The development company behind the latest effort to build on the 1 Monument Square site in downtown Troy announced Friday that it's pulling out of the $24 million residential/retail project.
In statements, officials for the Kirchoff Companies criticized the city of Troy for what they described as "materially inadequate" info about underground utility lines that complicated construction at the site. And they had sharp words for a group that organized to oppose the project, questioning whether the group had the city's best interests at heart. [TU] [Biz Review]
That group, We Care About the Square, had argued that changes Kirchoff made to its original proposal -- including switching from two buildings to one -- had evolved the project to a degree that it significantly differed from what had first been pitched. In a statement posted on Facebook Friday, it called the proposed project "substandard." It continued:
"Anyone who has been listening to the debate knows that WCATS is a pro-development, pro-design, pro-quality group of invested citizens that values the extraordinary urban and architectural assets of Troy and wants to see the gap in River Street and our city's river façade completed in a manner that connects the downtown to the Riverfront, meets the highest standards of excellence in architectural design, and is of the construction quality the city deserves."
This ending wasn't really a surprise.
It's prime tulip season, so we put together another around of "sliding" before-and-after photos of the tulip beds in Washington Park.
The pre-bloom photos are from April 22. And the post-bloom photos are from Friday, April 29.
The tulips be at their peak this coming week. And thanks to the snapback cold a few weeks ago, it looks like many of them will be around for Tulip Fest.
From the state Department of Environmental Conservation's annual heads-up-there-are-coyotes-here-please-don't-feed-them announcement (emphasis added): "In most cases, coyotes avoid people as much as possible. In fact, coyotes provide many exciting opportunities for New Yorkers. Their howling and yipping at night can provide a haunting but harmless reminder of wildlife in our midst. However, if coyotes learn to associate people with food (such as, garbage or pet food), they may lose their natural fear of humans, and the potential for close encounters or conflicts increases." [NYSDEC] Earlier: About those coyotes
The latest local beverage collaboration: Albany Distilling Company and Death Wish Coffee have teamed up to create a coffee-flavored vodka. And there's a release party for the product of the collaboration this Saturday, April 30 at Olde Saratoga Brewing Co in Saratoga Springs.
Vodka blurbage: "Our most recent joint project has been a long time in the making - Death Wish Vodka. This silky smooth coffee flavored vodka is balanced by roasted choclate and just a touch of sweetness."
The release party is from 2-6 pm. There will be samples of the vodka, and bottles available for sale, along with beers on tap from Olde Saratoga. Also lined up: music from The North & South Dakotas, Angels on the Fourth, and Better Pills. Tickets are $5 ahead / $10 at the door.
Bottles of the vodka will be available on retail shelves starting Monday, a spots such as Empire Wine and Exit 9 Wine and Liquor.
photo: Optimum Exposure Photography / ADC
Because of the #518funk situation this morning (which, we must say, we did not detect) -- and the season generally -- we figured it's a good time to recycle Ryan's post about the very distinct smell of flowering pear trees: What are those stinky trees? A clip:
[A]ll of the approximately 30 species of pear contain the aroma compound pentyl butanoate. I will spare you the biochemistry -- this is the compound that makes pears and apricots smell as they do. One the precursors of pentyl butanoate is butyric acid, which is present in butter, parmesan cheese and... vomit.
The callery pear was a trendy street tree for a while in many cities because of its appearance. Apparently its odor profile was much less publicized. Last year we asked Albany city forester Tom Pfeiffer about the trees:
"[The smell] was something I wasn't aware of," Pfeiffer said of the trees' rather distinctive odor. "Then we had a very warm spring day and I said, 'What is that smell? It smells like cat piss.' The temperature was about 90 and it just made that odor come out. These trees that we had so many of all of sudden... oh, my god, what did we have? So that fell off my list right about then."
It also turns out the pear trees don't hold up well under heavy snow. So between that and the stink, they've since fallen out of favor in cities.
On your mark. Get set. Weekend!
There's so much stuff going on this weekend you may not know what to do first -- food, comedy, films, music, art, history -- baby animals. So. Much. Stuff.
