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New Weapons in the Arsenal

Watervliet looks for ways to attract new business by utilizing its existing infrastructure and its proximity to tech valley

 

Rosemary Nichols has been at her new job as head of the city of Watervliet’s Department of Planning and Community Development for only two weeks now, but her desk already is covered in business cards. Nichols is not overwhelmed, she said. Planning and developing in the community she lives and works in is something she has been thinking about for quite some time.

The newly elected mayor, Michael Manning, met Nichols, who runs her own law firm, while campaigning for his run to become a councilman a few years ago.

“Mike and I started talking about planning,” said Nichols of the meeting, “and we have been talking about it for two years now.” Nichols will eventually be tasked with coming up with a comprehensive plan for Watervliet and will work at securing federal and state grants, helping businesses find the right space in the community and working with the Watervliet Arsenal on attracting private- sector business. During the past administration, it was the task of city employees to apply for grants.

Manning said that since a position of this nature did not exist before, he expects Nichols will have to do a bit of catching up. “If you compare Watervliet to Green Island or Cohoes,” he said, “they have been at it for a couple years, and they are having some success. Green Island has been developing their open space, and their development is different than what we would do. Cohoes has mills to renovate for businesses and residents.”

Manning said he thinks that Watervliet offers a small community with easy access by bus or car to places like the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University at Albany and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, as well as being directly connected to the arsenal. “Why couldn’t we be another bedroom community?” he asked.

“I believe Watervliet has had the dubious distinction for many of years of having the most tax-exempt property of any municipality in the state. And it is payback time,” said Nichols, who plans on acquiring state and national funds to improve infrastructure in the city.

“Watervliet doesn’t have the street cred or the immediate impact that some streets in Troy might have, but there is a lot of really sound, attractive housing here for small businesses that can be reused, and they can become part of the community fabric,” she said. Nichols runs her law firm out of the first floor of her Watervliet home.

“For the technology sector, we have lots of reusable space,” she said. “We know we are not going to be the Harriman redevelopment, but I guess the Harriman campus isn’t going to be the redevelopment either. We have a lot of space to start out a small business and for them to grow to bigger spaces in that incubator idea. We also have space to use the idea of working out of your home.”

On the horizon, thanks to pending federal Base Realignment and Closure recommendations, portions of the Watervliet Arsenal may soon shift from government to private ownership and give Watervliet a chance to offer businesses the chance to be part of that military complex. “We need to integrate planning and put an emphasis on what to do with land should it become not federal,” said Manning. “When the walls come down, we need to integrate their plan with our plan. We will touch with them on three sides.”

Manning also said he has an upcoming meeting with representatives of Colonie’s new administration. “We both agreed to talk about how our two communities can work together. They border us entirely on the west; we have the arsenal in between us, and a big strip of railway. There is a lot of potential economic development. We are going to try to set up some sort of ongoing meeting in the spirit of cooperation. It’s a two-new-kids-on-the-block type of thing.”

 

—David King

dking@metroland.net


What a Week

Unnecessary Roughness

A family in Menands, including local public-relations firm owner Libby Post, witnessed the beating of two crime suspects at the hands of the Troy police this week. The witnesses told the Times Union that they heard the suspects screaming, and ran outside to tell the police officers to stop. The policeman, the witnesses allege, taunted them by saying that they “were probably members of the jury that let that killer go free” (a reference to the acquittal of Edward J. Jidoun in a Troy murder). The officers also allegedly told the family that the suspects would kill them if they were free. Investigations into the incident have been launched by the Troy police and Albany County District Attorney David Soares.

Kingmaker John?

Many bloggers and politicos alike say that they see candidate John Edwards, the proverbial third wheel in the Democratic presidential campaigns, as likely to have a more important place in the process as some might think. Pundits assert that if the race between Obama and Clinton stays as tight as it is currently, with both candidates taking an equal portion of delegates, Edwards may be able to direct his delegates at the Democratic convention to side with one of the frontrunners, thereby giving Obama or Clinton a decisive lead. Others disagree, pointing out that delegates are not bound to Edwards, and it is more likely Edwards’ delegates would vote for the candidate playing most favorably in the media at the time.

Hard Times

The economic news is as gloomy as it has been any time in the past 30 years. The subprime real-estate market has ravaged our banks. The dollar has hit new lows in trade value. More and more foreign investors have been buying up the country’s bonds. Every standard cost of living continues to skyrocket as wages stagnate and home values plunge. The Fed this week cut the overnight federal lending rate by three-quarters of one percent, the largest cut in decades. President George W. Bush and leaders of Congress have proposed a $150 billion stimulus package, aimed at reversing this downward trend. Experts agree that this number is a drop in the bucket.




PHOTO: Joe Putrock

The Campaign Comes to Town

The Coalition to Save Albany recently opened campaign headquarters for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) at 94 Lexington Ave. in Albany’s West Hill, marking the first time that neighborhood has been home to a presidential campaign office. Meanwhile, the campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) had tentatively opened an Albany headquarters downtown at the office of the City Democratic Committee, 901 S. Pearl Street, though the campaign said yesterday (Wednesday) that the location is not final.





Loose Ends

-no loose ends this week-



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