Mayor lists priorities in yearly speech


Recorder News Staff

Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane delivered her State of the City address at the Common Council meeting Tuesday night.

Thane spoke about her office and City Hall and the tremendous amount of work that has been done to it, "huge changes" as she call them.

"But there is still much more to do," she said. "The building is over 100 years old and will need continued love and maintenance to realize it's true potential. As many of you that own an older home realize, we will never be done.

"So it is for this city."

She stressed the importance of revitalizing an older city and broke down the past year into three categories: priorities, people and promises.

She referred to 2012 as a year of "great promise, furious activity and extreme heartbreak."

Intense amounts of construction have been done throughout the city, she explained, from repaving roads and getting the city's fire hydrant repairs down to just 10 needing replacements, to the traffic repatterning moving along and the demolition of 39 abandoned structures.

The Chalmers building demolition was also a taxing task from the year, she said.

Economic development made a turn in 2012, she reminded citizens, as the city received more than $4 million for various capital projects, transportation needs, crime prevention, property rehab, and private enterprise support.

"Of course, all of this talk of grants and money leads us to another top priority for our city, financial stability," she said. "Careful stewardship of our taxpayer's dollars is a primary responsibility of any governing body and this administration has been aggressively proactive in this regard."

She took a moment of silence to remember the late city Controller Ronald Wierzbicki, who passed away in office just a few weeks ago.

And she took another to remember the four lives lost to violent crimes this year.

"In all of my years living in the city of Amsterdam, I cannot remember crimes that were so senseless or violent as the murders that took place on Locust Avenue in the spring or in the fields of the town of Florida this summer," she said. "Parents lost children, children lost parents, families were shattered, and our community was instantly plummeted into an environment of shock and grief. It was the darkest time in our collective memory."

Thane launched into a piece of her address about the partnerships within the city, like the neighborhood associations, school district, the "Wishful Thinking" alliance of young folks offering mentoring and inspiration.

And her plan for the coming year?

The city will soon join 155 other communities from across the country for the Cities of Service initiative, where the communities share resources, like comprehensive serve plans, and establish community partners.

Thane said she is also hoping to explore joining the America's Promise Alliance "Grad Nation" campaign, that works to end high school dropouts.

The Land Bank is also on the agenda to continue moving forward.

The city will also be moving forward with projects that began in 2012, like the traffic repatterning, the train station relocation, and bringing hydroelectric generation on the Chuctanunda Creek.

She ultimately would like to revisit the 2003 Comprehensive Plan and revamp the document with new goals.

After the council meeting, 3rd Ward Alderwoman Gina DeRossi said the mayor "summed up 2012 pretty well," but hoped for more elaboration on the plan ahead.

"Certainly, there have been some ups and downs," she said. "But, I would have liked to hear a little bit more on moving forward."

Fourth Ward Alderman David Dybas said he thought it was very well-written and well thought out.

"Overall clear-cut," he said. "It kind of touched on everything. Those things are either too short, too long or confusing. This was neither."