Planned Parenthood, a longtime Lark Street neighbor, is set
to move to its new location
Packing boxes and plans for a greatly expanded space are both
filling up as Albany’s Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood—one
of Lark Street’s most enduring and visible presences—prepares
to move to a new location in September.
The organization has put its three buildings at 259 Lark St.
on the market. The Lark Street complex consists of the main
building, which houses patient services and administrative
offices, a smaller office building and a storage building.
A capital campaign for the new headquarters at 855 Central
Ave., near Everett Road, is under way with about $400,000
to go, said Blue Carreker, the organization’s vice president
for public affairs and marketing. The Central Avenue site
will have 18,000 custom-renovated square feet—a 50-percent
increase in space from the current location—and is along a
major CDTA bus route.
a lot of new lighting to make it brighter and different kinds
of workspaces,” Carreker said. “We know we have a high quality
of service; now, our patients will feel it.”
The staff will miss Lark Street, she added; the proximity
of so many restaurants and shops made for a convenient location
and a close connection with the neighborhood.
have a lot of affection for Lark Street,” she said. “We’ve
been here for 45 years in two different areas.”
The new location will include an expanded space for a teen
drop-in center, and the private parking lot at the site means
that patients and other visitors will no longer have to enter
the building from a public sidewalk. A small but steady group
of anti-abortion protesters has gathered in front of the Lark
Street location on Friday and Saturday mornings for years
to pray, hold placards and sometimes train their video cameras
on the people entering or leaving the clinic. The weekend
protests unfolded under the watchful gaze of escorts from
Planned Parenthood who stood ready to assist women entering
and leaving the building.
The new location will make it more difficult for anti-abortion
activists to get their message out to women, said Lori Kehoe,
executive director of the New York State Right to Life Committee.
can pretty up the space, but you can’t pretty up child killing,”
Kehoe said of the planned move. “It’s also sad that they would
close off women from debate. This closed-off parking lot is
consistent with their principles of keeping information from
At a recent news conference announcing the move, however,
Upper Hudson president and chief executive officer Patricia
McGeown and other administrators said the expansion will allow
the agency to provide critically needed services of all types,
including overall gynecological care and education on the
prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. The Lark Street
location handled more than 13,000 patient visits in 2009,
a 14-percent increase from 2008, and the reception room has
sometimes been so crowded that patients have had to wait in
the hall for their appointment.
people believe, mistakenly, that abortion is all Planned Parenthood
does,” said Mary Kahl, former Upper Hudson board chair and
author of the book Controversy and Courage: Upper Hudson
Planned Parenthood from 1934 to 2004, in a written statement
about the move. “In fact, prevention—of unintended pregnancy
and of STDs—and education continue to be the central core
of the services.”
As the move approaches, the availability of a site with parking
on one of Albany’s main retail streets has generated considerable
attention from prospective buyers, and also considerable speculation
about how a new owner would use the space.
far as I know, everyone who has looked at the buildings has
talked about tearing them down,” said Mary Spinelli, executive
director of the Lark Street Business Improvement District.
“There’s some structural issues with the smaller building.
I think anyone going in there would either have some renovation
to do, or would tear it down.”
Lark Street is a mix of commercial and residential zoning,
but the Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood site is zoned for
commercial use. That zoning allows nearly a dozen uses, including
banks, offices and art galleries. A number of special uses
also fall under the zoning, including health clubs, restaurants
and taverns. Any special-use applications undergo additional
review before the Albany Board of Zoning Appeals, which takes
into consideration traffic, noise and residential concerns
when considering an application for a special-use permit,
said Doug Melnick, Albany’s director of planning.
Under the city’s new demolition ordinance, any proposal to
raze the Planned Parenthood buildings would also have to go
before the Albany Planning Board, and demolition plans must
accompany finished proposals for use of the site—no one can
simply seek to knock down a building without also outlining
how the cleared space will be used, Melnick noted.
It’s far too early to predict what a new owner would want
to do there, but Melnick said one thing is certain about the
soon-to-be-former Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood property:
“It’s a prime site.”
union protest leads to allegations of assault as workers continue
to strike at local Holiday Inn
Ongoing hostilities escalated into violence this Saturday
at the Holiday Inn Express in Latham when a private security
guard hired by hotel management allegedly took a bullhorn
from a picketer marching in front of the building, striking
her in the face and causing considerable damage to her wrist.
