Buckingham Lake Neighborhood Association
Buckingham Lake Neighborhood Association

News-Buckingham Lake Neighborhood Association

Proposed Middle School at 50 North Lark

Dear BLNA Members,

On Jan. 10, Albany voters will consider a proposal to convert an existing school district building into a middle school beginning next school year.

To learn more about the proposal and the district’s long‐term facilities and enrollment planning please attend one or more of the following community events:

50 North Lark building tours

Tuesday, Nov. 15 – 6-7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 10 – 10-11:30 a.m.
Community forums

Tuesday, Nov. 29 – 6:30-7:30 p.m., 50 North Lark
Wednesday, Dec. 7 – 6:30 p.m., Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations meeting, Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Ave.
Wednesday, Dec. 14 – 5-6 p.m., Schuyler Achievement Academy, 676 Clinton Ave
Monday, Dec. 19 – 7-8 p.m., Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School, 100 Elbel Court off Whitehall Road
The Albany Public Schools 50 North Lark Flyer can be viewed and downloaded by clicking the link below:


As always please spread the word about BLNA to your friends and neighbors, encourage them to join and come to the next meeting.

Best regards,


Candidate Requests to Address Membership

Several weeks ago the Buckingham Lake Neighborhood Association received a request to address its membership from Albany City Court Judge Candidate Joshua Farrell. This request was approved by the BLNA Board of Directors and Mr. Farrell addressed the group at the September 8th meeting. It was pointed out to us that because only one candidate addressed the group it looked like a political endorsement. In hindsight, we realize that an invitation to the other candidate, Mr. Jim Long, should have been made even though he did not request to speak.

Please be assured that BLNA did not nor will it ever endorse a political candidate and we regret the appearance.

A part of the purpose of this organization is to encourage the free exchange of information in a non-partisan way. We believe in the value of providing a forum for BLNA members and Albany City or County political candidates.


In order to achieve this, we have decided that going forward a blanket invitation to address the membership will be issued to all candidates.


Churchill: Evict Homeless? Albany Neighborhood Says No

Chris Churchill published the following article at 8:07 pm, May 16, 2016, Times Union

Members of the newly formed Buckingham Lake Neighborhood Association with President Sleasman.

Representatives from Family Promise and the Bethany Reformed Church, working together to help the homeless.

It is time to restore the good name of the neighborhood around Buckingham Pond.

Don't misunderstand. The Albany neighborhood is a great one, and its centerpiece body of water is one of the city's hidden gems.


But as I've noted in two prior columns, the Buckingham Pond-Crestwood Neighborhood Association has been waging a deplorable campaign to evict a homeless-services program from a nearby church — an effort that should stain the neighborhood's reputation if it reflects a resident consensus.


It doesn't.


See, the neighborhood association largely represents the voice of just one man: longtime resident Joe Sullivan. He's been operating in the neighborhood's name but without its input.

Enter the newly formed Buckingham Lake Neighborhood Association.


At its inaugural meeting last month, attended by about 100 people, organizers asked for a vote on Family Promise, the homeless-services program operating out of Bethany Reformed Church on New Scotland Avenue.


"About 98 percent raised their hands in support," said Dan Sleasman, the group's president.

Embarrassment over Sullivan's Family Promise fight wasn't the only reason for the new association's creation, Sleasman said, but it surely helped galvanize turnout and enthusiasm. Many in the neighborhood have long felt Sullivan was misrepresenting them.

"He does what he feels is right," Sleasman said. "But he doesn't get feedback from people in the neighborhood, so there really was a need to do something new."


Family Promise is an organization, run mostly by volunteers, that gets homeless families off the street and into permanent homes.


The program's small number of participating families sleep at night in churches and synagogues, including ones in Bethlehem, Guilderland, Schenectady and elsewhere in Albany, while the parsonage at Bethany is used as a day center where they get mail, do laundry and access the internet.


The program receives no taxpayer money. The overwhelming number of people it helps are young children. Families typically graduate from the program within months, proving that it really is an example of effective community-based charity.


Who would object?


Why Sullivan, of course.


The activist has described the program as a threat to the sanctity of the middle-class neighborhood. When I spoke to him on Monday, he mentioned a supposed recent increase in litter and unkempt lawns.


Family Promise is responsible for that?


"It's not only Family Promise, but it is a part of it," Sullivan said, claiming that the organization is making the downtown homeless population aware of the neighborhood and its relative safety.


I've heard Sullivan say similar things before, so I wasn't as incredulous as I might have been.


But it's nonsense. The homeless were perfectly able to find Buckingham Pond and its surroundings long before Family Promise came on the scene.


And it's worth mentioning once more that the program helps families — single moms and children, mostly — who have passed rigorous review and just need a helping hand finding work and housing.


These are not the "drifters" that Sullivan says he's increasingly seeing in the neighborhood.

Nevertheless, Sullivan successfully sued to overturn a Board of Zoning Appeals ruling that allowed Family Promise to operate at Bethany.


That the suit succeeded was a shocker because churches are usually given leeway to use their buildings as they please. That reflects the importance of letting religious institutions operate outside of government interference, and it has allowed churches, synagogues and mosques to host a broad array of activities.


But acting state Supreme Court Justice Gerald Connolly essentially ruled that the Bethany parsonage doesn't count as a church and that Family Promise couldn't operate there under residential zoning rules.


The city has appealed — and did so with moral support from the new neighborhood group, which last month sent a letter to Family Promise noting its "support of the good work your organization is doing."


Sleasman stressed that the Buckingham Lake Neighborhood Association is not trying to suppress Sullivan's right to speak on topics he considers important. At issue is whether he should have the authority that comes with speaking for a neighborhood.


