Posted by: David Giacalone | May 25, 2017

pump house blues? don’t throw in the towel

 Fighting City Hall, or simply having an informative discussion with it, has frustrated citizens for as long as there have been citizens and city halls. But, some issues are worth the fight and the frustrations. That is especially true when there appear to be thoughtful elected and appointed leaders who seem open to meaningful discourse.

On a gray and rainy Thursday afternoon, I took a colorful Protest Blanket — or OpEd Towel — down my block to the west end of Riverside Park for a photo shoot. The results can be seen in the following slideshow. This wet blanket speaks for itself.  And, it is way too soon to throw in the towel, which I hope to be using as a blanket on the West Lawn for years to come.

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Posted by: David Giacalone | May 16, 2017

send City Hall a message on the New Pump Station

updates (May 21, 2017): “Messenger Slideshow “shows Days 1-4.

(May 22, 2017) Message Sent to Mayor & City Council. Click for pdf. version of email, which included as attachments the three collages found below.

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NIOPSendAMessageDay1 . . click [L] Day 1 Collage;

  SAMDay2e . . SAMDay3-4e 

above: [L]. . Day 2 Collage … [R] Days 3 & 4 Collage. .

Noah-Messenger1 . . [Noon, Wed.] here’s Noah, my first Not In Our Park “Messenger”. .

Please let the folks in Schenectady’s City Hall know if you agree with our message that there should be No New Pump Station in Riverside Park — instead, retrofit or upgrade the Old Pump Station on its own parcel, or put a new sewage pump station elsewhere, outside our Park.

Below are names and email addresses for City Council Members, and the Mayor, and two Gazette journalists who may be sympathetic to our outcry — especially due to the lack of transparency and neighborhood input.

 Note that Council President Leesa Perazzo sets the Council’s agenda and priorities; and that resolutions relating to a New Pump Station to replace or update the Old Pump House have been handled to date by the Public Services & Utilities Committee. However, unanswered questions about funding the grandiose new pump station project, with its additional $10 million bill for new piping, suggest that the Finance Committee should have many questions and concerns. And, of course, the Recreation & Parks Committee should be interested in preserving parkland. Vince Riggi (Ind.) heads the Claims committee, which probably is not relevant to our campaign, but please do not forget that Council member Riggi was the only vote against building a new pump station when the Council voted out a resolution to that effect in September 2014, and Vince would like to know your opinion.

NIOPsceneF You could download and send one of the “photo OpEds” to Save Our Park we posted on May 10th, along with words of your own. Or, take a photo with Our Sign [immediately below] or one of your own on the West Lawn of Riverside Park.

  • the first Selfie-Pumpie photo session will be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, May 15-17, from 6 to 7 PM, on the West Lawn of Riverside Park. Look at this space to see if additional dates are added.
  • RALLY – June 24. A Rally to support the Not In Our Park campaign will be held on Saturday, June 24, at 11 AM, at Arthur’s Market, 35 N. Ferry Street. Who knows, by then it might be a Victory Party.
  • Share this posting with the short URL:
  • Thanks for your words and actions in support of Saving Our Park from a new pump station.

SEND CITY HALL YOUR MESSAGE – words, images, etc.


President, Leesa Perazzo –


Public Service & Utilities 

Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas – Chair –

Marion Porterfield –

Vincent Riggi –

Health & Recreation 

Marion Porterfield – Chair

John Mootooveren –

Vincent Riggi


Leesa Perazzo – Chair –

John Mootooveren

Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas

Administrative Efficiency 

John Polimeni – Chair –

City Development & Planning 

Ed Kosiur – Chair –

John Mootooveren

Public Safety                            Intergovernmental Relations 

John Mootooveren – Chair        Ed Kosiur – Chair

Mayor Gary McCarthy –

State Legislature

110th Assemblyman Phil Steck –

111th- Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara – 

49th – State Senate – Jim Tedisco –

Schenectady Gazette 

Editorial Page Editor – Mark Mahoney –

Columnist – Sara Foss –

Posted by: David Giacalone | May 14, 2017

views from and of Riverside Park west

Since starting my photography hobby about 9 years ago, some of my favorite photos have been taken while standing on the west side of Riverside Park. Ice floes, autumn trees, sunsets, rowers and runners, dog-walkers, and much more have come into view, often with results I enjoy sharing. As we work to preserve the beauty and tranquility of the west end of Riverside Park, I’d like to show you some of those photos in a slideshow I hope we can get the Schenectady City Council to click through some day soon.