After the jump, a little weekend roadmap to help you figure out how you're going to spend your precious 48(ish) hours. Planning something you don't see here? Drop it in the comments for the rest of us to see.
And whatever you're up to, have a fantastic weekend.
Family questions handling of Troy police fatal shooting investigation, Albany aiming to save $100k with new lights, the kindness of regular people
April 17 fatal shooting by Troy police (updated)
Friday morning the family Edson Thevenin -- the man fatally shot by Troy police during an incident near the Collar City Bridge -- spoke to the media about the case, saying Troy police have changed their story about what happened multiple times. Said Thevenin's wife, Cinthia, about the handling of the case: "They were just trying to wrap things up as quickly as they can and sweep it under the rung. They were hoping it would just go away and we wouldn't ask questions." [TWCN] [TU]
In light of the current dispute between state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Rensselaer County DA Joel Abelove over who should have jurisdiction to investigate the case, a look at an opinion piece Abelove wrote for Times Union this past August about the Andrew Cuomo executive order moving the power to investigate deaths of unarmed civilians at the hands of police to the AG's office: "I remain committed to handling all cases, including those involving law enforcement officers, with impartiality, fairness and honesty, without fear or favor -- but in a lawful and transparent fashion." Abelove continued to decline publicly commenting Thursday. A question in the case: Could Thevenin's car -- which police allege he used to pin an officer against another vehicle -- be considered a weapon? [TU+] [Troy Record] [WNYT]
Stabbing in downtown Troy
Troy police say they're investigating the stabbing of a woman near State Street and the Frear Alley (map) Thursday night. TPD says sounds of moaning led people to discover the woman -- she was taken to the hospital for surgery. [News10] [TWCN] [TU]
Albany apartment fire
A fire at multi-unit home in West Hill late Thursday afternoon has displaced 13 people. Residents say it appears a problem with electric wiring caused the fire. [News10] [WNYT]
CDTA announced this week that it had more than 17.1 million passenger boardings during the fiscal year that ended in March -- a record high for the transit org. It's the third straight year CDTA has set a new annual ridership record.
Boardings were up 1 percent compared the previous fiscal year. And CDTA says they're up 25 percent compared to five years ago.
What's driving the increase? One big factor appears to be the increasing number of "universal access" agreements CDTA has formed with multiple organizations (such as local colleges) in recent years, under which people connected with the orgs are provided unlimited free rides. CDTA says boardings that are part of this program now make up 25 percent of all the systems rides.
CDTA ridership hit low point during the late 1990s and has been trending upward overall since then. After the jump there's a graph of the numbers from 1980 to now.
The Capital Region is a very wild place -- and not just on Lark Street around 2 am.
Many colorful and fascinating birds call this place home. And spring is a migratory season for birds, a time in which a lot of our noisy old friends rejoin us from the south. If you take a closer look you'll get to know quite a few avian residents.
A great place to start birding is Washington Park, right in the middle of the city of Albany...
Farther afield: Check out this video of a helicopter dropping water on the large wild fire in the Sam's Point Preserve in Ulster County earlier this week -- it was posted by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. The agency has also posted photos from the burned-out area. They're eerie.
By the way: That bucket suspended from the helicopters is called a "Bambi Bucket", and it was dropping 250 gallons, according to DEC's description.
Rain this week helped knock down the fire, and as of late Wednesday officials said it was 60 percent contained and they were focused on remaining spots that were still smoldering. The fire had burned roughly 1,900 acres (that's almost 3 square miles), according to DEC estimates. [Times Herald-Record]
The annual GameFest returns to RPI this weekend with a bunch of demos and talks about video games and their futures, along with an electronic music event. This year's theme is "Visions of the Virtual." The events are free and open to the public.
