What's up, Neighborhood.

Capital Region economic development grants: Tivoli Preserve, Albany Skyway, Nipper, Troy movie theater, craft beverages, and more

REDC awards announce 2016 Capital Region

Originally published Thursday at 2:20 pm. Updated Thursday at 4:05 pm.

The Capital Region got $83.1 million in the state's annual Regional Economic Development Council awards/game show on Thursday. That total made it a "top performer" -- and it was the second-highest total of any region.

The details on the specific projects getting funding in the Capital Region are below. There are also region-by-region totals for the awards.

The announcement included many of the same elements as previous years, including specious claims about the economic vitality of upstate and that weird "no, you're the best" dynamic between Maria Bartiromo and Andrew Cuomo. (Sadly, the state has still not installed a giant wheel on stage for representatives of each regional economic development council to spin and reveal their total.)

One bit of other news that came out of the presentation: Andrew Cuomo reiterated his support for allowing services such as Uber and Lyft to operate upstate.

His statement -- "I guess I support Uber upstate." -- followed a deadpan joke by Empire State Development head Howard Zemsky about requesting an Uber to take him to The Egg from the ESP office in Albany -- the car showed up 2 hours and 45 minutes later and took him to Price Chopper.

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Sonia Sotomayor at UAlbany

Sonia Sotomayor

Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor will be speaking at UAlbany's SEFCU Arena April 4. The event will be free and open to the UAlbany community, with details about registration still to come.

The event is part of the university's speaker series that has brought Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, Russell Simmons, and Bill Nye to campus in recent years. Some of these events have ended up being open to the public depending on the availability of space.

We heard from UAlbany today that in addition to being open to the immediate UAlbany community, the university is hoping to also open the event further to at least include alumni. SEFCU Arena seats about 4,000 people for an event like this.

So, if you're an alum and/or a member of the general public and think you'd like to go -- keep an eye out for details about available space in upcoming months. (We'll share them here, too, when they become available.) It's not every day you have a chance to see a sitting Supreme Court justice speak.

photo: Steve Petteway via Wikipedia

Solid Sound 2017 early-bird tickets

solid sound festival logoEarly-bird tickets for the next summer's Solid Sound Festival at MASS MoCA go on sale this Friday, December 9 at 10 am. Three-day passes will be $134 while supplies last. And kids passes will be $50 (free for age 6 and under).

Advance three-day passes for the last festival, in 2015, were $149, so this could save you a few bucks if you know you're going (especially if you're buying for more than one person).

Next summer's festival is June 23-25. And it is, of course, the festival that prominently features Wilco and friends. Blurbage from earlier this fall:

Spanning three days and four stages, Solid Sound includes music by Wilco and its members' side projects, as well as many other (soon-to-be-announced) musical performers. It also features a full comedy lineup programmed by festival alum John Hodgman, family fun for all ages, local food, craft beer, camping, naturalist activities and more.

If you're interested in updates, the festival has an email list that sends out updates about tickets, acts, and associated whatnot.

Adapting for a more extreme future

flash flooding 2014-08-05 Western Elberon

Flash flooding in the city of Albany in 2014 when a storm dropped almost three inches of rain in less than an hour. / photo via Laura (thank you)

The Northeast US is looking at average temperature rises of a few degrees over the next century because of climate change, according to the some of the best estimates. And while an increase of, say, 4 degrees might not sound like much, it's setting up a future in which the extremes are likely to be more extreme and more common: hotter heat waves, bigger rainfall events, more common floods.

Radley Horton, a climate scientist at Columbia University's Center for Climate Systems Research, was at UAlbany this week for a program about extreme events prompted by climate change and their effects on human health.

We got a chance to talk with him for a few minutes about how climate change is already affecting this part of the country, what could be ahead, and how we might adapt.

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Regional Economic Development awards today, Troy mayor cuts proposed tax increase by half, historic Saratoga building set for demolition

Regional Economic Development Council awards
The winners of the annual Regional Economic Development Council grants are expected to be announced today. $750 million will be divided for projects around the state. Among other things, the Capital Region is asking for include an $4.24 million to help with the proposed $29.7 million expansion of the Palace Theatre and $4 million Albany's Health Sciences Campus in East Greenbush. [TU]

Troy
Troy Mayor Patrick Madden has submitted a new spending plan to the City Council , calling for a tax increase of 14.5 percent half the size of his original 28 percent proposed hike. Madden says the proposal is not something he's comfortable with, but he's suggesting it to scale back potential layoffs. [TWCN][TU]

Historic Saratoga building coming down today
Demolition is set for this morning for a 150 year old building damaged in a Thanksgiving morning fire. [Gazette]

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A call for early voting and other ways to make it easier to vote in New York State

albany county ballot scanner

There are a lot of steps before you get this to this point.

Given that the United States republic is more than two centuries old, it's remarkable that we still struggle with the mechanics of one of the fundamental aspects of democratic government: voting.

