NIMBY In Prog Utopia

I would like to thank Jordan Carleo Evangilist for my Wednesday afternoon smile!! Here it is!! I learned about this last week and I couldn’t wait to read it….Jordie never disappoints.

So, this lobby firm, purchased this cute little house…nearly across the street from my Councilman, Richard Conti. It happens that this house is smack dab in the middle of a tight knit community…nearly all of them “progressive” and “well to do.” Now, for some reason….that community decided they didn’t want a lobby firm existing there or the lobbyist living there…so, they caused problems for him.

Enter, stage left, with a vacant residence purchased for over $400K, the owner decided to put it to good use and turn it into an alcohol rehab residence....ya know, for recovering alcoholics. (Keyword = recovering.) The neighbors, with Conti waving silently in the background while pulling strings with his buddy….Chair of the BZA, Richard Berkley. (I swear I saw Berkley’s name in the online article….but it’s gone now…what’s up with that Jordie??) Oh, and there’s no mention of this…Mr. Conti’s frequently seen protégé and friend, Richard Berkley, is also on the ReZone Albany Committee…which would trump any BZA decision. (Oh, and that Committee is filled with all those “oh so altruistic” progs and friends of the Councilman Conti…my representative.)

(Here’s the ReZone Tech report that was posted on 6/5)

Now, in case anyone is wondering, I also live in this R-2C district which is supposed to include only one and two family residential row houses. Now, I don’t live in this type of dwelling…and the majority of my neighbors don’t live in this type of dwelling. As a matter of fact, I live amongst a dozen or so commercial interests…none of which are on the zoning map. Not only that, I have many apartment buildings, a flop house, low income housing, a food pantry, a college, law offices, stores, lobby firms and a liquor store…none of which required special zoning.








Well, my guess is that none of those “illegal” buildings are on a certain block of Chestnut Street, my Councilman Conti’s street of residence. You see, this little one block strip is just a little utopia in the heart of the bustling and earthy Center Square community for which this single block “controls the volume.” In Utopia they seem to have ample parking, thanks to Councilman Conti compared to the rest of Center Square, they don’t have soup kitchens or food pantries…it’s a paradise, I tell ya!! Heck, they even have an annual invitation-only block party…in front of Councilman Conti’s house (and in front of the proposed Oxford House). The whole lot of them block off the street (thank you Councilman) and enjoy an old fashioned “git together” (street drinking encouraged)…but only for those invited to this utopic block in the heart of Albany.

It seems that my criticism of Merton Simpson’s losing his NIMBY case didn’t teach my neighbors one single thing.  They didn’t learn anything when the City was successfully sued by the Oxford House when the discriminated against recovering alcoholics in the past. I mean, heck, I’ve been drinking with all of these people and they are worried about NON-DRINKERS moving to their neighborhood??? What do they fear, the recoverers will sit in judgment of their street drinking? Do they think that the residential facility praised for its very successful program will rain on their party parade? I don’t get it…when my block…in the same zone, hosts drunken bums living on vacant stoops and in bushes and all kinds of lobbyists and legislators and businesses…but my street is not as filled with the elite progs as Upper Chestnut. (Apologies to those neighbors not fitting the prog profile…you know who you are!)

I would like to be the first Center Square resident to welcome Oxford House! While I’m sure you true altruistic types already know the law…you don’t know Richard Conti and Richard Berkley…I call these conspiring twins “The Dicks.” They  may sneak in secret votes, go offline on decisions, create reappearing code. Here’s a neat little guide I found….with which I agree…here’s a sample from the preamble to the strategies and laws preventing Albany’s  NIMBY in Center Square:

-a community's fear of having an alcohol or other drug treatment program located within its borders is unfounded. In reality, treatment programs pose no legitimate danger to the health or welfare of the residents, nor do they draw substance abusers and pushers to the area. In fact, alcohol and other drug treatment programs improve neighborhoods by helping people get well.

The Oxford House would be beneficial to this community. We should welcome this new neighbor with open arms…they are non-drinkers…they are car-free and focused on the 12 step program….this is a good thing!! And, hey, if it’s okay to have Hope House, Hospitality House, the original Oxford House and multiple other addiction recovery center/residences in Arbor Hill, West Hill and the South End, why isn’t it okay for Center Square.

What’s the difference? I think you know.




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