TROY, NY — At its finance meeting, the Troy City Council passed a resolution (6-1) to create a quality of life task force. The resolution aims to curb issues pertaining to illegal dumping, blight, code violations, ATVs, and dirt bikes, among others.
According to the language of legislation, the task force would be a formalized detailed unit comprised of a Community Police Officer or Patrol Officer, Code Enforcement Officer, Litter Patrol Officer, Public Works, Legal, and any other city staff necessary. The task force would look to tackle neighborhood quality of life issues one or two blocks at a time all throughout the city; and promote enforcement and education. The ultimate goal is to encourage landlords, residents and businesses to take pride in their neighborhood and partner with the city to revitalize neighborhoods.
Troy City Council President Carmella Mantello, a Republican, has been calling for a task force multiple times since 2020 and emphasized the importance of neighborhood involvement, having strength in numbers, and taking back city streets block by block.
“I really would hope our new deputy mayor [Chris Nolin] really works to get our agencies and our departments to work together and areas in our neighborhoods where we know of these code violations, ATVs wreaking havoc in our neighborhoods,” Mantello remarked on the need for more collaboration.
“We know there’s only a few bad apples out there but they’re killing our neighborhoods and it’s time we all work together and step up to the plate. All we’re asking is for the administration and the mayor to put together this task force to really target areas, and educate enforcement,” Mantello continued.
“We’re here, we’re not gonna do it alone. We’re here to help with whatever we can do to assist this effort. We truly believe in this process, it’s not about more staff, it’s about coordination, efficiency, and proactiveness,” Mantello added.
Council member Kim Ashe-McPherson, a Republican, described the issue as one of public health that has manifested in sections of the city throughout the years.
“I’ve probably sent thousands of emails and phone calls to different departments, over and over to see what we can do, what can be done. Dealing with our alleys, dealing with our streets, the illegal dumping, this has just gotten worse over the years,” Ashe-McPherson remarked.
“These are health issues. I don’t know how many alleys you have up in your area but I have a ton of alleys, seeing dirty diapers and the crows and the nests, these are health issues that have to be addressed,” Ashe-McPherson added.
Ashe-McPherson also suggested utilizing more community members to adopt a block, something fellow Republican council member Jim Gulli has advocated for in adopting an alley.
“I just think that we have a problem when we have multiple people who work in different departments together to collaborate and you bring people in the community to collaborate a lot of things can be discussed and a lot of things can be ideas can be brought out and a lot of generation to focus on an area can be done and I think that’s a positive thing,” Gulli commented on needing a focused, collaborative effort.
“No one person can do it. We can’t work on the staff we have but putting it together creates a team. That team can specifically help us on the idea of working these troubled areas one block at a time,” Gulli added.
Democratic council member Sue Steele, the lone no vote, noted that while she supports quality of life improvements, argued that there doesn’t need to be another task force as an added layer of bureaucracy.
Council member Emily Menn, a Democrat, who voted for the measure, commented on the need for there to be tangible, documented goals to determine the results yielded by such a task force.
“One of the things I think as we bring our various departments and their expertise together to the table to brainstorm, it’s particularly important that we include both landlords who care about their neighborhoods, homeowners, property owners, and I think we’ll also find more people in the community also impacted by quality of life issues,” Menn remarked on bringing community members into the mix.
“One of the things that I would ask of a task force is a set of measurable goals. People who live in Troy not only want to know that something is being done but they want to have something tangible, whether it’s using every single one of our city cameras to demonstrate something simple like that. We need to build trust,” Menn explained.
For Republican council member Irene Sorriento, it’s also a matter of restoring pride in the city and fixing negative perceptions.
“Driving down in South Troy I do see garbage all over the place. It attracts rats and it actually does attract crime,” Sorriento said.
“Crime levels have increased drastically and I’m sick and tired of hearing someone say, “oh you’re from Troylet?” It’s disgusting. It’s shameful. And I absolutely support this task force because I don’t want us to be from “Troylet,” I want us to be from the city of Troy and represent Troy,” Sorriento added.
The mayor’s office has 10 business days from when the resolution was passed on whether or not to act on the legislation.