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To the Editor:

I enjoyed reading Mayor Tutunjian’s thin-skinned response [Letters, Aug. 9] to the article on his term as Troy’s mayor [“Give ’em Heck, Harry,” Aug. 2]. I would like to clear up a few misstatements by the mayor.

The current Congress-Ferry Street plan involving RPI, Rensselaer County, Troy Housing Authority, the City of Troy and a selected developer began under the previous administration. Harry refers to an earlier HOPE VI application by the Troy Housing Authority when HOPE VI funding was the only game in town. HOPE VI was a new departure to transform public housing and involve private investment for an integrated approach. When federal funding was not awarded for HOPE VI, new partners came to the table and devised a strategy combining public and private investment. HOPE VI had public housing units in a mixed-use setting; as does the current plan touted by Tutunjian. His administration did not even apply for TEA-21 transportation funds in 2006.

While Tutunjian claims that he is continuing the planning process for a South Troy industrial road, the City’s Web site informs viewers that preliminary design approval was due in August 2003. The road has been in planning for more than 25 years. Tutunjian also claims that he is not convinced that a strict industrial road is what is needed for South Troy. The road proposed by the previous administration is not a strict industrial road. An industrial road was planned for the southern end (where brownfield concerns limit the possibilities for redevelopment of the land), but further north a street similar to a city street was planned. Had Tutunjian attended all of the charettes as a council member, he might have been inspired to pursue construction of this road which is designed to remove heavy truck and commercial traffic from the very neighborhoods he claims he is trying to revitalize.

He claims the city refused to collect taxes on the King Fuels site. I don’t know how a city can refuse to collect taxes; I do know that a property owner can refuse to pay them. The previous administration was negotiating with Niagara Mohawk to acquire the site. Sen. Bruno was actively involved in seeking $2 million in state funding and did not want the city to foreclose. The city now owns the King Fuels site, but the important question is what is now happening there.

The credit for the ongoing redevelopment of downtown really belongs to the merchants and property owners.

Yes, the people of Troy have great memories. They will remember that the city under Tutunjian lost over $1 million in HUD funds, lost $250,000 in funds for Prospect Park, never collected $1 million in past due City of Rensselaer water bills, never enacted a comprehensive rezoning to protect neighborhoods from inappropriate land use, never declared a snow emergency even when surrounding municipalities were doing so, destroyed private property to eliminate an unwanted (although highly successful) tax-paying business, ticketed an outspoken neighborhood advocate for a nonexistent code violation. They will remember that through planning, the previous administration secured the $5 million funding for the upgrade of the signalization system that Harry is now promoting.

Tutunjian does not give credit to the people of Troy. They know that careful long range planning will result in a better Troy. Yes, much has changed under the Tutunjian administration—no planning, no leveraging of funds, no partnerships with the major business, educational and health care players in Troy; instead a let’s-hope-for-the-best, laissez-faire approach to the future of Troy.

Mark Jackson, Troy

To the Editor:

With violent crime increasing in Troy by 25 percent at the same time crime rates in other cities of the area are declining, I’m surprised when Harry Tutunjian categorizes his inability to curb crime as a “misstep.” I’m also troubled by his dismissive comments about the increase in crime and his response to those who don’t like him as “bothersome.” Both comments reflect the attitude of arrogance in his administration, aptly presented in your article. Similarly, his facts about my involvement in the Lower Congress Street Project are just plain wrong. He refers to the THA Hope VI application for $35 million from the Federal government but omits that the Lower Congress Street Project was initiated in 2003 under the direction of the Office of Deputy Mayor. In fact, we were ready to advertise for a preferred developer for the project but were stymied by then Council President Tutunjian and his colleagues.

The truth is verifiable. I spearheaded the development of the South Troy Road Project, the South Troy Working Waterfront Project, the King Fuel Site Redevelopment (in conjunction with Sen. Bruno’s office), the Brownfield Redevelopment Grant and many other economic development projects Mr. Tutunjian now claims as his own. He is correct when he says that many of the current development projects in Troy are the result of private investment not government involvement. However, Troy is better today because we had the vision to reduce crime and provide the building blocks for today’s economic progress.

James J. Conroy, Candidate for Mayor, Troy



Last week’s cover photo of Edward Schwarzschild was incorrectly attributed. The photograph was taken by Leif Zurmuhlen.

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