Shared from the 2017-12-17 The Daily Gazette eEdition

Guest column

State needs to continue land bank support

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ETHAN TRAVIS/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

Construction equipment rips into the former Chubby’s Pizza on Crane Street in Schenectady in October to make way for a new Schenectady County Library branch and literacy center.

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Russo

Earlier this week, the Daily Gazette wrote about a long-vacant property in the Eastern Avenue neighborhood that the Capital Region Land Bank helped stabilize for a new life as an Italian bistro.

A few weeks back in Schenectady, the Land Bank demolished Chubby’s, a blight on the Mont Pleasant neighborhood.

This demolition will pave the way for a new county library branch.

Just last week in the city of Amsterdam, three unsafe buildings that were a symbol of decay along the eastern gateway to downtown were demolished as well.

Since 2012, the Capital Region Land Bank has worked to eliminate some of the worst examples of blight to help revitalize the neighborhoods we serve.

We still have much work ahead of us.

There are now 23 land banks throughout New York strengthening communities, revitalizing neighborhoods, supporting local economic development, creating more affordable housing, and improving the environment.

To date, land banks have not cost taxpayers a dime.

All funding has b e e n p rov i d e d through the office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who successfully won lawsuits and obtained settlements against financial institutions during the housing crisis.

This funding was then deployed via a competitive process across the state to fight blight and help energize neighborhoods.

This funding will run out at the end of 2018.

Other states have found ways to help their land banks continue to fight blight.

Land banks across New York need ongoing support to address the vacant and abandoned property problem in our state.

Plenty of work needs to be done to reverse decades of decline, restore communities, combat blight and improve neighborhoods.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and our state legislators have all embraced the need to revitalize urban centers in upstate New York.

Land banks should be part of the answer in concert with other effective state policies and programs designed to support smart-growth cities.

Living next to a vacant or abandoned property – dealing with squatters, rodents and increased risk of fires — is emotionally draining and often results in surrounding homeowners delaying investments in their homes and neighborhoods.

We have seen how positive land bank projects can be in Schenectady and Amsterdam.

Neighbors greet us and often decide to make upgrades to their properties in concert with nearby land bank upgrades.

This change in attitude is what has driven our progress. With the continued support of New York state we can continue to move forward.

Richard Ruzzo is the

Chairman of the Capital

Region Land Bank.

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