News from the NYS Assembly
Committee on Cities

Sheldon Silver, Speaker · Scott Stringer, Chair · Fall 2003

Assemblyman Scott Stringer
Message from the Chair

Dear Friend:

Since my appointment as Chairperson of the Assembly Committee on Cities, we have been hard at work to improve state legislation affecting New York’s sixty-two cities. It was a very busy legislative session for the Committee. Many vital issues came before the Committee, including the renewal of important economic development programs, legislation to aid specific cities, and reforms to existing bodies in city governments.

The Committee held three hearings concerning city issues. Two of the hearings marked the start of the 2003 City Summits, a series of public forums designed to create an urban agenda for New York State. We are pleased to report that the first two Summits in Albany and New York City were successful, and the Committee anticipates their continuation this fall in Buffalo and Syracuse. In addition, we held a park alienation public hearing in regard to the alienation of parkland in Van Cortlandt Park.

The purpose of the Committee on Cities is to elevate the level of assistance, whether it be financial or legislative, that New York State’s urban areas receive. Supporting our urban areas helps to invigorate our economy and make our cities more attractive places to live and work. As always, the Committee will work to achieve these goals. Please feel free to share your ideas and opinions with us at any time; we look forward to your input as we continue to work toward helping our cities grow.

Scott Stringer
Chair, Committee on Cities

Assemblymember Scott Stringer
Chair, NYS Assembly Committee on Cities
Room 842 LOB · Albany, NY 12248 · 518.455.5802


Energy Cost Savings Program
The Committee passed a bill to extend the Energy Cost Savings Program (ECSP) and the Lower Manhattan Energy Program (LMEP), which provide utility rebates for certain New York City businesses. It is essential that the State encourage the growth of new and existing businesses throughout New York City so that our economy can continue to rebuild and expand.

RePAIR Program
The Revitalization Projects and Infrastructure Renewal (RePAIR) Program, Assembly bill A.4579 sponsored by Assemblymember Sam Hoyt, provides financial support to assist cities with the demolition and disposal of abandoned buildings and vacated warehouses. If enacted, this program would provide roughly $5 million in local aid to cities for demolition of these vacant structures, thereby freeing up space for city leaders to develop properties attractive for business and other economic development initiatives. This bill passed the Assembly Committee on Cities and currently awaits action in the Assembly Ways & Means Committee.

"Total Collapse":
Reforming NYC Department of Buildings

In November 2002, Committee Chair Scott Stringer’s office released a scathing report, "Total Collapse: How NYC Department of Buildings Failed Policies Contribute to Crumbling Buildings," exposing the dangerous conditions in New York City buildings and the failure of the Department of Buildings (DOB) to address these violations. Assemblymember Stringer introduced legislation (A.8117) to respond to weaknesses within the DOB and take thousands of New Yorkers’ lives out of danger. New York City can substantially reduce outstanding building violations by mandating that building inspectors record all violations present in a building and report the violations to the relevant agency if needed. It is imperative to increase tenant awareness of needed repairs in their buildings through public notice detailing outstanding violations.

Overall, Assembly bill A.8117 strengthens the enforcement arm of the DOB and its ability to protect the residents of New York City’s buildings.

New York City Charter Revision Reform
The City Charter governs all New York City residents, but only a select few are allowed to sit on City Charter Revision Commissions to create proposals to amend the charter. The Committee believes these Commissions should be representative of all New York City residents, which is why the Committee pushed A.8828, which would require the Mayor to appoint a Commission based upon nominations by the Comptroller, the Public Advocate, and the Borough Presidents acting together. In addition, one member would be nominated by each of the borough delegations of the City Council.

Not only would this legislation make Charter Revision Commissions more representative, it would also ensure that the Commission is appointed by February 15th, thus providing adequate time for proposals to be considered before being placed on the ballot. The recent passage of this bill in the Assembly sends a loud message to all city governments: Do not abuse the process of governing.

Empire Zone Program Reform
When first proposed by the Assembly, the Empire Zone Program represented an innovative economic development tool to provide tax incentives for businesses within specified urban areas to create jobs. Unfortunately, the implementation and management of this program has been woefully inadequate. Many eligible businesses have been denied benefits under the program, while businesses not qualifying for the program have inexplicably received Empire Zone benefits.

Given the critical role of New York’s businesses in rebuilding our cities, it is past time that we reform a plan exhibiting such potential to boost New York’s economy. Passage of the Assembly’s Empire Zone reform package would restore the integrity of this program and return the Empire Zone Program to its original intent of job creation in New York State.

Photo   Assemblymember Stringer (second from right) holds a Cities Committee hearing with, from left to right: Assemblymembers Pat Casale, Thomas Kirwan and John McEneny.


