Albany's equity agenda got a boost Friday at Black Lives Matter Park.
"We are marking today a significant step forward in our equity agenda and our efforts to build a city where every neighborhood works."
Mayor Kathy Sheehan kicked off an initiative in the former Livingston Park aimed at involving West Hill residents in the process of building a community center.
"It didn't take a big study to understand that West Hill is the most under resourced neighborhood in the city of Albany. When I became mayor we undertook to try to create a plan for West Hill, but that exercise and the community meetings and the outreach that were done, as we worked on that plan, really just demonstrated that before we could plan, we needed to invest."
Sheehan says the foundation for creating it began with the completion this year of upgrading streetlights and replacing asphalt sidewalks with actual concrete sidewalks found in other city neighborhoods. The Democrat also noted the Quail Street Boxing Gym has received $600,000 to preserve its infrastructure.
"Today we are issuing an RFP to hire a team to conduct a community center needs assessment and location study in the West Hill Neighborhood... this RFP will identify the types and level of demand for community services and programs that will include potentially a gymnasium, recreational space, a pool, weigh room, commercial kitchen, training classrooms, employment services, meeting space, programs and services for seniors."
108th district state Assemblyman John McDonald, also a Democrat, represents West Hill.
"Some people, the cynics, would say 'Geez, what's this with the trees and the sidewalks?' The bottom line is, when I look at some of our elders in the community, these are things that people who've lived here for years, if not decades, have said 'why not us? why aren't we given the opportunity?'"
McDonald pledged to assist the project in any way he can at the capitol.
Sheehan adds the needs assessment is going to take some time and stressed community input will influence the design and location of the new facility. She adds a variety of public and private meetings will be scheduled. As for funding...
"I'm committing capital funds in my 2021 budget for engineering and design costs for the community center because we need to keep moving this forward."
It is anticipated a timeline for the project will begin to take shape once the RFP is awarded.