How Albany can make its case better for why young families should stay

buckingham pond playground dinosaurs

By Nicole Lemperle Correia

In 2009, my husband and I bought our first house. We chose Albany because we loved living in the city as renters, and couldn't imagine living elsewhere. We love the interesting homes, the walkable neighborhoods, the short commute, the parks, and the proximity to our families.

In 2011 our first child was born, and in 2014 we welcomed our youngest. Over the past six years I've come to appreciate how wonderful it is to raise a family in this city -- and how frustrating it can be as well.

As we outgrow our home, we're starting to figure out what's next. Will we stay in Albany? Move elsewhere? These questions have me thinking about the experience of raising a family in our city, whether it makes sense to stay, and how the city could do a better job of reaching out to young families.

Should the city of Albany care about retaining its young families? Does it matter if houses turn over every five years? I think it does.

A common narrative right now is that young couples buy homes in Albany, start a family here, and move out before the child enters school. But so many of these families truly enjoy living here. Imagine if they stayed. That's a solid tax base of people invested in the city. It's people committed to being here, and thus more likely to become involved, run for office, serve on local boards, become local leaders -- people all around more likely to care about the future of their city. Is there anything city leaders could do to encourage those families to stay? What is the city doing right, and what could be improved?

(Note: I fully realize that I'm viewing this situation from my own perspective and other people coming at this from a different direction will have different needs and ideas about what is working and what isn't working for Albany families. That's a conversation worth having, but for now I'm coming at this from my own family's experience.)

First, the wonderful

There are many young families here
We have met so many Albany families with children around the same age as our children. We run into them at the playground, at the food co-op, the library, neighborhood street fests, at Park Playhouse shows, farm share pick-up, at daycare, coffee shops, and concerts. And in true Smalbany style, everyone knows everyone. We've found a helpful, warm, inviting, and diverse community of families here. A place really feels like home when you run into friends everywhere you go.

Great support for working parents
My husband and I both work in Albany (we each have a less-than 15-minute commute), and our children go to daycare and preschool within a mile of our home. There are several high-quality childcare centers within the city. Albany is unique as a small city that is home to a large portion of the New York State workforce, several hospitals, colleges, the university, and private businesses employing a huge workforce of professionals. It is a city with many two-working-parent households, and we are lucky to have such quality childcare options.

Minimal time spent driving around
Most of our daily activities take place within 10 miles of our home. Living and working in the same city means we minimize our drive time and maximize the time we spend with our family. That's huge for our quality of life.

Universal pre-K
Our 4-year-old is in a city-funded pre-kindergarten program at a private site. It's a wonderful full-day program, and it costs us nothing (other than those school taxes, of course). She spends her days learning and playing, and we get a major break in childcare costs.

A close relationship with our neighborhood
Our neighborhood is a mix of families, older people, young couples, single people. It's relatively diverse. There are always people out walking and kids out playing. We know our neighbors. When the weather is above freezing we go for walks around the neighborhood several times a week. We can walk to school, the playground, friends' houses, restaurants, and of course, Stewart's. I remember knowing my neighborhood as a child because I was out in it, a part of it, experiencing it up close. It means a lot that my children are having a similar experience.

buckingham pond playground swing

Suggestions and questions

All that said, there are some challenges to raising a family in Albany. I have a few suggestions and questions for the city.

Create a centralized hub of information for families
Imagine a page on the city website with links to library information, the childcare council, school information, event listings, pediatricians, playgrounds, events, and other family resources. A city liaison to families could help parents find the information they need, or help families connect with one another.

Address the school perception problem
Many, many, many people move to Albany and move out before their kids enter kindergarten. They usually move because they believe the schools are a problem.

Last spring, I visited the Montessori Magnet School and was blown away. It is a beautiful school with a strong community and strong competition to get a spot for pre-k and kindergarten. I know several families who are having great experiences there, as well as at other Albany elementary schools. The more I meet and speak to families with older kids in the district, the more I hear about how much they like the schools and the great opportunities their kids have had.

