Thursday, March 06, 2008

It’s Different When It’s Your Neighborhood

A Plattsburgh resident expresses her concerns about deteriorating neighborhoods to the Plattsburgh Common Council.

Want action? It depends. Where do you live or work?

Deteriorating buildings. Noise, vandalism, litter. A minority of students and landlords causing a majority of problems. Center City (AKA Combat Zone) residents keep pushing for solutions.

They spoke this evening at the Common Council meeting in favor of two proposed items. The suggested changes in the City Code were the result of work done by the Plattsburgh City-College Commission.

One item, a new noise ordinance, passed. But the second one, a redefinition of what constitutes a functional family, ran into a snag. Part of this proposal would limit the number of unrelated people living in an apartment unit from 4 to 3.

Most Combat Zone residents who took to the podium were in favor of the 4 to 3 change.

But Councilor James Calnon wanted an amendment added to the family redefinition item to keep the number at 4. Calnon said that there might be legal challenges, civil rights issues raised, if that limit was dropped. His amendment was approved by the other councilors.

Then Councilor Timothy Carpenter said that since the item had been changed by Calnon’s amendment, there should be more time to “digest” the altered item. So the item was tabled for another week for proper digestion. (Burp.)

Meanwhile, entropy waits for no man. The Combat Zone keeps rotting away.

Another item that stirred up controversy was authorizing the Mayor to execute a Memorandum of Agreement with Champlain Valley Janitorial Services commencing on March 6.

There had been a part-time janitor for City Hall but he had quit. Mayor Kasprzak explained a Public Works employee had been on loan to keep the city’s HQ clean but that pulled the employee from his regular duties. So the Mayor had hired someone on a part-time basis through CV Janitorial Services. He noted that the building smelled better.

With my background in janitorial engineering, I knew what the Mayor meant. You gotta change those scented urinal cakes in a timely fashion or the battle is lost.

But a union representative said that the position should be a unionized city job. Denise Nephew of AFSCME said that if the item passed, she would file a grievance. The item passed.

So it seems that with City Hall, if you’re a citizen living in a neighborhood going to shit, you have to wait. The city has to proceed cautiously, wary of legal challenges.

But when City Hall’s own neighborhood is faced with substandard conditions, then action is quick, decisive, even with the threat of a legal action.

Maybe if City Hall was infested from top to bottom with noise, vandalism, and litter, the Combat Zone would see speedier relief.

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