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Fuzzy Math

To the Editor:

In response to “In the Public Interest,” submitted by Susan McCann of the Community Builders Inc., it is apparent that, rather than set the record straight, she simply offers an apologia for an ill-conceived plan [Letters, Feb. 21].

1. Ms. McCann stated that there would be no profit on the Grand Street project. Does she really think that the Albany public is that gullible? My company has completed 38 renovations of one- and two-family homes in Albany at a cost of $1.6 million. If for $5 million dollars they can’t turn a profit on nine properties, they are either burying the profit in related corporations or high salaries, or they are so inefficient at what they do that they are wasting taxpayer money. Either way, Community Builders’ need of $5 million dollars for this project is totally absurd. Maybe they would consider making their records public so we could better understand the flow of dollars.

2. Concerning my grasp of the costs involved, over the last three years my company has completed more than 70 homes in the greater Capital Region, far more than any other privately held or nonprofit renovation company. I have a very good idea of the expense, and in my opinion, this is another example of government-subsidized overspending. Anyone want a $200 hammer?

3. The notation that a revolving-loan fund and owner occupants won’t work on Grand Street is a totally self-serving statement. My company has completed many renovations in some of the toughest neighborhoods in Arbor Hill and South Albany. Grand Street is a walk in the park compared to some of these areas. People want to live in Albany, and Grand Street is no exception. There are large, faith-based support groups in the area and willing owner occupants to plant the seeds of stabilization. If someone would rent there, why wouldn’t they buy there?

4. As far as the claim they are dedensifying the neighborhood, I find that hard to believe. Unless these are the largest one- and two-bedroom units in the city, I don’t see how Community Builders can be serious. Furthermore, one- and two-bedroom apartments don’t support families, and families stabilize neighborhoods.

5. As far as apologizing for these projects not being feasible for owner occupants, I understand why! Who could afford to buy houses costing over half a million dollars apiece in downtown Albany? No one, that’s who, and that’s why, taking the long view, this project is so ill conceived. Overbuilding the area creates white elephants that cannot and will not be supported long after the renters have moved out and Community Builders has finished with Albany and moved on.

The Grand Street project in its present form does nothing for the long-term growth and stabilization of Albany. History has proven that with a string of long-term renovation failures earmarked by nonowner-occupant status. For a lot less money, we could have a far greater impact by supporting owner occupants and market-value renovations of many neglected areas in Albany. That would truly be in the public interest.

Paul Rutherford
Clifton Park


Tell Us Another . . .

To the Editor:

On Feb. 28, I, like so many other concerned neighbors and residents of the Lark Street area, attended on short notice our own Jerry Springer Show, although this one was hosted by Jerry Jennings, mayor of Albany [Newsfront, March 7].

After an elaborate presentation by court jesters and paid consultants, lacking only a display of fireworks, the public was granted permission to approach the throne and speak.

The first was John Wagner. Now, Mr. Wagner was named “Mayor of Lark Street” several years ago, and I can see how his desire to support Jerry’s plan would be no surprise. From reliable sources, I learned that Mr. Wagner had two benches that were located near his business, on the corner of Lancaster and Lark streets, removed because they attracted undesirable users. This would seem to be someone who could express his unbiased concern for Lark Street, since his personal desires outweigh those of the number of elderly and disabled individuals who cross from Washington Avenue to Madison Avenue and would welcome a friendly midway bench to rest on.

But back to the business of Lark Street and the concept of “closing” Lark Street for one whole year or more to rehabilitate it.

Lark Street, I am told, is the third-busiest crossover street in the city of Albany. Would the city neglect its responsibility to the safety and transportation needs of the city by closing off this street for one year or more? I think not. How many street-construction sites have we encountered in which an entire city street is closed? Come on, Jerry. We need better than that. Stop the threats and let’s address the real issues.

Jerry Jennings has said “Lark Street deserves better.” You’re absolutely right, Jerry. Why don’t you give it to us?

RA DePrima

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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