The district struggles to tell that story. I say this knowing that the district is also handling serious issues of income inequality, and that there are struggling schools within the district. Perhaps the district also grapples with the question many of us have: How do we reconcile the class divide within the city? Does the magnet school system address the issue enough? How do we promote the schools while also acknowledging the problems?

I don't know the answers here, but I do think for many of the schools, the reputation is much more negative than the reality.

City leadership could connect with families within the city, and create opportunities for families with kids of different ages to meet
More can be done to connect with those families of children under five, well before their kids will be entering school. Share information about Albany's full-day pre-k and kindergarten programs. Showcase the unique magnet schools. Bring families into school events before their kids are in school. Connect families with older children to families with younger children in their neighborhood. How accurate is the perception that families need to either move out before kindergarten or pay for private school? It helps to hear real experiences of real families.

Improve information and communication around the school lottery system
We went through the pre-k lottery system this year. Oh my. It was a jumble of hearsay, rumors, and urban legends. No one seemed to have accurate information -- the district office, the program host sites, program administrators -- everyone told us something different about the process.

This goes hand-in-hand with my above suggestion to promote these programs: streamline and clear up this process. Then post the information on the school district website. It shouldn't take dozens of phone calls to various schools and offices to figure out what's going on.
____

These recommendations come with the understanding that the city, like all upstate cities, is dealing with complex issues. The city's finances are complicated. City leadership has a lot on its plate. There are families living within an array of circumstances, all needing services and support. The city's taxes will always be higher than taxes in Clifton Park.

But it's an important question: Does it matter if Albany's families stay, or if they move out within five years? And what can the city do to support and retain families?

Nicole Correia writes at her website and is on Twitter as @nicorreia.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Open House: Living with kids in a Center Square row house
+ Miss Pearl: An eye toward Bethlehem
+ Albany High School: An alum's perspective

Comments

This is so true. We love living in the city, but with a dog and one child under 3, we have outgrown our house. We want to move to a bigger house in a different neighborhood, but the taxes are pricing us out, so we are considering other towns. It's really too bad because we are exactly the type of homeowner that Albany needs.

This is a great article! It perfectly describes Albany! I have the same types of concerns. These are some great suggestions in possibly helping family to be better informed so that they stay. Let's try to spread the word!

Great piece! Albany has so many awesome things about it and the recent movement to take more pride and ownership in the schools here is heartening. We hope to make our forever home here in Albany (currently in a starter house in Pine Hills) and we think this is a community worth investing in.

(as an aside, the photos in the article do bring up a rather silly peeve of mine- the splash pads in all the parks are awesome. but why to they all have the exact same play structure, not enough swings, and then those same old dinosaurs? we need a park upgrade)

As a child free tax payer, I'm torn. I understand it's part of the social contract that we all pay school taxes, but I cringe when I see the "return" I get on my investment. I chat with a number of people who are happy to keep their kids in the elementary schools but then flee for middle/high school. I went to a presentation last night on the proposal for the new high school and nowhere did I see any data showing that new facilities would increase graduation rates. (And I don't disagree in theory that something needs to be done about the high school infrastructure). And frankly, any data that showed what exactly (not opinions or anecdotal research) *is* the barrier to graduation? Is no information collected when these students drop out? If we had facts then maybe we could devise an approach to mitigate the reasons, and people would consider Albany more of a long term possibility for their families. The high taxes are punishing; there is no incentive for people to stay as their families grow since a larger house in the city often comes with an extra mortgage payment in the form of taxes. It's frustrating, to say the least.

So many people look down on the schools here with no first-hand knowledge of a single school. I feel like those people use "bad schools in Albany" as a way to deny that they are really moving bc they fear so many black and brown kids in the same school with their kids and the general racial make up of our wonderful city. To those, I say, good riddance, you were never really going to stay after your kid reached school-age anyway.