. . after the Slideshow, read about Saving the West Lawn . .

. . share this posting with this short URL:

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Posted by: David Giacalone | May 10, 2017

photo OpEds for saving our Park

Please show your Support for Preserving Riverside Park, and protecting the beauty and tranquility of its West Lawn, by displaying and/or distributing one of our photo OpEd images, which are seen below. Each is formatted to be printed as a 4″ by 6″ photo. You may use them for any non-commercial purpose.

. . NOT IN OUR PARK! . . 



  • Consider making prints for distribution at your church, club, office, or City Council meetings, etc. You can make photo prints for as little as 10¢ or 13¢ each, when purchasing 50 or 100 of them from places like CVS photos online (ready an hour later at the store of your choice), and in-store at Rite Aid, using an online coupon.
  • I’m leaving a few dozen at Arthur’s Market to help spread our cause (by the evening of May 10).
  • Easy-to-remember URL or info, photos, links:

To read why we oppose the placement of a pump station in Riverside Park, see the posting strong, thoughtful opposition to Pump Station in the Park.

For photos of the priceless West Lawn, and the views that will be lost from and of it, please go to “the at-risk West Lawn of Riverside Park“.

 Please phone or email our elected leaders at City Hall, and the State Legislature, and send Letters to newspapers and other media outlets. THANK YOU!!

BTW, do you remember the Memorial Day Picnics on the West Lawn?

or, the 2016 Stockade Association Picnic on the West Lawn?

. . click on a collage for a larger version! . .


. . thank you, Laura Harrison, for suggesting “moons along the Mohawk”! . 

 . . passenger exiting

Loud noises with bright colors and lights usually happen on the Mohawk River end of Cucumber Alley, especially with the Jumpin’ Jack’s fireworks before the 4th of July. However, the sounds and lights were at the Washington Avenue end of Cucumber Alley at about 1:15 AM, early Sunday morning (May 7, 2017). I happened to be at my computer a few feet from the window that directly overlooks that corner, when I heard sirens and saw bright, flashing lights coming up Front Street out my bay window, and then heard a large crash just under my corner winder. I grabbed my camera (but didn’t have time to wash a couple decades of dirt from the outside of my 2nd floor apartment window), and got the images you can see throughout this post and the Slideshow below.

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 6.49.38 PM Of course, snapping photos did not get me the scoop on what had happened. And, officers with guns drawn and excessive use of expletives did not seem to be encouraging inquiries from curious neighbors. The Gazette now has the story online as of Monday afternoon, and did me the honor of using a photo I took during the arrests. See “Police: Car chase starts in Glenville, ends in Stockade(Brett Samuels, May 7, 2017) According to Glenville Police Chief Steve Janik:

“The car traveled down Freemans Bridge Road, across the river and into Schenectady, where it turned in to the Rivers Casino entrance, wove through the parking lot and ended up going down Front Street into the Stockade, Janik said. It sped through multiple stop signs and intersections before striking a street sign at the corner of Washington Avenue and Cucumber Alley”

. . above: initial approach of officers to the stopped vehicle . .

“Schenectady police arrived to assist, and, in photos taken by a resident [the editor of this weblog, David Giacalone] who lives near the site of the crash, officers can be seen approaching the vehicle with guns drawn. The driver exited with her pants dropped.

 . . driver exits with dropped pants

“’At the conclusion of a pursuit, it is not uncommon for officers to be at full guard because of the stakes involved, not knowing whether the person is armed or has committed a serious crime,’ Janik said.

“Officers were able to reach the vehicle’s owner and learned the car was stolen from her driveway in Saratoga County, Janik said.”

The Gazette goes on to state that police arrested Stacey Lincoln Dressel, 36, from Greenfield Center, charging her with 14 violations and misdemeanors, including reckless driving, fleeing a police officer, criminal possession of a controlled substance and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. “The passenger, Philip M. Girard, 28, also of Greenfield Center, was also arrested and charged with possession of stolen property.”

