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Albany County Leaders Agree To Establish County’s First Land Bank

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WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas
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Municipal  leaders announced this afternoon they've agreed to establish Albany County’s first land bank. The initiative sets the stage for revitalization of blighted neighborhoods, a longstanding problem ... 

County Executive Dan McCoy announced that an application has been filed with the NYS Empire State Development Corporation to formally establish the Albany County Land Bank, to "restore the community."

Shawn Morse, Chairman of the Albany County Legislature, lauded the announcement, which comes after the Capital Region — including Albany County — missed out on state funding from the attorney general in the fall of 2013.     "We're not building fancy casinos or fancy hotels. We are rebuilding communities. We are working to restore the hope of people and communities that have been forgotten for far too long. We are taking the fight to poverty today, and that's why we're all here together, standing united, because there is nothing more important than rebuilding communities or giving people hope, and Albany County wants to be the leader in that initiative.”

McCoy says that in the early stages, the land bank will focus on the City of Albany to gain a foothold and address the city’s concentrations of approximately 375 vacant and abandoned properties in the downtown area.  The county has committed $1 million over the next two years to fund the startup of the land bank.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan is confident the land bank will rebuild neighborhoods, block by block.  "The city of Albany, in addition to the million dollars that the county has committed to this, has committed initially 250-thousand and then an additional 250-thousand dollars in programmatic funding so that as the land bank builds its inventory, we can provide the funding through the programmatic dollars that we have available to us to get those properties redeveloped, to get families back into those homes and to rebuild our neighborhoods."

Sheehan promised the city would also provide mortgage assistance.  It is expected that the land bank will apply for Regional Economic Development funding and seeking other sources in its early stages.

Officials say the land bank will serve as a tool to help eliminate blight, increase the tax base by getting affected properties back on the tax rolls and help to increase the taxable and market value of neighborhoods by demolishing vacant buildings.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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