To the rest of the people wondering if they should stay or should go, do what the writer of this piece is doing, gain some first-hand knowledge of schools in this city before you put them down, and check out the whiter, wealthier suburban place you are considering. If that is your scene, then go. Nothing Albany could say or do will change your mind. All places have their plusses and minuses. City living and higher taxes are not for everyone. We get a lot of bang for our buck here in Albany. Just be honest with yourself above all and you will choose the right place.

Wish I knew how to help Albany school share the incredible stories. I love our communuty school. I love my neighborhood. I love walking to things we need. I can't imagine living elsewhere, and it hurts to see so many friends and families prices out or chosing to leave for the burbs. I wish they could stay and help solve our city's problems with us.

Turnover is definitely a huge issue with Albany, especially when families leaving are replaced with landlords. I lived in Pine Hills when I was just out of UAlbany and pretty much nobody took care of their apartments or the surrounding area because they knew they’d be living somewhere else soon. The more the area goes downhill the more people leave and the more landlords move in... it's a vicious cycle.

The school perception is also a major issue for us. As an outsider who didn’t grow up here, everything I hear about Albany High sounds pretty terrible. There was a long stretch where after school brawls were happening and metal detectors were being installed… now it sounds like the school is falling apart and getting worse w/ budget cuts. Not exactly an ideal sounding place to send our kids.

That said, the news doesn't talk about the positive stuff pretty much ever and I’m sure it’s MUCH better than it sounds from the outside, but when it comes to your kids it’s really tough to take the chance.

I would love to live in the city with my family (3 kids, not yet school age) and I love the idea of being able to walk to the parks or shops and have my kids take advantage of the city's events without having to pile in the car, but the negative stuff (be it perception or reality) is keeping us away so we live in boring old Guilderland.

This article raises some really interesting points and very important concerns for the city's leaders to consider. Something else that came to mind as I was reading--a major reason I moved from Guilderland into the City of Albany was because I relied on the bus to get to my job in downtown. Frequent buses and a direct route was really important to me, as my job didn't provide parking. Investing in the transportation system can help young working families enormously

Absolutely worthless article. As a person without children, I disagree with your assertion that I am not part of a "solid tax base of people invested in the city." In fact, my tax dollars go to the schools that you benefit from. You also provide no statistical evidence to support your claim. No evidence of "houses turning over every 5 years" either. I maybe you're correct but until it's documented, you're just gossiping.

On to your gripes...

1. Learn to use google. There's a lot of information out there on the various city websites already. Why should we spend tax dollars on something that comes down to convenience? How does this make the city better for young families?

2. Did you even realize that YOU are propagating that rumor right now? Again, no statistics. How do you even know if this is true? It may seem like that from your point of view but let's be honest, everyone has an opinion.

3. Why sould we spend tax dollars on setting up play dates for your children? Why don't you organize an event for your own children? They are your children so why should other people pay to socialize them?

4. Is the reason you want to know what's going on with the lottery so you can fix the results and make sure your child has an advantage? Why does the process matter? It's a lottery for a reason.

Here is a better article on this topic:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/08/19/its-hard-to-build-cities-for-kids-but-do-they-really-need-them/

Basically, Albany should focus on dense affordable housing for young childless professionals because they're the cheapest to maintain and they provide revenue to pay for the expensive (somewhat annoying and needy) families (statistical facts referenced in the article). While I agree Albany should invest in its future residents, your slander gets us no closer to that goal. What about revitalizing the Clinton Ave area or Arbor Hill? With a little incentive from the city and the right developers, those areas could experience a renaissance with young professionals that could fund a better community.

One thing that I have been thinking about, perhaps as a positive side effect of raising two kids in the city is the exposure that we get to other peoples' diverse cultures, experiences and backgrounds. The future will most certainly ask that our children understand and communicate in a diverse and connected world in order to be successful. Our neighborhood and our school (go New Scotland Elementary!) has given us many opportunities to be with and learn from variety of people.

This is a great piece, thanks Nicole. School perception is definitely an issue the City needs to work on. But I do believe its just perception. I have never heard a first-person complaint. Everyone I know that has a child - from elementary to high school - in Albany schools loves it. And yet I am constantly asked if I plan to live in Albany when my son enters school. And while I shouldn't, I feel a bit self-conscious about saying yes. Like I am making a bad parenting decision.