New York State is no exception, as a new report from the office of state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman notes the presidential primaries this year highlighted multiple problems with how the state's voting system is set up and administered. Among the most amazing examples: A person already registered to vote had to have declared or changed her party affiliation 193 days ahead of the primary in order to be eligible to vote.

The report details many of these problems and also offers a slate of potential upgrades of the state's voting and voting registration processes. One that we suspect would be popular: early voting. A clip from the report:

Permitting early voting is an easy solution to the problems of long lines and overwhelmed poll sites. Under New York State Election Law, the only way by which voters can cast a ballot early is by submitting an absentee ballot. However, access to absentee ballots is limited to a specific set of circumstances ... As a result, New York is one of only 13 states that fails to provide all voters the opportunity to cast a ballot in person prior to an election day. Permitting early voting in New York would make voting more accessible while simultaneously alleviating some of the pressure on poll sites and workers caused by heavy Election Day traffic.

Many of the other proposed reforms also seem very reasonable, such such as...

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Schedule for drinks-and-art series at the Arts Center extended

arts center capital region troy exteriorhe Arts Center of the Capital Region is extending its popular "Social Media" drinks-and-art series with a new schedule of dates in the next year. Topics range from jewelry making to brewing to collage.

Series blurbage:

Visit the Arts Center on the third Tuesday of every month to meet new people and try making art in a different medium. Every event starts with an hour-long workshop designed for everyone to enjoy - from beginners to life - long artists - and ends with a specialty prepared cocktail or seasonal beverage that has been paired with the art form we'll be experimenting with. Please bring your ID - we'll also be serving beer, wine and soft drinks!

Many of the dates so far have sold out, so if you're interested in going, it's a good idea to claim your spot earlier rather than later. Tickets are $35 and include materials and snacks. Drinks are extra.

Here's the upcoming schedule for the new year...

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What's up in the Neighborhood

The NeighborhoodAmong the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: River Street, burial grounds, dangerous occupations, not-broken homes, trains, the Victory Wood Trail, a marathon, neon dancing, Plumb, Phoenicians, Track 32, restaurant week, fried donut pockets, cheesesteak, a pizza oven, and congrats.

Neighborhood in-post ad APL 2015

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Phoenicians Mediterranean Palace

Phoenicians Mediterranean Palace Robert Rahal

Robert Rahal

The new Phoenicians Mediterranean Palace recently opened on Fuller Road in Colonie. It's the successor to the Phoenicians Restaurant on Central Ave -- and it's big. The space itself is huge, and owner Robert Rahal has big plans for it.

Here's a quick look around, along with a few bits about what's in the works...

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Not guilty plea in Alkaramla case, Rocks suspect connected to Bloods, longtime journalist/columnist Marv Cermak dies at 84

Not guilty plea in Alkaramla case
The late Noel Alkaramla's former stepfather pleaded not guilty to second degree murder and other charges connected to her murder in November of last year. [Record]

Rocks shooting suspect
The suspect in the November shooting at Rocks nightclub, 30-year-old Kareem Blacknall, is believed to be a member of the Bloods. Police say some of the gang violence that had been calmer has heated up due to the Rocks shooting. [News 10]

Missing teen
Police are searching for 16-year-old Sierra Budik, who has been missing from her East Greenbush home since Tuesday morning. [TU]

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Today's moment of perspective

UAlbany uptown campus columns

All lined up on the uptown campus.

Caffe Lena re-opening this month

Caffe Lena rendering shared entry croppedCaffe Lena is set to open its renovated space December 30 with a show by The Suitcase Junket. The show is already sold out.

The historic performance venue has been floating shows among spots around Saratoga Springs over the last few months during the renovation work on its Phila Street building. The modernized space includes a new atrium and lobby, increased seating (100 seats, up from 80), a new sound system, new bathrooms, and update space for administration and visiting performers.

The project has been a partnership with Bonacio Construction, which is building a mixed-use condo project next door. Caffe Lena says it's at 75 percent of its fundraising goal.

A grand opening is planned for the spring when a new elevator will be completed.

What if Albany is upstate, but not "Upstate"?

commuting regions map New York State

What are we really talking about when we use the term "Capital Region"? Is it a geographic place? A population of people? A set of economic connections? A culture?

That's one of the questions we were thinking about while looking over a recent attempt by researchers to define megaregions and lay out a "functional economic geography of the United States." The work -- by Garrett Dash Nelson of Dartmouth and Alasdair Rae of the University of Sheffield (UK) -- takes a ton of Census data about commuting patterns and processes it into a series of maps. It's published in PLOS One.

So, let's have a look at those maps for this area, along with a few thoughts about the results.

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Opening set for new Albany Center Gallery space

Arcade Building downtown Albany exterior 2016-11-02The Albany Center Gallery recently made the move down Broadway to new its home in the renovated Arcade Building and it's set the grand opening for the new space for January 6.