Sullivan, in turn, dismissed the new association as a politically connected organization created solely to back the progressive agenda of Mayor Kathy Sheehan. Sullivan, who has run as a Conservative Party candidate for mayor, formed his group in 1987.


I did, however, find at least one quality-of-life issue on which Sullivan's association joins with its new competitor. Both believe more must be done to prevent speeding cars from menacing pedestrians on city streets.


Yes, walking in Albany is too dangerous. On that, everybody can agree.



Letter to Family Promise from the BLNA

Following the BLNA meeting of 4/10/16, the link below contains the letter written to Family Promise by the BLNA Board of Directors.

Letter to Family Promise.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [130.1 KB]

For Albany's Buckingham Lake, a New Neighborhood Association                                         By Jordan Carleo-Evangelist March 24, 2016

Board president Daniel Sleasman, center with his terrier Finn, members of the new Buckingham Lake Neighborhood Association and APD's community police team 3 pose for a photo at Buckingham Lake Park Saturday March 19, 2016 in Albany, NY. (John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union)


Like so many stories of neighborhood activism, this one begins with a stop sign — actually, the lack of one.

After Daniel Sleasman's repeated calls to the city for help to slow the rush of traffic on Buckingham Drive went nowhere, his neighborhood police officer, James Brooks, recommended that Sleasman and his neighbors draft a petition.

That 2014 petition got the attention of City Hall, won the group a stop sign and was the germ of the new Buckingham Lake Neighborhood Association, which aims to ensure residents' voices are heard on issues like crime, traffic and code enforcement.


The group, which will meet for the first time April 10, is unaffiliated with the 30-year-old Buckingham Pond/Crestwood Neighborhood Association that covers much of the same territory but is largely the domain of one man, its founder and only officer, Joseph Sullivan.

Sleasman, who has lived in the Buckingham Lake area for a decade, said the association isn't a challenge to Sullivan, long one of the city's most colorful political figures and a frequent candidate for office.

But it is, Sleasman said, a recognition that the neighborhood of mostly one-family homes between Western and New Scotland avenues needs active representation that Sullivan's group, which holds no regular meetings and has no membership rolls, isn't providing.

More Information


Getting together

The first meeting of the new Buckingham Lake Neighborhood Association will be 4 p.m. on April 10 at Bethany Reformed Church, 760 New Scotland Ave.

For more information, visit:http://www.blnaofalbany.org



"We're very excited about bringing neighbors and residents together to talk about issues," Sleasman said. "Nobody wants to stop Joe from doing what he's doing, but we do need a functioning neighborhood association."

Another goal, Sleasman said, is to link Buckingham Lake with the Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations, a federation of groups that meets monthly and hosts civic leaders to discuss city issues.

"To me, that's one of the key functions of the new neighborhood association — to open the lines of communication in both ways," he said.

The association's borders are Western Avenue to the north, New Scotland Avenue to the south, South Manning Boulevard to the east and Route 85 to the west — an area Sleasman said has about 2,000 residents.

Among the steering committee members are Rachel McEneny, who recently joined Mayor Kathy Sheehan's administration as budget director, and Albany Public Library Director Scott Jarzombek, who will also serve as treasurer.

Though they plan to coordinate their efforts, the new group is separate from the Buckingham Pond Conservancy, founded seven years ago specifically to be a steward of the city park that gives the neighborhood its name.

The gulf between Sullivan and some of his neighbors was highlighted by last year's zoning battle over plans by Family Promise of the Capital Region to open an assistance center for homeless families in the former parsonage of Bethany Reformed Church on New Scotland Avenue.

Sullivan railed against the project on his neighborhood association blog and successfully sued pro se to block it — a court ruling the city is appealing. But neighbors supportive of Family Promise bristled at the notion that Sullivan was speaking on behalf of all of them.

"His position does not actually represent the way most of the people who live in this neighborhood feel," Sleasman said. "That's a perfect example of why what's currently happening doesn't work."

Sullivan's organization, also originally called the Buckingham Lake Neighborhood Association, formed in 1987 to fight a housing development at New Scotland Avenue and Krumkill Road and waged numerous land-use battles over the following years.

In the 1990s, Sullivan led the fight against a plan to sell off 60 acres of the nearby city-owned Capital Hills Golf Course for luxury housing as well as efforts to commercially develop the former Boopsie's garage at Whitehall Road and New Scotland Avenue, which eventually became condominiums. In 2000, he and others beat back plans for a drive-thru CVS along New Scotland Avenue.

At one point in 1993, Sullivan boasted that Buckingham Lake was home to the city's largest neighborhood watch. Sullivan never affiliated with CANA — a group he said was always more preoccupied with the issues facing downtown neighborhoods — and critics have alleged his is now a paper organization with effectively only one member.

Sullivan, who still patrols the neighborhood daily with his Australian shepherds, Mick and Paddy, views the new group as a political power play by the mayor and "an off-shoot of my opposing the Family Promise situation."

He said Buckingham Lake is a pleasant place to live because of the work he and others did to fend off intense development pressure.

"They haven't been there for the big battles," Sullivan said, allowing that his group has struggled to recruit young blood. With no formal dues system, Sullivan said, he considers all residents of the neighborhood de facto members.

"More power to these people if they can really do something positive," he said. "It's no big deal. We'll just continue to coexist, and they'll have big shoes to try to fill."

jcarleo-evangelist@timesunion.com • 518-454-5445 • @JCEvangelist_TU

    We Are BLNA

We are a local community organization serving the Buckingham Lake Neighborhood area in the City of Albany, New York.  We welcome your input and support.


Please contact us for more information, and to get involved with us!


Buckingham Lake Neighborhood Association

31 Buckingham Drive

Albany, NY 12208

Email: info@blnaofalbany.org

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