AMSTERDAM - One local city will have one of the state's first land banks in an attempt to develop unsed property within its borders.
The city of Amsterdam joined with Schenectady County and the city of Schenectady to create a land bank for their respective municipalities. It was one of five approved by the Board of Directors for the Empire State Development Corp. at its May 17 meeting.
The land bank program was established with the enactment of Article 16 of the New York State Not-for-Profit Corporation Law in July 2011. The act permits the local communities to fight the problem of vacant and abandoned properties to create a not-for-profit organization that will be used to return the vacant, abandoned or tax-delinquent land to productive use.
The former site of the Edy Brush Co. in Amsterdam sits vacant Thursday after being destroyed in a fire in 2010. Before the fire, the city took ownership through foreclosure, and it could be one of the sites used in the new land bank the city, Schenectady and Schenectady County recently created. The purpose of the land bank is to return vacant city-owned properties to “productive use,” according to the Empire State Development Corp.
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"This partnership bodes well for our constituents and marks a new beginning of progress for this region," Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane said in a news release. "Thanks to the city of Schenectady's Department of Development for the tremendous vision and effort put into launching this initiative."
According to Thane, planning for the land bank was initiated by the city of Schenectady and Schenectady County, which then asked Amsterdam to join to improve the strength of the application.
The Common Council approved the city's agreement at its March 20 meeting.
According to the Empire State Development Corp., key factors in the approval of the application were intergovernmental cooperation agreements that show collaborative efforts among the partner municipalities in implementing, staffing and supporting the land banks.
"The Land Bank program empowers local entities to transform urban blight into a source of economic development that will strengthen communities across New York," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release.
Ten land banks were permitted to be created. The application put forth by Amsterdam and Schenectady, were among the first five to be approved by the ESD. The other four were the cities of Buffalo, Lackawanna, Tonawanda and Erie County; Syracuse and Onondaga County, Chautagua County, and the city of Newburgh, located in Orange County.
"These applicants made a strong case that the land bank will be successful in their communities, and we fully expect them to make a difference," ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said.
Suffolk County and Broome County were not approved because they were unable to acquire properties due to environmental contamination, according to information provided by ESD.
The ESD plans to approve a second round of applications to create land banks.
Mike Zummo is the business editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org