 Ms. Dressel, the woman with her pants dropped in the photo above, came out the passenger side of the rear seats, so the officers and I did not realize at first that she had been the driver.  So, in the photo to the left, you can see them approaching the driver’s door demanding the at driver exit the vehicle, after Ms. Dressel was already arrested.

smallquestionmark Why Were Her Pants Dropped and Why Did Ms. Dressel Exit from the Rear Passenger Door? I can only speculate. The driver’s door was partially open, but may have been jammed due to damage from the collision. With a larger person in the front passenger seat, getting out through the rear seat makes sense. Or, perhaps, Ms. Dressel did not want to appear to be the driver. My women friends are amazed that Ms. Dressel could have been driving with her pants off or down to her ankles. Maybe there was a reason she did not want to have the pants on when confronted by the police officers, but their insistence that she hurry got her out the door before the pants were fully off.

MapleAv-CucAlleyMap update: The Times Union covered the story in their Tuesday edition, repeating the incorrect information about the vehicle striking a street sign. “Pursuit ends with crash in Schenectady” (by Amanda Fries, online May 9, 2017) It also calls it a “½-mile pursuit”, when in fact the very closest point of Maple Avenue in Glenville, where it meets Freeman’s Bridge Road, is at least two miles from the corner of Cucumber Alley and Washington Avenue. (see Google Map, and image to left) The TU article did further explain the felony possession of stolen property charge: “the vehicle Dressel was driving was not her own and the owner hadn’t given either Dressel or Girard permission to use the car.” Neighbors at the scene tell me they heard a police officer mention that the vehicle belonged to Ms. Dressel’s mother.

CarCrashTree What Did They Hit? (updated, Tuesday evening, May 9 & Wed. am May 10, 2017): Despite the report by the Glenville police, there is no way the chased vehicle hit the street sign at Washington Avenue, which is straight and unblemished, and too flimsy to withstand such a collision. Both myself and my downstairs neighbor were certain, just minutes after the crash, that we had seen the SUV hit the corner hydrant from our respective corner windows (which we were attracted to by the sound of the approaching sirens and the bright lights coming up Front Street). And, we both marveled at the time that the hydrant was still standing tall, with no sign of a collision (as you can see from the photo to the right, taken after daylight Sunday morning). However, in the morning light, I also noticed that there is a large scar at the base of the tree nearest the corner, with a large chunk of bark skinned off.  My next hypothesis, that perhaps the vehicle careened off the hydrant into the tree, seems unlikely due to their placement. So, the evidence seems to say that the chased Honda CRX lost control coming onto Washington Avenue and hit the tree in front of 18 Washington Avenue. It is very rare for there to be no vehicle parked in that spot at night, so the tree was especially useful stopping a crash into the building at what is know as Caine Row.

. . here is a collage of photos “at the end of the chase”  (click on it to enlarge) . . 


  •  danger Safe Chase? The more I consider it, the more certain I am that conditions were not suitable for a car chase, which should have been called off quickly after it started: Roads were rain-slick; it was dark with glare caused by the headlights and light-bars; drivers on the road were more likely than usual to have been drinking, since it was late on a Saturday night; and the fugitive vehicle was moving at a high speed even before the Glenville police gave chase. Moreover, it turned into Mohawk Harbor, which was likely to have Casino customers in the parking area. Finally, the chase went down Front Street, which is too narrow in daylight for easy two-way traffic, and is lined with some of the City’s highest density residential blocks, as it switches between two-way and one-way blocks and passes through a small traffic circle. The final block of the chase then went the wrong way down a one-way stretch of Front Street, which ended at a blind corner, where the SUV was not able to handle the turn. The space along the curb where the chase ended is virtually never empty at night, and that was one piece of good luck for all, including the police officers — who were overexcited and repeatedly yelling the f-word by the end of the chase — and who need to justify their questionable chase.


  • I can’t say there is never a dull moment in the Stockade, but my delayed bedtime Saturday night suggests we do at times have some excitement on the “city” end of Cucumber Alley.

PumpStationRendering1. . March 1 proposal for the West Lawn of Riverside Park.