A primary goal of the Committee on Cities has been to collaborate with city leaders across the State to create a new urban agenda that revitalizes New York State’s sixty-two cities. From our smallest city, Sherill, to our largest, New York City, many common problems plague urban areas. For this reason, the Committee convened the 2003 City Summits, a public forum for city elected officials and advocates to testify about urban issues and innovative solutions to resolve these challenges.

The first two City Summits, held in Albany on May 11 and in New York City on May 22, were successful in gathering information both on urban issues and new avenues for addressing them. Testimony touched on topics ranging from the role of the arts in urban development to the importance of affordable housing and education in ensuring the quality of life for all city residents.

The Committee thanks everyone who participated in the first two Summits and looks forward to the second round of City Summits to be held in Buffalo and Syracuse this fall. Cities throughout Western and Central New York will be represented at the upcoming hearings. Upon the conclusion of these Summits, the Committee will develop a report that outlines an urban agenda for New York State for the 21st Century. To register for either of the two upcoming hearings, please call Julia Donnaruma at 518-455-4363.

City Summits Information

Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Buffalo State College
Butler Library Room 210
Buffalo, New York
11:00 AM
  Thursday, October 30, 2003
Onondaga County Legislative Chambers
County Courthouse
401 Montgomery Street Room 407
Syracuse, New York
11:00 AM


Don’t let the power grid control your home! Please join us in an interactive presentation of cutting edge technologies for your building. Learn about ways to help the environment and prevent another blackout.

NY Historical Society
2 West 77th Street
Wednesday, October 1st
5-8 PM

Please call Susannah Vickers at (212) 873-6368 for more information.


On May 23, 2003, the Committee on Cities held a hearing focused on the issues surrounding the alienation of parkland in Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, New York. Park alienation would be necessitated by the proposed construction of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-ordered water filtration plant underneath the alienated parkland. Over fifty witnesses testified before the Committee, including advocates on both sides of the alienation.

This testimony contributed to valuable amendments to the legislation, including a requirement that New York City conduct a Supplemental Environmental Impact Study (SEIS) to identify any impacts of changes to the plant beyond those cited in the original Environmental Impact Study (EIS). New York City, the Senate Majority Leader, and the Speaker of the Assembly must also sign a Memorandum of Understanding appropriating park improvement monies related to the alienation before any construction on the plant begins. In addition, clarification was added to the bill to clearly state that no land review process may be usurped during this process.

Facts About the Cities of New York State

  • Grover Cleveland, the 22nd President of the United States, was sworn in as Mayor of Buffalo on January 2nd, 1882. Just two years later he would be elected President.
  • George Ferris, the inventor of the Ferris Wheel, and Washington Roebling, the builder of the Brooklyn Bridge, both learned their trade at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.
  • Rome, New York was home to, and is the final resting place for, Francis Bellamy, author of the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • In 1853, George Crumb cooked the world’s first potato chip in Saratoga Springs.
  • On September 4, 1882, street lights illuminated the streets of New York City for the first time. The pioneering inventor behind the design was Thomas Edison.
  • In 1811, DeWitt Clinton laid out the grid system for the streets of Manhattan which we still use today.
  • The original name of Central Park was "The People’s Park" but it was renamed and moved from its original intended East Side location to a more central position in the city.
  • The Capitol building in Albany took four decades to build, beginning in 1867 and finishing in 1899. The final cost was a staggering $25 million. Today, that same structure would cost a half billion dollars to build.
  • Map
    Map of New York State’s Cities

  • The City of Olean was founded because of the need for a convenient trading route to the Ohio area and the West. It was founded in 1804, when Ohio had just been admitted to the Union and the West was the symbol of challenge and adventure to hundreds of pioneers eager to build a new nation.
  • Troy was also the home of meat-packer Samuel Wilson, better known today by Americans as "Uncle Sam."
  • The City of Cortland, settled in 1791, was incorporated in 1900 as the 41st city in the State of New York. Known as the "Crown City" because of its location on a plain formed by the convergence of seven valleys, Cortland is situated about 1,130 feet above sea level, making it the uppermost city to crown the State.
  • Rye, New York was originally part of Connecticut. It was ceded unwillingly in 1683 to the Province of New York by King Charles II as a gift to his brother, the Duke of York. But when a New York court cut the Harrison area from the settlement in 1695, the Rye colonists rejoined Connecticut in protest. In 1700, Rye again became part of New York by royal decree, this time permanently. The New York State Legislature officially established the Town of Rye boundaries in 1788.

E-mail Updates

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To sign up, e-mail Assemblymember Stringer at and we will add your name to the distribution list.

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