Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan recently joined community leaders and other local officials to announce plans for the former Livingston Par, which has been renamed Black Lives Matter Park. Included in the plans are a $600,000 investment for the Albany Boxing Gym facility and plans for a new community center for the West Hill neighborhood.
According to Sheehan, when she took office she immediately tried to create a plan to help West Hill but “found that before we could even make a plan, we needed to invest.”
During her speech, Sheehan gave examples of how she invested in West Hill. Earlier this year, the city finished replacing all the district’s asphalt sidewalks with newer concrete ones. The park where the press conference was held has a new zipline and jungle gym complete with kids happily playing on them, oblivious to all the adults with cameras. All of the street lights in the district have been upgraded to make the neighborhood “brighter and safer.” The mayor also announced an initiative to plant 2,025 new trees in Albany by 2025.
The $600,000 for the Quail Street boxing gym is to be used on renovating its air conditioning, heating and making sure the roof is sound. “We have to ensure that the gym can continue to provide services, unlike what happened to the Boys and Girls Club that used to be on Livingston Ave,” Sheehan said.
Before the new community center can be built, a needs-assessment will be done with community involvement and a request for proposals will be issued. The community is being asked to help develop a plan for the new center. Potential features include a gymnasium, pool, weight room, employment services and senior services. The mayor is committing capital funds from the 2021 budget for engineering and design costs.
Mayor Sheehan was accompanied at the event by City Councilman Jahmel Robinson, City Councilwoman Joyce Love, City Councilman Michael O’Brien, NY State Assemblyman John T. McDonald, Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins and Albany County Legislator Norma Chapman.