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Put It in My Backyard

To the Editor:

What a surprise it was to see that Mayor Jerry Jennings switched funding from Lark Street [Newsfront, Jan. 17] to revitalize basically what is in his own backyard.

With no real regard or concern for Lark Street, commonly referred to as the “Jewel of the City,” or the “Village in the City,” Jennings not only delayed the dreams and hopes of many, but in a typical dictatorial manner swept away the financial means to revitalize the dying and decaying Lark Street infrastructure.

Only a short time after the election, with no discussion of what was to come, Jennings once again acted as Jennings so often does, and that is to do what he wants. When will the people of Albany see that this man is taking Albany on a one-way trip down the road of ruin and destruction?

He not only wants to take the city of Albany down, but also wants to tear away at our school system and won’t be happy until we have a Tammany Hall right here in Albany.

Noticeably missing from any articles on the subject are comments from Richie Conti, 6th Ward city councilperson. How typical for Albany politics that no one in a position to voice the people’s discontent is willing to speak out on this matter and take a stand for what we know to be right. Let’s not all be sheep but let us rally against this tyranny and let our voices be heard loud and clear.

It’s our money and we want it back.

RA DePrima

Non-Contract Grievances

To the Editor:

Thank you for informing me that numerous recent theatrical productions at Proctor’s were produced without the benefits and protections of an Actor’s Equity contract [Art Murmur, Feb. 14]. Up until recently, I did not attend live theater at Proctor’s because of the expense. Now that I can afford to see the touring musicals stopping at the theater, I was hoping to do so and perhaps even take out a subscription. This idea is now on hold.

I do not want to knowingly enjoy myself at the expense of someone else’s livelihood, at the cost of contributing to the continuing downward spiral in the living standards of working people, at the risk of betraying the memory of my father (Equity, AFTRA, SAG), my mother (DC37, 1199) or myself (NYSUT, GSEU, OMCE). I do not wish to be selfish or shameful, as I believe I would be if I attended a theatrical performance at Proctor’s, now that I know that it is more likely to be a nonunion show.

I am not so naďve as to think that I can only enjoy art and entertainment made under union contract, nor that unions are perfect institutions, as the national tour of The Music Man may illustrate. I support and attend community theater, and I go to the movies even though I know I will find the union bug missing from the closing credits of some of them. But if I find out that a theater is happily staging productions that should be union and are not, then I can find a better use for my time and hard-earned pay. I will continue to attend $2 movies at this beautiful theater, unless and until a full-scale union boycott is called, but I will not be seeing any musicals there until I learn that their cast and crew are lucky enough to have a union contract.

Charles K. Alexander II

Thanks for Nothing

To the Editor:

According to the Metroland Sex Survey results [“Survey Says,” Feb. 14]: “One gay woman says, ‘in grade school I did.’ ”

“In grade school?” your writer cracks. “With strangers? Where’d you go to school, lady? Paula Poundstone Junior High?”

Interesting joke. Is the insinuation directed at Ms. Poundstone, or toward the 12-year-old girl who is thought (though not known, as the records are sealed for the children’s “protection”) to have made charges of lewd conduct that were later dismissed?

Anyway, thanks for doing your bit. We all know that innocent people, once accused, have to be punished anyway, in this case for arousing our deepest fears and ambivalences surrounding sex. And where better than in the press, that bastion of free speech?

I would never want to muzzle the media, but please remember that Paula Poundstone is at once exonerated, overpenalized, and herself under a hypocritical gag order.

Carol Reid

In the Public Interest

To the Editor:

In response to an article in Metroland on efforts to improve Grand Street [“Wouldn’t It Be Grand?” Jan. 31], Paul Rutherford recently submitted a letter to the editor expressing his opinion on the efforts of the Community Builders and others [Letters, Feb. 14]. While Mr. Rutherford offers several legitimate concerns and potential ideas, much of what he writes is wrong, misleading and ill-informed. This is particularly surprising coming from someone who is apparently a real-estate professional.

To respond to several of his claims:

1. The Community Builders is a mission-driven nonprofit organization. Our mission is to build and sustain communities of choice where residents achieve their full potential. We will not be earning any profits from this work. Any proceeds from the Grand Street effort (of which there are likely to be none) will be reinvested in future work performed by the Community Builders in Albany.

2. We acknowledge that the project is expensive. However, for the type of work that is being done and the positive impact that it will have, the costs are in line with others, including private developers, doing similar work. Mr. Rutherford is clearly not aware of the requirements of these funding programs or of the realities of a construction project of this type.

3. The rehabilitation model noted by Mr. Rutherford would not work on Grand Street or most troubled urban areas. The amount of investment needed to turn these streets around is simply too great. The first few phases of a revitalization effort for this type of area require heavy investment and subsidy. This is a significant reason why these government-subsidy programs exist.

4. The buildings will not be “overloaded” with renters, as Rutherford posits. In fact, we are reducing the total density of the buildings from their most recent uses. In addition, each of the apartments will be spacious and of very high quality.

5. While we agree that owner occupancy is an important goal, this is simply not feasible at this time for the buildings that we have chosen, especially given market conditions and the extent of rehabilitation required by these architecturally and historically significant buildings. We hope that our initial investments will be a catalyst for other improvement efforts, including those performed by the private market and homeowners.

The Grand Street project is the first of many projects for the Community Builders in the Capital Region. Each of these projects represents a long-term commitment to the communities in which we work. With local permanent offices in Albany, we have become a local fixture and will sustain our dedication to revitalize and improve the area’s neighborhoods.

Susan McCann, Vice President
The Community Builders, Inc., Albany

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