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Albany Seeking Input On New Community Center For West Hill

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Councilors Jahmel Robinson and Joyce Love.
Dave Lucas
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Councilors Jahmel Robinson and Joyce Love.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and two common councilors are soliciting public input for a new West Hill Community Center.

Sheehan says the foundation for creating a new center began with the 2020 completion of upgrading streetlights and sidewalks.  Consultant GreenPlay LLC was hired to conduct a needs assessment and location study. 5th ward Common Council member Jahmel Robinson says residents he's spoken with are looking forward to having a place to gather.

"They want the amenities at the community center that fits the needs of the community. Some things that some of the people have mentioned they want, you know, a satellite campus at the community center where they can partner, we can partner with local colleges to provide courses, you know, right in the heart of our community. You know, some people are asking for, they want a place where their children can swim in the summertime. So there's a lot of great buzz around it and people are really excited to get into the planning process."

Sheehan, a Democrat running for a third term, says the survey is meant to identify community priorities as the planning process for a new center moves forward.

"It's important for us to step back and to listen. To listen to what our families are looking for, to listen to what our seniors are looking for, and to really imagine and re-imagine what might happen."

Sheehan adds community members have conducted several focus groups with GreenPlay LLC to help to formulate the survey.

"As we move into fewer and fewer COVID restrictions, I'm really excited that this process actually is happening now, when we can be in person with one another, when we can really talk to community members and get their input as to what resources they want to see in West Hill."

The new center may include a variety of amenities, including a pool, a gymnasium, fitness area, training classrooms, meeting spaces, senior programming, and more.

Robinson says the concept has drawn interest in other wards across the city.

"Council members have indicated that they have a need for a community center in their neighborhood as well. And the mayor has mentioned in the past that you know, she wants this process to be a model to how we can get community centers into other neighborhoods in the city as well."

Third ward Councilor Joyce Love says wherever the center is sited, tranpsortation will be provided to neighborhood residents, even if she has to get behind the wheel herself.

"Tina Allen, who's with the tenant association at 45 Central Avenue, Townsend Homes, and myself will provide transportation. If I had to lean on the mayor, every now and then I will, but we will provide transportation for the people in the senior home. In the surrounding areas also, I'll make sure that my seniors partake in this."

Residents can take the surveyin person at three community events (pictured below).

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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