On that date the gallery's 12th Annual Member Show will open. And there's an open call for submissions:

While Albany Center Gallery (ACG) celebrates its 40th year, the Annual Members' Show focuses on the importance of local and regional artists that live and create work within 100 miles of Albany. ACG highlights and recognizes a wide range of talented members. Each of these exhibits bring together a dynamic cross--section of artists, in material and degree of establishment. Members range from student and emerging artists to established and international artists, from painters and photographers to sculptors and mixed media artists and beyond. ACG sees this show as an opportunity for exposure, promotion, and appreciation of all who have invested their time and energy in making our gallery what it is today.

There are details at that link about how to submit. And if you're not a member, it's $50 to join / $90 for two people.

The grand opening reception will be January 6 from 5-9 pm. The member show will be on display through February 17.

Earlier on AOA:
+ New home for Albany Center Gallery
+ Why Stacks Espresso picked downtown Albany for its next location (it's in the Arcade Building)

Mid-morning music break: Wild Adriatic

Something to get you moving today: "Appleton" by Wild Adriatic. That's a groovy record player.

The tune if off the band's upcoming album, which is scheduled for a release in February.

[via @ajw93]

APD: Rocks shooting suspect in custody, attorney says client isn't the Crossgates shooter, snags for residential redevelopments

Rocks shooting
Albany police say they have a suspect in custody for the fatal shooting at a party at Rocks early Thanksgiving morning, but are not releasing a name. APD says the person was picked up on an unrelated charge. [WNYT] [TU]

Crossgates gunfire incident
The man accused of firing a gun inside Crossgates -- Tasheem Maeweather of Albany -- pleaded not guilty to the charges against him on Monday -- including attempted murder. Lee Kindlon, his attorney, said Maeweather had been at the mall to buy sneakers and did not have a gun: "Tasheem went to the mall that day like everybody else: to do some shopping. To say he went there with that intent [to kill someone] is just ridiculous." Kindlon says Maeweather was part of a scuffle, got punched in the face, and ran when he heard gunfire. He also argued that because Maeweather was on probation and being monitored, it was unlikely he'd have a gun. [Daily Gazette] [TWCN] [TU] [WNYT]

Albany County budget
The Albany County Legislature passed a county budget that includes no change in the tax rate. [TU]

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Today's moment of winter

fallen willow leaves wet pavement

Leftovers from autumn, fallen willow leaves kind of look washed up sardines or some other sort of fish.

Maybe judging a book by its cover isn't so bad...

american girls novel cover design by Phil PascuzzoCheck it out: A cover by local designer Phil Pascuzzo -- for American Girls by Alison Umminger -- made Paste's list of the 30 best book covers of 2016.

American Girls is YA novel released this past summer. Blurbage:

Anna is a fifteen-year-old girl slouching toward adulthood, and she's had it with her life at home. So Anna "borrows" her stepmom's credit card and runs away to Los Angeles, where her half-sister takes her in. But LA isn't quite the glamorous escape Anna had imagined.
As Anna spends her days on TV and movie sets, she engrosses herself in a project researching the murderous Manson girls--and although the violence in her own life isn't the kind that leaves physical scars, she begins to notice the parallels between herself and the lost girls of LA, and of America, past and present.

Phil Pascuzzo has designed a bunch of book covers -- you've almost certainly seen at least a few of them, even if you didn't recognize them as a PepCo work at the time (his website includes a gallery). He sometimes posts new ones on his Instagram feed.

He's also done a ton of local design work -- band art, event posters, identity for orgs... including a bunch of the special AOA banners, such as the current holiday banner above.

[via @MsMansfield]

Earlier on AOA: The book on Phil Pascuzzo

"I just want the system to follow the rules"

The New York Times has a detailed look at racial bias and disparities in New York State prisons with regard to prisoner discipline and punishment. "Whether loud and vulgar or insinuated and masked, racial bias in the state prison system is a fact of life. It is also measurable." It's also a story of geography -- particularly the upstate/downstate divide -- economics, mental illness, and funding. [NYT]

Plumb Oyster Bar

Plumb Oyster Bar Troy owner Heidi Knoblauch

Heidi Knoblauch

By Lauren Hittinger Hodgson

If you want fresh oysters daily, you'll soon have a new spot.

Heidi Knoblauch, an Emma Willard grad, recently returned to Troy after years in academia to open Plumb Oyster Bar. She's another young person investing in Troy, and she aims to create something a little bit different for this area -- while building a gathering space to serve both oyster lovers and the seafood-phobic alike.

We chatted about oysters, the motivations to leave academia, and why Troy is the right spot for Plumb.

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Recent Comments

I grew up in the Utica area and moved out here in 1998. It really is funny how different the cultures are less than 100 miles away. It's more laid back in the Utica/Syracuse area, and the culture is much more "country" whereas Albany and a lot of the are around it is much more fast paced and has more of a NYC influence. Both are nice places to live, but definitely different vibes.

The best place to get a fresh-cut Christmas tree?

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