Posted at: 05/06/2013 3:43 PM
Updated at: 05/06/2013 4:16 PM
By: Bill Lambdin
City officials determined that long-vacant houses between 56 and 68 Lexington Ave. were in imminent danger of collapse, jeopardizing the public. They ordered emergency demolition.
ALBANY - For years the seven houses on the east side between 56 and 68 Lexington Ave. had been left vacant and deteriorating.
"There were already plans put together for this site with ACAP to put a Head Start school here and a community gym so it gives us a chance to move forward to make this neighborhood a lot better that what it is," said the Albany Common Council member for the area Ron Bailey.
Bailey and barbershop owner Robert Brown are thrilled the buildings are being torn down.
"So when you've got these abandoned buildings like that what happens is, you've got squatters, you've got people coming in using drugs," said Brown.
But Historic Albany Foundation, which is headquartered nearby, is not happy. Executive Director Susan Holland questions the need for emergency action, circumventing normal community consideration and approval.
"They were definitely not emergencies," Holland said. "There were some buildings that were distressed but this is not what I would qualify as an emergency."
But the city commissioner who made the call on emergency demolition defends his action.
"So if there's an imminent threat of collapse of the building, it means there's a danger to the public," said Jeffrey Jamison. "So if there's a danger to the public we need to abate it right away."
Holland disagreed with the safety claims.
"Inside, they all have their back walls. They have their roofs. There was one that you could see a little bit of daylight, but I've seen way worse," she said. "I know that they've been aiming to get some of these down and it's a clear cut case of we want these down for I don't know what reason."
Commissioner Jamison told NewsChannel 13 he was not aware of any redevelopment plans for the now cleared lots on Lexington Avenue, despite what Bailey had told us.