Walkable Albany's Candidate Scores are now available! Below is the candidate from the 9th Ward who responded to our questionnaire, Meghan Keegan. The questionnaires contained a variety of issues, in several categories:
Below we will share the candidate's scores in each category and overall, along with answers to longer-form questions. This page shows the candidates for the 9th Ward Common Council seat; other offices are listed on separate pages. Here are the overall scores for the 9th Ward:
Meghan Keegan: 87.75 (A rating)
Below are the detailed responses.
While it would likely be unpopular for some residents, I am particularly interested in the program launched in Rochester, NY which was financed through an embellishment fee (roughly $35 per year) for the City to step in to clear sidewalks whenever there is greater than 4 inches of snow. Albany would need to develop the funds to purchase equipment and staff such a venture. However, with new rules and regulations coming down at the Federal level specifically focusing on those with mobility impairments, I believe the days are gone when the City can place the burden of sidewalk and crosswalk clearing on businesses and residents while promising to improve enforcement. The manpower required to truly assess whether homeowners and businesses have sufficiently cleared for wheelchair access makes the argument for such a program being fiscally unfeasible moot. My current assessment of the fee structures that other local governments have enacted in order to ensure sidewalks are included in plowing and street clearing shows these fees to be substantially less than what a business or homeowner would spend to have their walkways cleared at a seasonal rate. Such a program would also benefit our naturally existing retirement communities, of which the 9th Ward is included, by reducing the cost burden for seniors who are medically unable to do their own clearing and therefore need to hire outside assistance.
I support the study particularly due to its focus on increasing pedestrian safety through that corridor. One element of the design project that I feel should be incorporated into all new sidewalk/paving projects throughout the City, particularly for higher traffic roadways, are the curb bump outs at the intersections. The addition of sidewalk space to improve outdoor dining access while ensuring adequate and accessible walkways for pedestrians is also something that should be the standard for projects across the City. The business district along the New Scotland corridor recently had a similar project completed and it has been a boon to both the businesses within and the walkability of our neighborhood. I hope the City obtains the necessary funding to complete the project.
My one criticism of this project is the complete disregard of the predominantly black and brown people who actually live near this major transit connector. The assessment that the route is little used is really an assessment of how people are commuting into the City and not the residents of the City itself. Despite this criticism I believe the project is a step in the right direction of creating additional walkable amenities to the City's growing theater and entertainment district that will hopefully attract population growth along the Broadway and South Pearl corridors. I would have preferred that the City's efforts focused more on restoring the Livingston Avenue Bridge to include pedestrian and cyclist access between Albany and Rensselaer counties.
Despite this being a contentious issue for the 9th Ward as there are many residents opposed to the project slated for development along New Scotland Avenue, I fully support new and infill development projects across the City particularly those that qualify for commercial property tax designation. Not every project should be approved. Projects that will displace low income renters without providing access to or replacing affordable housing are of significant concern to me. Thus far the City has made efforts to balance development between market rate, median, and low income units. On the whole however, I believe that new development is key to Albany's fiscal future. Albany will be able to access additional state and federal review particularly with regard to infrastructure dollars if we can achieve the 100,000 population mark. Commercial tax rates are also higher than residential tax rates. The majority of these projects, regardless of tax abatements, have resulted in increased revenue generation for the City. I believe that development is key to flattening and/or reducing the residential tax burden and will make Albany a more affordable place to live.
While code enforcement is pivotal to this issue we also need action from state government in order to ensure the City is able to hold landlords, particularly those who do not live in the region/state, accountable for code infractions. I also believe the state needs to take broad action to establish a vacancy tax on properties left neglected or vacant for a period of time with no attempt to use or develop the parcel. If elected, I will support efforts for the City to ensure all properties have occupancy certificates, work to provide adequate resources to Building and Codes as well as the Department of General Services to enforce City code, and stand with City administration and other local governments to push for the state to enact legislation that will provide local governments with greater enforcement opportunities.
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