I do think its important that all cities, not just Albany, make their case as family-friendly. Because I think urban amenities can make our lives as parents easier - transportation options, eyes on the street, kid-friendly neighborhood events (movies & concerts!), neighborhood library programs, schools within walking distance, etc. I could honestly go on and on.

Regarding Albany High: I know doctors, lawyers, politicians, and other professionals who send their children to AHS and their kids are in the prestigious IB program, are in the world -traveled marching band, are in the incredible theater program, take excellent advanced courses, and their kids go to Harvard, Barnard, MIT, Yale, etc, etc..

Yes, if your family is poor and you did not attend college, then your kid is probably going to struggle in high school and possibly drop out--we need to fix that in this city--poverty hurts children. Kids start school behind and the focus getting their test scores up rather than truly engaging them as learners means we kill any joy of learning there may be in those young kids and label them as failures from kindergarten on up. Those are the kids that are dropping out. Kids from upper and middle class families can and do do very well at AHS and beyond. So, I'm not sure what the concern is about AHS if you and your partner are college educated and your kid is already doing fine in school.

For those who really do like Albany, the Heldeberg neighborhood is awesome. You can walk to New Scotland Elementary School, the JCC, the library, and bars/restaurants. A friend is selling their house on Van Schoick; check it out:
http://www.realtyusa.com/property/69-VAN-SCHOICK-AV-Albany-NY-12208/AlbanyNY/201521551/

For people considering leaving Albany because of the taxes, calculate how much extra you'll be paying in car payments, insurance, gas, maintenance, if you move out of the city. Taxes on the same house as mine cost $2,000 less in Guilderland, but when I calculated the extra transportation expenses, it cancelled out the tax differences. Plus, that's just the monetary cost of driving, you also need to think about the added time in the car and the added stress of driving longer distances.

Most people that flee Albany because of the schools have never even set foot in an actual city school, talked to a real city teacher, or talked to an actual parent who has children in the city schools. It amounts to the same thing as people in Clifton Park who say they'll never live in the city, even though they have never even set foot in Albany. The school issue is a community/poverty/neighborhood issue. More than 50% of the students in Albany come from families at or below the poverty line. They bring all of the problems associated with poverty into the schools. Do you really think you can separate neighborhood and family life from schools? The teachers and staff are overwhelmingly amazing in the Albany City Schools, and that's why kids from middle income families do overwhelmingly well in the public schools - including the middle and high schools - and go on to good colleges. There is so much ignorance and fear out there. Don't let ignorance and fear dictate your decisions.

The other night I had the misfortune of driving around in circles in Halfmoon-Clifton Park area while waiting for my daughter who was at a suburban friends birthday party. After about 20 minutes I became nauseated and depressed. I had never been there before but I swear I had seen it all before when I visited Dallas, and Atlanta, and Houston, and all the other banal faceless, soulless "cities" of America. The typical highway exit saturated strip mall environment of Applebee's and Staples Super stores and the like is revolting to me and it is beyond my comprehension that anyone would knowingly want to live in a Disney like theme park setting like that. For the life of me I drove looking for somewhere "unique" or "different" that may have been representative of the "town" to maybe hang out at a waste some time and all I could come up with was Dunkin Doughnuts in some nondescript strip mall! I know places like Albany have their issues, not the least of which is crime, abandonment, and confiscatory taxes, but at least it's "real". I do think children that see the "real "world will be better of for it in the end.....otherwise they will end up just like the other robotrons in suburbia fueling up their SUV's and going to Walmart to pick up there garbage to fill their empty large houses and lives. There is NO beauty nor energy nor architecture nor culture in these empty collections of cul de sacs. All that I could ever keep thinking was that this is what Columbine must be like! Having said all that with the taxes in Albany I do understand why they do it.........so freaking sad........

