By JOHN PURCELL
Recorder News Staff
Aldermen are seeking a new member for the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency Board of Directors following a recent resignation.
Michael McKenney submitted his letter of resignation from the AIDA Board of Directors last week to city officials, due to personal issues. McKenney, who served as secretary for the AIDA board, was appointed during the prior administration and had previously served while Mayor Michael Villa’s father, Mario, was mayor.
The Amsterdam Common Council is empowered to appoint volunteer members of the AIDA board.
AIDA Board Chairman Pasquale Baia said McKenney put a lot of time and effort into his role as a member of AIDA and head of its personnel committee. Baia said McKenney decided to resign because personal issues would reduce the amount of time he could commit to the board.
“I know that if he couldn’t maintain that level of commitment, he just didn’t want to shortchange the AIDA board,” Baia said. “He was an excellent board member. He really could put things in perspective, because he knew a lot about the old board when it was in its heyday.”
McKenney could not be reached for comment.
Fifth Ward Alderman James Martuscello, who serves as the liaison to AIDA, said McKenney personally reached out him about his decision to step down.
“He feels very proud that he was part of the accomplishments of AIDA,” Martuscello said. “He just felt if he couldn’t do the job 100 percent and do it right then he was going to step down. His only wish was that we get somebody that had the same ideals and practices he did, which was trying to make AIDA respectable, above board and an asset to the city.”
Martuscello said Wednesday there was at least one person who has expressed an interest in filling the vacancy. He encouraged anyone interested in joining the AIDA board to reach out to any of the aldermen or mayor.
Baia was confident whoever aldermen appoint to the board will be a good fit.
“I’m sure the Common Council will be very careful in putting somebody on that can handle the same level of commitment that Mike McKenney did,” Baia said. “I’m going to miss him.”
AIDA has had several successes during last year and Jody Zakrevsky, executive director of the agency, has described it as being financially strong after turning around several years of declining revenues.
Rental property income totaled approximately $200,000 in 2016, which was a $67,000 increase from the annual rental income in 2012. Grant administration fees have also contributed to the agency’s income, with more than $6.5 million over the last five years secured for city businesses and agency projects, according to Zakrevsky.
Last month, AIDA was awarded $500,000 to redevelop the former Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame building. The funds will assist Cranesville Properties LLC with its plan to redevelop the buildings to house more than 3,500 square feet of retail space at ground level and modern apartments on the second and third floors.
In December, AIDA was awarded a $500,000 Empire State Development grant for the Edson Street Industrial Park Improvement Project, which will upgrade the electrical service line in the park from a 13.3-kilovolt to a 69-kilovolt service.
AIDA also secured a $12 million tax exempt bond last year for Eliot Management Group, through its company 10 Market Street LLC, and a sales tax abatement for materials used to construct the facility. The agency granted a 10-year payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement to the company, which is redeveloping the former hotel into The Sentinel at Amsterdam assisted living facility.