Thursday, September 4, 2008

LAST CHANCE to save 118-120 Washington Avenue

One week from today, we'll probably know the fate of the historic buildings on Washington Avenue, just west of the Fort Orange Club.

During the past several months, I've talked with many people about these structures. I've also received a number of calls from people who wondered what was going on with the building next door to where I work -- at "the point" where Central Avenue and Washington Avenue meet Henry Johnson Boulevard.

The callers often expressed concern about the facade of the building, and asked what the new tenant, TrustCo Bank, was doing to the windows. "It looks terrible," the callers would say ... "How could they brick up those windows?"

Several of these calls came from people frequently considered champions of the preservation movement. People whose silence was deafening on the situation just a few blocks east on Washington Avenue.

The powerful and influential members of the Fort Orange Club want to do much more than reconfigure a facade or close off a few window openings. They want to demolish viable buildings that illustrate the commercial legacy of Washington Avenue, and revise our city's history to enclose their private club in a fenced-off, "park-like" setting.

So, one week from today, will you think, "It's too bad that the Fort Orange Club was allowed to tear down those buildings," or "I'm glad I wrote that letter or made that phone call to say that the unique streetscape of our neighborhood should not be sacrificed for a few private parking spaces."

I hope you will join your friends and neighbors and let the Fort Orange Club, the BZA, and other decision-makers know that residents of Albany don't think it's EVER a good idea to tear down historic buildings to create surface parking lots!

The BZA meets next on Wednesday, September 10. Please take a moment to:

Thank you.

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