  . . West Lawn (April 23, 2017)

 Yesterday evening (May 2nd), concerned members of the Stockade community demonstrated clearly that they stand opposed to putting a new pumping station in Riverside Park, with thoughtful and heartfelt reasons for defending their beloved Park and Stockade neighborhood. The article in today’s Gazette by Brett Samuels, was an improvement over the subtly dismissive tone of Tuesday’s article, but missed a lot of important points, that I hope to cover in this posting.

Cast of Characters with “official” Roles: Suzy Unger, SA Board member and Recording Secretary, was the emcee. The panel consisted of Mark Miller, the lead engineer on the project from CHA Consulting [Clough Harbour Associates, “CHA”]; Brad Fisher, who lives at 27 Front Street, a directly affected property; Larry Schmidt of 11 Front Street; and Fred Heitkamp, who has lived on North Street since 1969.

Paul LaFond, Schenectady’s Commissioner of General Services briefly spoke. Carol DeLaMater, SA President and Bob Stern, SA Corresponding Secretary, also contributed. Larry, Fred, Carol and Bob were the “community members” who were invited by the City and CHA to be on the so-called Community Advisory Committee that attended the private “workshop” sessions about the Project. Gloria Kishton, Stockade Spy co-editor this past year, and President of the Schenectady County Heritage Foundation, tended a flip-chart where she recorded comments.

Vince Riggi, Independent member of the City Council, was the only Council member present.

From my perspective, here are the main points brought out in the meeting; my impressions or asides are in brackets:

Read More…

Posted by: David Giacalone | April 29, 2017

tulips and blossoms: “better than sewage”

.  . For coverage of the Pump Station in the Park Controversy, see “the at-risk West Lawn of Riverside Park” (below), and “Not In Our Park!“, at “snowmen at the gates” . .

 One of my favorite Stockade Grande Dames reminded me this afternoon that tulips were “better than sewage” as a focus of attention. Now that the neighborhood has a nice complement of tulips and other blossoms along its streets, I finally have enough flowery images to share here at suns along the Mohawk, despite the (almost total*) failure of this year’s cherry blossom crop. I think they’re a lot better than sewage, and I hope you agree, after checking out our Slideshow.

*  Below: rare, hardy Stockade 2017 cherry blossoms. [L] 31 Front St; [Middle & R] 1 Union St. A bonus photo by Bob Stern is at the foot of this posting.

    . . .   . . . 

To see a larger version of a Slideshow Image, pause the Slideshow on the image; right-click; choose Open Image in Separate Tab.

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. . don’t forget: enjoy our blossoms, and love our trees! .. 

To reminisce about Cherry Blossoms in the Stockade, see:

 CB-BStern2017Bonus [at L]: Here’s a photo by Bob Stern of cherry blossoms along the parking lot of the Front Street Swimming Pool. Thanks, Bob.

Posted by: David Giacalone | April 23, 2017

the at-risk west lawn of Riverside Park (with updates)

DSCF2858 update (Wed., 9 AM, May 3, 2017): Last night’s informational meeting on the Pumping Station at St. George’s demonstrated a strong, thoughtful and neighborly opposition. Today’s article in the Gazette by Brett Samuels left out some key points. For a detailed summary of the meeting, see our post strong, thoughtful opposition to pump station in the park” (May 3, 2017).

. . to share this posting, use the short URL:

NIOPsignF . . click for 3 printable “photo OpEds” to Save Our Park.

. . . Original Posting (with updates and links) . . 

Have we been taking the quiet beauty of the great West Lawn of Riverside Park for granted? I’ve recently heard it said that “no one uses that part of the Park” — the section between the old Pump House and Governor’s Lane. The statement was apparently being used to justify usurping most of the space, viewshed, and charm of the West Lawn for a giant new sewage pump station, modern and industrial in style, that would spread from near the old pump house to Governor’s Lane, as seen in the following rendering, which  comes from a 25-page Presentation to the Stockade Association Board of a proposed North Ferry Pump Station Project, given on March 1, 2017, by architect Frank Gilmore and CHA’s lead engineer Mike Miller:

. . click on rendering for larger image; full Presentation (pdf) . .

. . the SA Board and Officers never informed Members or residents of the Stockade of the size and location of the proposed Pumping Station until the last day of April, in the May Stockade Spy.