I see a lot of the comments on here and I agree with both sides. I've lived in Albany all my life except for time in the military. Its a Jekyll and Hyde scenario. First off the taxes are a killer. I know a lot of people who like the city but when family gets bigger and need a bigger house they just cant do the taxes. A big problem is a majority of the city is tax exempt. Albany medical center is buying up city blocks and pay no taxes along with College of St. Rose doing the same. Now add on the other hospitals and colleges with in the city. None of them pay taxes. Second, no one is going to invest serious money in the South End, Arbor hill and West Hill Clinton Ave areas. Truth be told the areas are trash ridden, Slumlords who don't care about there properties, uneducated 20 something year old moms and dads with 3-5 kids before they are 23 years old. Not to mention parents who let there kids run all hours of the night. Before people say Im this or that I grew up in this neighborhood and work in these neighborhoods and this is majority of what I see. I could go on and on. And I haven't even gotten to the crime.

I think there is certainly a problem with both the perception of Albany schools AND the lottery system. Elementary school is a big problem, and a major reason families leave our neighborhood. We own our home in Center Square, which we purchased before we had children. We live on a vibrant block, and there were several families with young children when we moved in. Literally all of those families (5 families in 5 years) left when their children turned 5 and didn't win the magnet lottery. Five families sold their homes with the same complaint: no one wanted to send their child to Giffin. Now we are parents, making the same consideration.

I think the neighborhood/magnet elementary system is seriously flawed. If it is intended to create economic diversity in high quality schools, it should not be weighted by giving preference to families who live in the neighborhood of the school. Montessori, probably the most sought school, is in a nice neighborhood with larger, nicer homes... Also, I think Center Square gets the short end of the stick with the neighborhood schools. I only know this from my own experience, so maybe this affects other neighborhoods too, but Center Square has no neighborhood school. Our school is Giffin in the South End, which doesn't feel connected to our neighborhood in any way. We don't get preference in any magnet lottery. And our neighborhood hosts more than its fair share of community events and crowds, and carries a high tax burden with its high value homes. I am not complaining about the taxes, they are simply too high for us to pay together with private elementary school tuition. Do we really need all those resources supporting so many schools? Couldn't some of that be spread to junior high or the high schools? Or to meal or outreach programs to one of the struggling neighborhoods?

I acknowledge that income inequality it a major problem with the city's neighborhoods. But I think it is important that middle class families stay here, rather than flee for the burbs.

I understand this is a bit off-topic given the subject, but I'll throw my 2c in anyway. Aside for the act for raising children there is very little of interest in Albany. It's small, there are few places of interest, the landscape is boring. Roaming the streets is mostly pointless as few things of note are to be found. There are bars, but they exist in isolated pockets of which there is only a handful, and they have the same crowd for the most part. The only good thing about the area is how easy it is to leave it and get to nearby interesting places in pretty much any direction - Vermont, Boston, NYC, Jersey, Maryland.

Albany needs to work on it's "boring and bland" reputation

I can completely relate to your feelings. We are in very similar circumstances, and when we began house hunting for a larger home to keep up with our expanded family, we took the well-worn path of starting to look in Delmar/Bethlehem. But for all of the reasons you listed above - walkable restaurants and bars, great community, short commute, etc. we decided to stay in Albany and we found a larger home in the city. The tipping point for us staying was the school system - we have had a wonderful experience with one of the elementary schools (my son is a kindergartner) and we have heard nothing but good things from those who kept their kids in the Albany school system. Yes there can be better communication (I suffered through the mystery of the pre-K lottery too), and better overall outreach to families by the city, but I think the benefits outweigh the challenges of living in Albany. Every school system has its drawbacks. I have a good friend who works in one of the suburban districts deemed a "great school system" who brings to light a lot of serious issues facing their schools. I like the fact that my children will be exposed to a multitude of cultures as part of their education. I also like the fact that there are a lot of locally owned restaurants, pubs, etc. that are close by and allow my husband and I easier opportunities to get out sans children every once in a while. And sorry Michael, but your assertion that Albany should solely focus on recruiting childless young professionals and that families are "somewhat annoying and needy" eliminates your opinions from any thoughtful consideration. Albany needs all types of residents to not only support it financially, but to provide a wide diversity of backgrounds, strengths and perspectives essential to building a vibrant city.