Here's some blurbage about the student-created games demo and competition at EMPAC that's part of the fest:
On Saturday, April 30, the GameFest expo, competition and symposium at EMPAC features over 50 student teams from colleges and universities across the Northeast, with a game design competition hosted by Vicarious Visions. Dive into virtual reality and fly a stunt kite, or become a narwhal making sandwiches at a deli counter. Play through a tale of love and loss using your own facial expressions, or explore an immersive environment of freshwater ecology. Check out the future of multiplayer gaming, haptic feedback devices, mobile games and more.
(Aren't we all narwhals making sandwiches at the deli counter of life?)
The schedule also includes Algorave 0x0F -- "an evening of cutting-edge electronic music, interactive visuals, and live-coding performances" -- Friday night at the Tech Valley Center of Gravity. And there will be keynotes and mini talks on Saturday. A condensed schedule is after the jump.
Schneiderman sues Rensselaer County DA over handling of fatal police-involved shooting, 2nd Troy bank robbery this week, Jackson reverses plan to hire RPI activities director
AG's office sues Troy DA
Eric Schneiderman's office is suing to take over the recent Troy case of a fatal police-involved shooting of a DWI suspect. The suit claims Rensselaer County DA Joel Abelove, rushed the case to a grand jury, in violation of Andrew Cuomo's executive order giving the New York attorney general broad powers to investigate and prosecute in deadly encounters between police officers and unarmed civilians. After hearing Abelove's case, the grand jury cleared Troy police Sgt. Randall French of any wrongdoing in the incident, which occurred five days earlier. In a statement on Wednesday, Schneiderman claimed "Abelove's actions not only violate the law but directly undermine the public's confidence in law enforcement." [Record][NYT][TU][Gazette]
Alleged sexual assault at Saint Rose
Police say they have video of two suspects leaving a building around the time of an alleged sexual assault at a College of Saint Rose dorm. [TU]
It seemed like the early warmth -- and then snapback cold -- blitzed a lot of the flower trees. So it was nice to take a moment and admire the the crabapple blossoms catching the late-day sun in Tricentennial Park Wednesday evening.
Over at Politico New York, Josefa Velasquez checks in on what's up with the state legislation that would allow services such as Uber and Lyft to start operating in Upstate New York -- and it sounds like there will be a big push, from both the companies and legislators, between now and June. [Politico NY] Earlier on AOA: A few more thoughts about the push for Uber and Lyft
The annual Bike to Work Day is May 20 -- which means you still have some time to organize your team for the Capital Region Bike to Work Challenge.
What is this challenge? Blurbage:
Trophies will be awarded in each county for the following categories. Winners will "own" the trophies until Bike to Work Day 2017.
+ Organization with the largest number of riders
+ Small organization with the highest percent participation (20 or fewer employees)
+ Organization over 20 employees with the highest percent participation
+ Person who rode the farthest.
The challenge is organized by the Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC), Capital Moves, and Bikeatoga. There's sign-up info at that link above.
Competition aside, this sort of event can be a good prompt to try cycling to work. For some people it's just not going to work because of distance or whatever. That said, we suspect it's a bit like riding the bus: If you don't do it often, it might seem impractical or a big hassle. But you might be surprised by how well it works out. You just have to give it a fair shot.
How many people bike to work?
Bike commuting in the Capital Region core ranges from .4 percent of adult commuters in Albany County to .1 percent in the other counties, according to the most recent Census Bureau estimates (2010-2014). That adds up to... not a lot of people -- something just under 1,000 people.
The percentages are bit higher for some of the places within the Capital Region, such as the cities of Albany and Saratoga Springs.
Here's a national list of the cities (population 100k+) with the highest percentage of bike commuters -- it includes cold-weather spots such as Cambridge (Massachusetts), Madison (Wisconsin), Ann Arbor, and Minneapolis. All of those places have rates about 4 percent. (It'd be interesting to learn more about the bike infrastructure in those places.)