This incident represents the latest in a saga that has lasted
more than a year and a half, since February 2009 when several
employees began to organize a union for all hotel employees
in an effort to secure better working conditions. The ensuing
termination of the would-be organizers, as well as the perceived
union-busting tactics of the hotel owner, Jim Morrell, precipitated
a contentious battle of wills between the hotel and local
union organizers and supporters.
According to Rev. Mike Roberts, director of Local 471, the
private security guards were hired by the hotel management
after repeated attempts to induce Colonie Police to put an
end to the picketing, and especially the use of a bullhorn,
Last month, in responding to a call from the hotel, local
police initially put Roberts in handcuffs but then decided
that the demonstrators were within their First Amendment rights
as long as they respected the noise ordinance and refrained
from using the bullhorn between the hours of 10 PM and 7 AM.
Roberts was released and has continued to picket—and to use
On Saturday night, when Pattie Wilcox, mother of two of the
terminated employees, showed up to picket, she and others
found three strange men waiting for them.
got our stuff,” she recalled. “And the minute we hit the part
where we walk back and forth, their exact words were, ‘Cross
this line, and I’ll snap your fucking neck.’ They were just
awful, calling us white trash and lowlifes, telling us we
had already lost. One guy was walking around, flashing a badge
and claiming to be the police. ‘Don’t bother calling the police,’
Wilcox said that she had raised the bullhorn with her right
hand and began to chant when one of the men forcibly took
it from her.
couldn’t really see around the bullhorn,” she said. “But this
guy came up to me and snatched it out of my hand. He came
down across my face and damaged tendons in my hand. It really
scared me, and I don’t scare that easily. We were all scared.”
Sean Terry, a private security guard from Inner City Security
Services and 31-year-old Latham resident, was arrested and
charged with felony larceny. (According to the Colonie Police,
the theft of anything from someone’s person, regardless of
the value of the stolen article, is a felony.) Terry, along
with the two other men, was ostensibly hired by hotel management
with the intent to intimidate demonstrators as they marched
in front of the building. “I want to say it’s disappointing,
but we shouldn’t be surprised,” said Roberts.
No assault charges have been filed yet, but Wilcox says that
she has seen her doctor and intends to do so. “My doctor said
it was definitely assault,” she said. “Apparently he caused
me to have carpal tunnel, which is actually pretty rare.”
Reading from the doctor’s report, she continued, “Symptoms
consistent with carpal tunnel syndrome that came on acutely
after the injury, inflammation around the median nerve.”
Attempts to reach Tod Hanlon, manager of the hotel, were unsuccessful,
as have been multiple attempts to reach owner Jim Morrell.
been on strike for over a year, and I go out there in support
of my daughters, they went on strike because they wanted a
fair place to work. Morrell has been getting more aggressive,
but we’re not going to let it stop us. We were out there on
Sunday night. We just want Morrell to sign a fair campaign
pledge so that there can be a fair [union] election.”
Morrell actually agreed to a settlement more than a year ago,
then reneged and skirted the agreement by replacing hotel
management and claiming that the new regime was not responsible
for honoring agreements made under the old one.
The length and severity of this fight, many union activists
say, is symptomatic of bigger problems within the National
Labor Relations Board. Roberts, local organizer Richard Bensinger
and others believe that the National Labor Relations Act,
which is enforced by the NLRB, is “antiquated and impotent,”
allowing for cases to be drawn out and lacking sufficient
penalties for offending employers.
Barney Horowitz, Albany representative for the NLRB, said
that a number of charges against the hotel and new management
company had been withdrawn and subsequently refiled and now
await further investigation. He confirmed that the terminated
workers had received some back pay, but clarified that that
money was awarded for only the relatively few days that fell
between the terminations on Feb. 4, 2009, and the installation
of the new management company on Feb. 22, 2009.
Wilcox also voiced frustration with the NLRB. “Half the stuff
they rule on doesn’t make sense. I really feel they’re more
for the employer than the employee.”
at the Ice Cream Shop
handful of businesses and residences in the Delaware Avenue
neighborhood suffered broken windows at the hands of vandals
Saturday night between 2 and 3 AM; one of the casualties was
a front window of Emack and Bolio’s (pictured). Residents
and merchants in the neighborhood, which recently received
recognition for its growth and progress, are calling on the
city’s new police chief, Steven Krokoff, to work with
them as the department supposedly returns to a strong community-policing
model. According to sources, the neighborhood’s one beat cop
wasn’t on duty during the acts of vandalism. The chief plans
to meet with neighborhood leaders in response to the incident.
loose ends this week-