Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan delivered her State of the City address Wednesday night at City Hall.
Sheehan's seventh State of The City address, themed "Albany's Rise," focused on issues ranging from affordable housing to Hudson River cleanup.
Among the highlights: the recently publicized Child Opportunity Index and how the Democrat says her administration is using the data to change lives: "In 2015, the Brandeis child opportunity index showed that Albany, New York was the least equitable city based on opportunities for our black and brown children, compared to our predominantly white neighborhoods, and that was a gap that resulted in us starting down a path of a lot of soul searching."
The mayor linked the index to the city improving parks and recreation as an overall component of its new Equity Agenda, touting the Lincoln Park revitalization efforts. "Under my administration, we have really focused on making it accessible and on really returning this jewel to what it was before the Empire State Plaza was built and it was cut off from a neighborhood that once had nearly 10,000 people living in it and coming to this park. And through the Lincoln Park Master Plan, we were able to recapture some of that history and understanding of the connectedness that was there. And we were able to come up with solutions about how to improve that connectedness and also bring this park into meeting the needs of the 21st century of the South End and the rest of the city. That Master Plan is complete in 2020. We are investing $1.25 million to begin phase one."
Sheehan says the city has seen an end to the shortage of 9-1-1 dispatchers and exceeded its 5 percent goal to reduce certain types of violent and non-violent crimes, including murder, robbery, burglary and larceny from 2018 to 2019, by three percentage points.
Sheehan says her administration is combating blight, improving streets and sidewalks while bolstering neighborhood amenities with projects like the Ida Yarborough homes makeover and coming Skyway.
She gave special attention to the 2020 Census. "I want every single person in the city to be counted. And I want them to know that they count to us. And so I hope that you will work with me to take this as a rallying cry. I hope that every time you're at a neighborhood meeting, you're talking about the census. I hope that you're going to the elementary schools in your wards on those concert nights, when we know parents come out to see their kids perform, to make sure that they've been counted. And heck, I may sign on to be an enumerator because you know, there are enough hours in the day go and knock on doors. This is like a campaign. But instead of getting signatures, you are telling people that they count and you are really laying the roadwork, you are laying the foundation for what this city will be able to accomplish for the next 10 years."
Officials says an accurate head count will ensure Albany gets its fair share of opportunities and funding on the federal level. Sheehan issued a call inviting more newcomers to bolster the numbers. "More than 50 percent of our population growth in the last five years was the result of immigration. In other words, we would have lost population, if it were not for immigration. The refugees coming to this community and being resettled here and becoming part of our diverse, this diverse community, are part of a workforce that we need to ensure we have here. You know, since 2017, immigration has crashed to less than half of what it was in 2016. And it's even less more of a reduction here in the city of Albany."
Common Councilmember Owusu Anane has his eye on the state budget: "One of the things that I wish the administration would probably talk about is funding for the state of $12.5 million that we asked for. We can have a vision for the city, we can have a bold vision, but if we don't have the necessary resources, to back those visions, it’s going to be a challenge. And one of the things that I look forward to work with my colleagues is making sure that we received the $12.5 million from the state and this year, we make it permanent."