The Schuyler Flatts Burial Project is working to honor and provide a burial for the remains of 14 people found in Menands, whom research indicates were slaves during the 18th and 19th century. From the project description:
In 2010, bioarchaeological analysis was completed by the NYS Museum. The analyses determined that the remains are about 200 years old and represent 6 women, 1 man, 2 children, and five infants. DNA analysis concluded that four of the individuals are of African descent. (West/East and Central Africa) Two sets of remains are descendants of women from Madagascar (off the coast of Southeast Africa). One individual, who may have been of mixed ancestry, was descendant from a Native American woman (possibly Micmac Tribe: Eastern Canada and the Northeastern corner of the United States). The burial ground was dated between the 1700s and early 1800s. Historical research indicates that the burial ground was part of a large estate owned by the colonial Schuyler family who owned a number of slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Schuyler Flatts Burial Ground Project Committee is in the process of planning and implementing a ceremony at St Agnes Cemetery located in Menands, NY on Saturday, June 18th 2016.
A handful of artists have been recruited to create burial containers for the remains. And this Saturday, April 30 at the State Museum there will be a public meeting and presentation about the work. It's at 1 pm in the museum's Huxley Auditorium. It's free.
Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: reaching people, the presidential primary, the Washington County Fiber Tour, wildflowers, Gore Mountain, getting into the game, red sauce joints, pierogi, Woodstock, a burger, a business expense, the universe, a poignant monument, a not-shoddy history, and a pep talk.
Via Chuck comes word that there's a documentary in the works about the old Albany Patroons professional basketball team. It's being produced by the Upside Collective, which is based here in Albany. Blurbage:
As the premiere franchise in the Continental Basketball Association from 1982 to 1992, the Albany Patroons left an indelible mark on the city of Albany, the CBA and the NBA. From elite coaches like Phil Jackson, Bill Mussleman and George Karl to standout players like Michael Ray Richardson, Mario Ellie, Tony Campbell, Sidney Lowe, Rick Carlisle and Scott Brooks, the Patroons' legacy continues to shape the world of professional basketball. We are working to bring you the untold story of the Patroons' quick rise, championship success and ultimate downfall. Beyond the franchise's ups and downs, the stories of the individuals involved, from fans, to executives to coaches and players are implausible, hilarious and inspiring.
The site linked above includes some clips of interviews with Phil Jackson, George Karl, Rick Carlisle, and others. The clip embedded above is from an interview with former player Derrick Rowland about coach Bill Musselman -- it's a funny story (and the editing in the clip is really good).
The documentary is scheduled to debut in 2017, according to the website. The producers of the doc are looking for old video, photos, memorabilia, and other stuff like that. Contact info is at the project website.
Former JCOPE director to join Cuomo administration, Albany County hearing on proposed tobacco law, Earth Day oil spill on the Hudson
Former JCOPE leader joins Cuomo administration
The Former Executive Director of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics has quietly taken a job as a deputy commissioner at the state Department of Taxation and Finance, where she will lead the criminal investigation services division. [TU+]
Hearing on Albany County tobacco law
At a public hearing on Tuesday night, Albany County legislators listened to members of the public comment on the pros and cons of a proposed law that would raise the age for purchasing tobacco products to 21. [News 10][TWCN][WNYT]
Sentencing in Schenectady drug murder
Carlson Nunes was sentenced to 22 years to life in the 2015 murder of Carlos Figueroa. [Gazette]
Two Albany historic sites have history-themed events this Sunday, May 1:
"Homegrown History: Albany's Gardening & Agricultural Past" at Historic Cherry Hill
Historic Cherry Hill is hosting the annual Albany History Fair this Sunday from noon-4 pm at the mansion grounds in the South End. The free event includes tours of the historic house, a scavenger hunt for families, music, exhibits, and vendors.
The theme this year is "Homegrown History: Albany's Gardening and Agricultural Past" and there will be presentations about Washington Park, the Shakers and their agricultural industries, and colonial gardens.
Living History Day at the Ten Broeck Mansion
The Albany County Historical Society has a living history day this Sunday from noon-4 pm at the Ten Broeck Mansion in Arbor Hill. The free event includes tours of the mansion, historical re-enactors, an archaeological excavation of the mansion grounds, demonstrations, pony rides, music, and vendors.
And you can always try searching for it: