in the park: Residents clean up on 10th Street. Photo
by Eileen Clynes.
Back the Park
years of asking city for help in cleaning up a neglected park,
Troy neighbors take matters into their own hands
years, the park off 10th Street in Troy stood fast as a model
of urban neglect. Amid knee-high weeds and grass, littered
with broken bottles and loose trash, stood a few graffiti-riddled
pieces of playground equipment and park benches—and not a
child in sight.
The park’s basketball court was obviously out of commission,
play suspended due to the fact that the only existing rim
and backboard were obstructed by hanging tree limbs, and that
the uneven surface of the court often was covered with large
pools of rainwater.
The park, located in the underserved North Central district
of Troy, is the nearest summer recreation spot for residents
and children of 8th, 9th and 10th streets. And neighborhood
children had been forced to deal with the decay for years—until
last Saturday (July 6).
took it upon ourselves to clean this park up,” said neighborhood
resident Corey Willis. Willis was one of 30-odd neighborhood
residents who came to the park on Saturday morning armed with
paint, push brooms and axes, donated by Troy Improvement and
Rehabilitation Program, to clean it up so that the area’s
kids would have a place to play.
For two years, residents of this neighborhood say, they tried
to get the city to do something about the park. They invited
city officials to neighborhood meetings, asked for the grass
to be cut and branches pruned. But the city never responded,
so neighbors finally decided to take care of it themselves.
city and the mayor are talking about how they need estimates
for this and that, and it’s politics,” Willis said. “They’re
just trying to talk their way out of it. The summer is going,
and it’s too late to try and plan stuff. Forget talking about
it, let’s be about it.”
Willis said that cleaning up the park was a way to
keep the kids from finding other forms of recreation in the
drug-laden streets of Troy’s North Central district.
have no summer camps or programs or anything,” Willis said.
“I told the mayor, ‘They are our future, give them something!’”
had city officials come to our meetings a month ago, and as
of yet we haven’t seen anything done,” said Ron Dukes, spokesperson
for the 8th, 9th and 10th Streets Neighborhood Association.
“The whole park is atrocious. I guess the city forgot about
But Ted Keefe, superintendent of Troy’s Department of Public
Works, said that what led to the park’s demise in the first
place was the carelessness of the people from the neighborhood.
the past, neighborhood residents have not taken enough interest
in keeping the park clean. We’ve had to remove washing machines,
mattresses and tires from the park quite often,” Keefe said.
“The park on 10th Street probably gets the least amount of
attention of all the parks because of all the cleanup we have
to do there. It’s like beating a dead horse.”
The group swept through the park Saturday and brought it closer
to the standard of similarly sized parks, just across Hoosick
Street, closer to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. By day’s
end the grass was free of loose garbage and was well groomed.
The basketball court’s unnatural wetland was drained, and
axe-wielding teenage boys had hacked off obtrusive tree branches.
A slide and the park benches received facelifts as well, with
fresh coats of paint hiding multiple graffiti taggings.
After the headway made by the community on Saturday morning,
Dukes isn’t interested in placing blame for the past on anyone.
He just wants to make sure the park is regularly attended
to, as would be the case with any other park in the city of
represents a new beginning for this neighborhood,” Dukes said.
“This should be a 50-50 proposition. We’ve got people interested
in keeping the park up, now we’re asking the city to help
us keep it up.”
Dukes called Saturday’s effort “phase one” of the park’s rehabilitation;
“phase two,” he said, will involve the addition of a second
basketball rim and backboard and new fencing
behind the hoops, and a repaving of the court at a grade that
will allow water to drain. He hopes the improvements can be
completed before summer’s end.
But after two years of frustration, Willis is less optimistic
about working with the city on the park’s upkeep, and said
he is ready to claim eminent domain over the 10th Street
park to guarantee neighborhood kids a safe place to enjoy
going to try and have a cookout or block party in the park
this weekend to celebrate,” Willis said. “We’ve just got to
try to take these streets back by ourselves. We’ve got to
come collective as a community.”
staffing shortages and neglect endangering the welfare of
elderly residents at Northwoods adult-care facility?
the midst of an ongoing nursing-home labor dispute, two four-letter
words drive Lia Bott to visit her grandfather daily: love
grandfather, Joseph Tedesco, has Alzheimer’s disease, and
when care could no longer be provided at home, he was moved
into Rensselaer’s Northwoods Rehabilitation at Rosewood Gardens
adult-care facility in January 2001. Since that time, Bott’s
frustration has come to a boil watching her grandfather’s
care spiral downward following a change in ownership at Northwoods
and the nursing-home staff’s decision to unionize (much to
the chagrin of the new owners).
a recent visit, a small puddle of urine rested on the dining
room floor of the dementia/Alzheimer’s wing as Bott and her
grandfather awaited his meal. Over Tedesco’s intermittent
outbursts of yelling in Italian, Bott spoke of coming to visit
and finding him unchanged and unshowered, finding cockroaches
in his room, and witnessing workers yelling at him to keep
quiet and being physically abusive when caring for him becomes
my grandfather yells, he has been overdosed on his meds to
keep him quiet,” Bott said. “I find him slumped over in his
chair, they put him in the room and shut the door on him.
