the City will get from the State out of the license fee, you can bet they would have.
If Mr. Polimeni really believes that asking for an appropriate street name is intolerable government interference, that will somehow hurt investors, he apparently would strike our entire City Code at the request of any developer interested in a project in Schenectady. Let's hope this ventriloquist dummy act is limited to casino matters.
Once again, Ms. Vicarro or her editors have decided not to mention the substantive reasons so many Schenectady residents oppose the name Rush Street. If interested in a fuller discussion, see .

From: Council approves Mohawk Harbor street names

Posted on March 25 at 11:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It's nice to hear Mayor McCarthy sounding like a Democrat, for a change. Of course, this pleases two of his Big Bosses: Gov. Cuomo, who wants to put more money in New Yorkers' pockets for life's necessities; and Rush Street Gaming, which hopes to take more money from the pockets of Schenectady residents, whether or not they can afford it.

From: Activists rally for stepped increase in minimum wage

Posted on March 24 at 10:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you for an excellent editorial that touches on many of the most important points relevant to the Pylon. When Rush Street comes back with a new version of a giant, free-standing sign or LCD screen, it needs -- as you have said -- to submit an independent visual impact assessment for the proposed size, location and orientation of the structure. Only then can we begin to estimate its effects on residents and traffic nearby and on the overall skyline of our City.
I hope City Hall (from the Mayor and Corporation Counsel, to City Council and the Planning Commission) has learned a very big lesson. They Rushed to change the zoning signage restrictions from allowing one 7' freestanding sign with 75 sq. ft. of signage, to 80' tall and virtually no limit; and from a pylon with an 8' wide sign and 5' wide base to no limit on the width (resulting in a proposed pylon 38' wide); and, they did it in a Rush, solely on the very specious claims of needing the monster pylon for the casino to be seen and for Erie Blvd. traffic to know where to turn soon enough to safely enter the traffic rotary.
One example: In justifying the City's request to amend the zoning law and allow a 20,000 sq. ft. limit on signage for the casino, Corporation Counsel told me the Casino started negotiating by asking for 100,000 sq. ft. He seemed to have forgotten that the Casino told Metroplex and the Racing Commission it would need at most 15,000 sq. ft. And, now it has submitted a plan for about 8,000 sq. ft.
City Hall and the public need to keep the Casino's gross exaggerations of its needs in mind whenever they come asking for special treatment. They need to be watchdogs protecting the public, not cheerleaders repeating the casino's claims, or weaponless Snowmen guarding the gates of our City like on the night of the 1690 Massacre. Our leaders must take their time, use common sense, ask probing questions, and require full submissions about the factual basis of an Applicants' claims and deadline assertions, especially on projects as big and important as Mohawk Harbor and its Casino.

From: Casino's new sign plan offers a glimmer of hope

Posted on March 23 at 2:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The pylon sign plan has not been "killed", it has been postponed, and your headline does the public a disservice. Rush Street has certainly not promised there will be no huge pylon or giant LCD screen. It is more likely that the Planning office or commissioners are not satisfied with the latest version of the pylon and Rush Street is not willing to postpone approval of the rest of its signage.
There is no way Rush Street will have a casino that does not have a giant "branding sign" saying Rivers Casino at Mohawk Harbor, and they are well under the generous signage allowance granted by City Hall. On the bright side, this delay will remove any excuse Rush Street and the Planning Commission might try to use for failing to do a thorough Visual Impact Assessment of the pylon sign, with line-of-sight and computer analysis of its impact on nearby residents (such as Fusco's Erie Blvd. apartments, East Front Street, Goose Hill, the Stockade and College Park), and on traffic safety. The Dept. of Environmental Conservation's policy statement on Visual Impact Assessment, for example, says that a formal visual impact assessment is needed, with at least a line-of-site survey, whenever any component of a project can be seen from an historic district, such as the Stockade, with mitigation measures taken to prevent any significant visual impact from the District. [see ]

From: Pylon sign plan killed at Mohawk Harbor

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