Great article! Don't listen to people filled w/ anger and negativity (especially people w/o children writing negative long winded comments on an article about families)

This may be relevant to only my corner of the city, but the perceptions of the school district tend to be the making of the region itself, which is unfortunate, given that this school district, when stacked against its suburban counterparts, offers the best opportunities. When I discuss the issue with my colleagues, mostly suburbanites, they swear off Albany as a death sentence for your kid. Some of my younger neighbors, from the suburbs of Albany, but loved urban living an have invested in a home within the city, still seem to be nagged by these perceptions, branded in them by their parents, and most likely parents' parents.

I moved here a decade ago, from out of state, naive to this perception and my kids have excelled and I've had no issues whatsoever. Most of my neighbors, have the same story: outsiders to the region, moving to upstate NY, looking for a walkable, urban community, and seeing nothing but positives about the school district. They have all kept or graduated kids through the school, baffled by the wide eyed stares they get from their colleagues at work when you mention your kids go to Albany.

At the end of the day, if you care about your kids education and are involved, the school district has wonderful programs and opportunities to supplement your parental support for a good education. Yes, the graduation rates may be low, but that is for good reason; the district must deal with a complex socio-economic mix of a student body. The school district represents a third a students day and there for can only do so much. Graduation rates are a poor indicator in my book, when you dig down into the data. My neighbor is a doctor, who's kids went through Albany, and he kind of related it this way to me. He works with many doctors who excel in their field, get tons of awards, but often sacrifice their own patient outcome stats to deal with patients who are tough to treat, typically because they make poor lifestyle choices that medicine can only do so much to counteract, or are from low-income communities and have little recourse to engage in proper health outcomes, until it comes down to an expensive treatment that can't be avoided. Meanwhile, you have average doctors who only treat the healthy and well-off, who's stats are perfect. Essentially, his point, these patient outcome stats are not always indicative of the quality of the doctor, since the biggest independent variable they have no control over is the patient. The same can be said about school districts, especially urban ones, where many of their students face complex issues their suburban counterparts often don't have to.

So, Michael, no Trick or Treat candy at your house this year?

P.S. Keep off my lawn.

Wow, quite a broadside from Michael up there. Som interesting points but I just want to respond to the last bit; the Albany County Land Bank is focusing on properties on Clinton Ave. It's a great start, but I'd love to hear more ideas on how these blighted areas can be revitalized (this is a bit selfish too, as someone who has buying a house in his 5-year plan and would really, really like to stay downtown, possibly on Clinton).

Paul touches on the socioeconomic aspects of school responsibilities and performance. That's a big topic, very much related to the original article, but probably too big of a bite to chew right here. I will link to this timely article about black males leaving teaching.

A lot of good points and discussion brought up here, and instead of sifting and trying to pick out the bad to argue with, I'll say this: Albany is not one thing. What a family (or an individual, or a married couple with no children, or anyone) sees, experiences, and has to deal with in Center Square is different than in Pine Hills which is different than the South End which is different than on Delaware Ave which is different than the Mansion District which is different than Eagle Hill which is different than Arbor Hill and so on. There's no one solution because there's no one problem.

Just as those who live in Albany must overlook some of the less "depressing" elements of the city (boarded up and abandoned buildings, etc.), in order to focus on the good and positive, one must also do so in Clifton Park. Yes, there are strip malls and Olive Garden and Staples and other regular signs of suburbia

However, put in a little effort and you'll find there are a lot of great things, too. Just spend five minutes on Yelp and you'll see plenty of local finds and small businesses. Need a place to hang out, try some coffee and treats at Mocha Lisa's Caffe. They have coffee and a great tea selection brewed and some great baked goods from another great local business, the Italian bakery Dolce & Biscotti, (That's right, we have bakeries besides Panera!)

