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Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan Outlines COVID Relief Spending Priorities

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, city officials and stakeholders at the Washington Park Lakehouse.
Dave Lucas
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, city officials and stakeholders at the Washington Park Lakehouse.

Responding to President Biden’s signing of the American Rescue Plan and the continued expansion of COVID vaccine availability, Mayor Kathy Sheehan launched an effort she’s calling “Restart Albany” Friday in Washington Park.

"The city of Albany is receiving $85 million to replace lost revenue, pay for COVID related expenses and help us to stimulate economic activity that was lost as a result of this pandemic," said Sheehan, who noted that it was exactly a year ago when the first two diagnosed cases of COVID-19 were discovered in Albany County, the beginning of a slide into unprecedented social and economic adversity.

Sheehan says her multi-faceted "Restart Albany" initiative includes a COVID Recovery Task Force to expedite the return to normalcy. Mike Whalen, Administrative Vice President of M&T Bank, co-chairs the body:

"We're gonna have to do this extraordinary equitably, thoughtfully and with all the citizens of Albany in mind."

"We are committed to working closely with Mayor Sheehan to ensure that we equitably and strategically maximize the resources available in the Plan to benefit our entire city." ~ Mike Whalen, Administrative Vice President of M&T Bank

Sheehan said "The American Rescue Plan is going to provide the ability to safely reopen our schools get that vaccine out. As the president said last night it is going to be open to every American adult starting on May 1, which is phenomenal. There's a $1400 stimulus check to our families, housing and nutrition assistance, and access to safe and reliable childcare and affordable health care."

"Restart Albany" figures to add new employees to the Department of General Services to help clean parks, streets and sidewalks, as well as operate a full summer youth employment program along with recreation camps and clinics.

Sheehan says there will be a renewed effort by the City’s Codes Department to ensure continued buildings and regulatory compliance across Albany.

The Democrat, who is running for a third term, is also encouraging neighborhood associations and community leaders to organize neighborhood cleanups in partnership with the city.

"I'm thrilled to say that starting March 17th, all of our city employees who do frontline work and every one of our employees is public facing, will be able to access the vaccine. That's a huge step forward."

Sheehan is also urging residents who need jobs to check out the city website.

Residents interested in applying for positions in the Department of General Services or Department of Recreation can visit www.jobs.albanyny.gov. Additionally, individuals interested in applying for DGS seasonal opportunities can apply online at www.jobs.albanyny.gov or apply in person by visiting DGS Headquarters at 1 Conners Boulevard.

Any group that is interested in organizing a neighborhood cleanup can request supplies and support from the Department of General Services necessary to having a successful cleanup, including tools, gloves, bags and trash collection by visiting www.albanyneighborhoods.com or by calling (518) 434-CITY (2489).

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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