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November 3, 2018


Elections official calls South End 'a bad, dangerous neighborhood'

Bledi says board opposes shifting office to South Pearl Street facility

By Amanda Fries, Hearst-Owned Albany Times Union  Wednesday, October 3, 2018

ALBANY — County elections officials don’t want to move the Board of Elections to the South End because it’s “a bad, dangerous neighborhood,” according to Republican Commissioner Rachel Bledi.

Bledi said Wednesday that she and Democratic Elections Commissioner Matthew Clyne are opposed to moving their offices to the soon-to-be-vacant Department of Motor Vehicles site on South Pearl Street because of safety concerns.

“The neighborhood, quite frankly, is not safe,” Bledi said. “I do understand (Executive Daniel) McCoy’s desire to relocate us to a more affordable option, but it also has to come with proper security measures.”

McCoy took offense to Bledi's remarks about the South End, a neighborhood he grew up in.

"If it's unsafe for them, maybe it's unsafe for everyone else," McCoy said. "I think it's ludicrous. Are they better than the people who live down there? Are their workers different than firefighters, police officers, teachers?"

To save the county more than $350,000 annually, McCoy wants to shift the Board of Elections — currently located at 32 North Russell Road, just off Central Avenue — to 224-260 S. Pearl St., which the county owns and has leased to the state DMV for several years. Last month, McCoy confirmed to the Times Union that the state motor vehicles office was looking to relocate. Its lease is up at the end of October.

There are no definitive plans to move the county elections office to the South Pearl Street site, and they’re considering all options – including relocating the county probation office, currently located across from the Times Union Center. McCoy says that space has attracted lucrative offers from developers who want to  turn it into apartments.

McCoy also wants to enhance the South End. Any county office that may locate to the DMV building could move elsewhere if a more lucrative option – say, a grocery store – is proposed for the site, he said.

Bledi said she and Clyne are both opposed to the move, and while safety is their top concern, they also don’t think the space is functional for their needs.

“We did a tour of the facility, and it was very clear right off the bat it wasn’t going to work,” Bledi said. “It’s not what we’re looking for, and not what we need.”

Clyne did not return requests for comment.