Not used? Not appreciated and valued?

To the contrary, we stroll by the West Lawn of Riverside Park on the Park’s one footpath when entering or leaving the Park from Washington Avenue or Governor’s Lane, and enjoy both its calmness when unoccupied and its activity when in use. We play bocce and frisbee on it, and run with our dogs and children. We sit on its benches to read, watch sunsets and crew sculls, tugboats and party boats on the Mohawk, and also heron on the Isle of the Cayugas or Scotia shore. We have picnics there, or quiet dates on a blanket. We occasionally see wedding parties and fashion models being photographed in front of Governor Yates’ brick wall, and the unique ornamental wall at the foot of what is now St. George’s parsonage.  We also very much enjoy a rare view of Stockade “backyards” — long, rolling or terraced yards of homes along Front Street.

. . above: view on Sunday, April 23, 2017 . .

 . . . .

. . .  

. . above: two renderings of the proposed pump station . .



I hope there will soon be a full, objective discussion of the Proposed Plan and alternatives to it (e.g. reuse the old pump house and its present lot, or a different location outside of the Park, perhaps out of the floodplain), and I hope it will be led by an energized and responsible Stockade Association. To the right is a thumbnail image of a collage with salient portions of the March 1, 2017 presentation; click on it for a larger version, and feel free to download it or the Project pdf. file for distribution.

red check. . for discussion of reasons to oppose a Pump Station project in Riverside Park, beyond the beauty-tranquilty-heritage-etc. displayed in this posting, and to decry the failure of the Stockade Association to inform its members and protect the Historic District and the Park, please see “Not In Our Park!“, at the website “snowmen at the gates” . .

This slide show has photos of the West Lawn, with views of it and from it, as well as people enjoying it.


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. . share this post with the short URL:



. . a view from Scotia of the west end of Riverside Park (17Oct2013) . . 


SAPumpHouseLetter Note: Despite it Constitution and By-Laws, which commit the Stockade Association to protecting and preserving the residential nature of the Stockade district and to improve Riverside Park, the Stockade Association Board never notified the Association members or the neighborhood for two months after the March 1 presentation to them of the Project design. Moreover, in 2014, the Stockade Association president never put on the agenda or gave information to the Association and neighborhood about, the resolution before the City Council to place the Pumping Station in the Park rather than elsewhere, and rather than retrofitting the Old Pump House. When a motion by an SA member passed at the May 2014 general meeting, asking that a letter be sent to the Mayor concerning the Old Pump House and attempting to reuse it if technically feasible, the dismissive, minimalist, undated, informal note to the Right was sent to the Mayor and City Council. The matter was never again mentioned in the Stockade Spy or on the SA website in 2014.

 . . . 

above: [L] Loraine and Devin make his first snowman just outside the fence of 29 1/2 Front Street, in 2009; [R] Devin’s snowman is a lone sentinel outside the fence of 29 1/2 Front Street, echoing the famous, feckless snowmen at the gates of the Stockade the night of the 1690 Massacre.

dangersign Riverside Park is again under attack and at-risk. It is too special to saddle with an incongruous and inappropriate new development. As we have noted before, when working to protect Riverside Park:

  •  On January 26, 1998, a Resolution of the Schenectady City Council resolved, that Riverside Park “is recognized as a unique component of the [Stockade Historic] District and best serves residents and visitors as a quiet place to view the natural beauty of the Mohawk River.”  In addition, the Resolution stated that “to change its special nature would deprive visitors and disadvantage the homeowners who are the caretakers in this Historic District of national importance.”
  • With its combination of urban waterfront beauty and relative tranquility, Riverside Park was praised by the editor of Architect Forum as “probably the finest thing of its kind in America.” (Dec. 1961) 
  • rittnerdon-mug  Although he later unsuccessfully sought to have a 300-foot dock installed at Riverside Park for his Onrust replica boat, Don Rittner (former City and County Historian) was well aware of how special this Park is. He wrote in a report prepared in 2007 for the City Planning Department concerning a proposed Bike Trail, that “Riverside Park is valued as a unique component of the Stockade Historic District offering residents and visitors a relatively tranquil place to enjoy a magnificent view of the Mohawk River from the walking path and park benches.”

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