The director of nursing shows me the books stating that he
has been given the correct dosage, but she can’t pull the
wool over my eyes. I’m here everyday, I know he’s not supposed
to be like that.
my grandfather in around the time when the new owners took
over, and things were fine at first,” Bott said. “There was
a physical therapist that would come and walk my grandfather,
but that was very short lived. Things really started to deteriorate
after a couple of months.
said her grandfather’s druggings are but one example of questionable
resident-management practices at Northwoods.
don’t have enough help here, and so they’ll herd everyone
like cattle into one room so that one person can watch them,”
Lee, a certified nursing assistant and one of two employees
feeding four residents in the dementia/Alzheimer’s wing, explained
that short staffing at the nursing home is a constant problem.
According to Lee, one licensed practicing nurse and three
aides care for 40 residents during a typical Monday 3-11 PM
fill out short-staffing notices and give them to the administration
every day to cover ourselves,” Lee said. “There used to be
bed makers here, a housekeeping person, a physical therapist,
but not anymore.”
worrying about being able to properly care for a large number
of residents at any given time, Lee said that staff also needs
to deal with linen shortages, unreported accidents and skimpy
food servings—at least since Highgate LTC Management, LLC,
bought and took over the facility a few years ago.
Nachamkin is one of four partners in the ownership of Highgate
LTC Management, a company that owns six adult-care facilities
in New York state, including four in the Capital Region. He
said that any problems with resident care began when the workers
at the Northwoods facility decided to join with Local 1199
Service Employees International Union.
year before the workers unionized we’ve received about five
complaints; since the union’s involvement with the workers
we’ve had about 50,” said Nachamkin. “Sure we have short staffing,
but there are shortages everywhere. Nobody is going into nursing
when they can make $9 an hour working in retail and won’t
have to change a diaper.”
to Nachamkin, the Northwoods facility maintains staffing in
compliance with the Patient Review Instrument, an industry
standard calculating the number of workers needed per shift,
based on the level of care required per resident. As of yet,
no state or federal standards exist requiring a set number
of workers per resident, per shift in an adult-care facility.
U.S. government Web site for Medicare (www.medicare.gov),
however, does. The site provides comparative information on
all Medicare-certified adult-care facilities in the country.
approximately 80 residents, Northwoods ranks below the state
average of 170.4 residents per facility; it’s closer in size
to the average nursing home in the country, which has 82.3
patients. Where the facility does fall short, however, is
resident at Northwoods, staff are only able to provide 2.82
nursing hours per day, compared to the state average of 3.5
hours and the national average of 4 full nursing-staff hours.
the Medicare site indicates that during 2001, inspectors reported
six deficiencies in the functioning of Northwoods. Inspectors
determined that Northwoods failed to “hire only people who
have no legal history of abusing, neglecting or mistreating
residents; or report and investigate any acts or reports of
abuse, neglect or mistreatment of residents.” The inspection
also discovered that residents did not receive the care and
services needed to obtain the “highest quality of life possible,”
and that it did not make sufficient attempt to resolve resident
complaints it a timely fashion.
to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, each of
these problems was “corrected” as of Jan. 31, 2002; however,
the site does not indicate how the problems were corrected,
nor if any further inspections took place beyond November
(Wednesday) afternoon, no one from Highgate LTC Management
LLC was available for comment on the inspection and infractions.
wife, Amelia, fed him dinner on Monday evening, Bott wiggled
the back of his chair with ease, showing its state of disrepair.
In her grandfather’s room, she pointed out the bathroom’s
blight: peeling wallpaper, a loose towel rack, a broken toilet-paper
said she has expressed her concerns to the workers and administration
and has called the state Department of Health’s abuse hotline
enough times that she has the number memorized.
received letters of response from the Department of Health
saying they are investigating, but nothing changes,” Bott
said. “A state worker will call first and then come in and
inspect things, and everybody jumps and starts working like
they’re supposed to.”
that Northwoods’ management is not willing to listen to her
or other employees about resident care—that’s why they went
to the 1199 SEIU, she said.
a fair grievance process,” Lee said. “When something happens
now, they tell me pick my battles before I take it to my supervisor
who takes it to the director of nursing who takes it to the
wishes his employees would work the existing channels of communication
before running to the union with their every gripe.
caregivers should be following our procedure to fix things.
Now they’re calling the union and we never get to hear about
it,” Nachamkin said.
8 AM tomorrow will find Amelia Tedesco at Rosewoods to spend
the day with her husband until their granddaughter gets out
of work. Joseph Tedesco may be screaming in Italian or he
may be slumped over in his chair, but out of love and out
of fear, his family will still be by his side.