Want some lunch? Kebab Masala might have the best Pakistani food in the Capital Region and there's a great Halal market a couple stores down (Yes, they're in a strip mall). Not in the mood for that? Try Saigon Spring (in the same strip mall!), Sushi Thai (The Dalai Lama got his takeout here when he last visited.), Oh, and our Applebees is gone, replaced by a local restaurant - Pasta Pane. Did I mention these were all local businesses? This is just scratching the surface.

No need for food? Try checking out Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library - great programs and services! Go shopping at some local stores - Wit's End is a funky gift shop that somehow has everything. There's Parkway Music, Schmaltz Brewery, farms, ice cream shacks in the summer. Again, just scratching the surface.

Point is, Clifton Park is not only Dunkin' Donuts - which, by the way, you can also find on the corner of Lark and Madison.

Just open your eyes a bit, put away your stereotypes, and maybe you won't be so nauseated next time.

Jay that was the typical reply I was looking from suburbanites!!! It's NOT ABOUT THE COFFEE!!!! It's about living in a tight knit area where one DOES not need to live in a car just to get a gallon of milk!!! Have you ever lived anywhere nice???? You CANNOT compare the strip of Vegas with the beautiful city of Paris although you can get a coffee in Vegas too! I dare you to walk around the Capital Building and up and down state street and thru center square and thru Washington park and up to Buckingham pond and compare that life experiences with driving around endless cul de sacs in fake cheap plastic developments with names like Whispering Pines and conclude that suburbia is where it's at! There are even areas within the City of Albany where one can by a McMansion in a cul de sac if one so wishes. And another thing the city of Boston is ALSO FULL of colleges and hospitals and other tax exempt properties yet they have LOW property taxes because they have something called INDUSTRY and PRIVATE business..... Albany is more akin to living in a soviet bloc state.

I think there is a perception problem. Not just with albany but with any urban area. What we have to do (we the advocates of albany, this even includes people who moved out of the city) is change that rhetoric. Instead of saying we have a horrible school district we have to promote the successes. Instead of saying what can the fiscally challenged city do for us, we have to say what can we do to improve the city or clean up our neighborhood parks. The city of Albany residents and the people who frequent here are fortunate to have beautiful and historic parks like washington and lincoln park. We have so
many assets.

The Albany county land bank is a great resource for our vacant properties and it is important that we continue and support that effort. The disinvestment of some neighborhoods did not happen over night and it is going to take a time to bring them back to life. But with the land bank and other organizations we can do it.

This is a great conversation but we need to change our rhetoric of how we look and talk about Albany and we need to find a way how we can make it better. We are all busy but if we all do one thing we can make a difference.

It's brain gain, not drain. Or, at least, that was the conclusion for upstate population flows by a commission from then governor spritzer' wife. Not sure if it's still relevant, or if I'm recalling it correctly, so take w grain of salt. It went like this. People leave upstate at a rate of 12%, which is the national average. So, that's normal. But, people come to upstate at a rate of 3%, where the national average is around 10%. So, less than normal, hence the drain.

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Madison Avenue fire Cleanup continues at the site of a fire that destroyed four homes on Madison Avenue in Albany on Monday night. Authorities have... (more)

Recent Comments

Whenever I drive into the Warehouse District, things get eerily quiet. If I get out of my car, I can't see anyone else around, and I get the sense that Nipper is watching me... sometimes I feel like I can just barely see his tail wagging out of the corner of my eye. That's crazy, right? I always get an urge to pick up a tree branch and throw it... but there aren't any trees. When I feel the first playful bite on the back of my leg, that's when it's time to get back in the car and drive. #nipperisalive

Drawing: Murder Mystery Night at Takk House

...has 37 comments, most recently from mg

Walking Myrtle Ave, end to end

...has 13 comments, most recently from Beyj

"This may seem like an obsession, but it is not. This is the residue of an obsession."

...has 1 comment, most recently from acw

Troy Summer Square starts this week

...has 1 comment, most recently from S

Word(s) on the street

...has 11 comments, most recently from Randal Putnam