Once again the prospect of a land bank becoming a reality in Albany County is in the news again. The Audit and Finance Committee of the legislature approved it earlier this week, but approved it only after withdrawing the $250K in funding for two years that was originally written into the measure. What that basically means is that there is no funding currently from the county as of yet in it’s next years budget which is undergoing it’s approval process. The legislation will go before the body for a vote November 13th. The deadline to apply to the state for permission to create the land bank is November 30th. It’s already got a name: The Albany County Property Corporation. How catchy. Unless some brave soul(s) come forth and fund the project’s annual budget, which is roughly $1 million, the proposition will go nowhere. Is that how other cities have dealt with their funding for their land bank’s, have the residents of their cities, counties fund the projects? If this land bank business is going to go anywhere, it’s primary sponsor, Chris Higgins has to light a fire under the county legislators asses in order for this to get passed. These days, the county can’t agree on anything. Look at how long they’ve been trying to pass that stupid legislation on the second hand jewelery mess. Even if it passes the legislators vote, there is absolutely no guarantee that it will get by the desk of County Executive Dan McCoy. He has yet to commit to the project, but supports it in concept. What the heck is that supposed to mean. Either you do, or you don’t. Imagine you trying to close on a home by November 30th, and the bank that you are applying for a mortgage to says that they approve it in concept but….There are only a few factions within the county that approve of the land bank. Most of the residents will say that it’s a great idea, but the county has lived with this blight for so many years, and there are so many of these dilapidated properties out there, and I live in Guilderland, and I don’t really have to look at them, so as long as my taxes don’t go up, I guess I’m in favor of it, but no I can’t make a donation to the cause, because I have to pay for my daughters ballet lessons and the nanny is costing so much, you know. Once again this is a classic case of the county putting the cart before the horse. You come up with the idea that Albany county needs a land bank. You give it a catchy name, it gets sponsored in the legislature, the county says it has no money to give to it, and you are back at square one. Why don’t you get your ducks in a row first. There will probably be another opportunity to apply for permission from the state to establish a land bank. I’m sure the governor doesn’t want his capitol city’s downtown to look like a poster child for urban blight. Get it right, and you will have the backing you need, and that doesn’t include organizations like Historic Albany, which can only hinder the process.
And that is “The Daily Take”