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December 3, 2010


Call the Mayor's Office: 518 434-5100 or email: and tell him that you do not want Him to veto the amendment to the proposed budget that keeps open Bath #2.

For the second time this year, this Common Council has been compelled by the public to defy the mayor. Nine of the fourteen members present at Albany City Hall on Monday, November 29 voted in favor of an amendment to the proposed City budget to keep Bath #2 open with contingency funds.

President Carolyn McLaughlin, who initially appeared to favor closing the pool, pointed out that of all the controversial issues in the proposed budget for 2011, only the issue of closing Bath #2 brought out the public to lobby the Common Council meeting the last Monday of November.

In other words, the folks who showed up at the Common Council meeting last Monday delivered a message to the elected officials: if you close our pool we won’t let you forget about it. And this act of showing up has made a big difference.

And now Jerry Jennings is really, really upset. He has emerged from the shadows and identified Himself as having ordered the Common Council to close our pool. For the first time ever he threatened to use his veto power to kill the amendment that keeps Bath #2 open. According to Dominick Calsolaro (Ward 1) we are currently one vote short of overriding a veto by Jennings.

Jennings’ line is that he wants to “replace” Bath #2 with the Arbor HIll Community Center pool, which is located on the other side of town. To do this He plans to lay off the lifeguards and maintenance workers at Arbor Hill and transfer to there the current employees of Bath #2. (Keeping open Bath #2 saves five jobs.)

But right now Arbor Hill is only open from 4 - 8 PM five days a week! And, according to the employees there (The Wife called and made inquiries) this pool is also under advertised and therefore underused.

Personally, I don’t believe for one second that Jerry Jennings intends to keep the Arbor Hill pool open or even to extend it’s hours. I’ve heard all this before. Perhaps the City should encourage use of both pools and set up swimming programs for our youth. Like they used to.

James Sano (Ward 9) sponsored the amendment to fund Bath #2. Mr. Sano, who strongly believes in physical education, decried the lack of swimming facilities in the City. Clearly his support swayed some other members present who would have normally gone along with the mayor’s wishes without thinking.

Anton Konev (Ward 11) despite his apparent opposition to providing funding through bonding, voted to use contingency funds for the pool. Now he absolutely hates me and The Wife for browbeating him so publicly over this issue, but oh well. You can’t expect to make friends when you stand up and defend your community.

There was a dramatic moment when Richard Conti (Ward 6) hesitated, weighing the mayor’s pressure against the voters. Or as he put it, weighing “fiscal responsibility” against “his heart.” Finally, Mr. Conti announced his “yes” vote.

The roll call of Bath #2 supporters was Calsolaro, Conti, Cathy Fahey (Ward 7,) Leah Golby (Ward 10,) Konev, Michael O’Brien!! (Ward 12,) John Rosenzwieg!! (Ward 8) Sano, and of course Barbara Smith (Ward 4.) Clearly Mr. Sano’s sponsorship made a difference.

The other five common Council members present defied the taxpayers. To no one’s surprise Ron Bailey (Ward 3) did exactly as he was told to do and voted “no.” Another dramatic moment came when Jackie Jenkins-Cox hesitated before sheepishly voting “no.” I wonder if this no vote means that Jenkins-Cox supports laying off five workers at the Arbor Hill Community Center.

Which member wasn’t present for the vote? Lester Freeman of Ward 2, the home of Bath #2. He called to say that he was stuck in an airport in Texas and couldn’t make the Common Council meeting. Uh-huh.

Initially Lester stated strong opposition to keeping open our pool. That attitude appeared to have changed when he emerged from hiding long enough to attend the first meeting of the Save Our Pool committee, where he made lots of positive noises and took note of the passion of his constituents and neighbors to keeping our pool.

But Lester Freeman called Jerry Jennings’ Friday AM radio show on Dec. 3 and declared his opposition to keeping open our pool. And he made a lot of fawning noises, saying how much he supports the mayor. So that’s it. Lester Freeman no longer represents his neighbors in the Second Ward, he has declared himself merely another one of Jerry Jennings’ minions.

Below is an appeal from Jacqui Williams of the Bath #2 citizen’s committee, her take on the Common Council vote last Monday:

Even after sharing concerns, the City Council voted Monday to make funding available to keep this “diamond in need of polishing” in the budget mostly based on what they heard from constituents and friends. Mayor Jennings needs to hear we do not want him to veto their decision.

Call the Mayor's Office: 518 434-5100 or email: and tell him that you do not want Him to veto the amendment to the proposed budget that keeps open Bath #2.

“This is a social policy and social justice issue” stated Council member Barbara Smith as she rose to speak to the amendment to keep Public Bath House #2 open. She and Council member Calsolaro pointed out that the facility wouldn’t even have been an issue if located anywhere else in the city. The South End has so little in terms of recreation, entertainment, services and public spaces that to eliminate something that can be enjoyed by all ages, increases wellness and safety and is a positive place for youth would be a travesty.

Community members spoke out about how they learned to swim there, bring children along with those with special needs to swim, can afford to go there when gym memberships are prohibitive, enjoy freedom of movement in water for physical therapy, value the historic building, work already in process to locate grants and partnerships to aid in repair/maintaining/updating, public/private collaborations to increase usage and how the City has allowed this facility to suffer through “benign neglect”. Absentee landlords are being held accountable for failing to maintain properties and the City needs to acknowledge its role in letting the Bath House get to this point.

There still needs to be a comprehensive assessment of the Bath House’s needs and a specific plan to address how the Department of Parks and Recreation will market, make fees more reasonable and develop programs and establish a time frame for locating the additional funding.

Tell Mayor Jennings there is no reason to veto the amendment. Call 518 434-5100 or email

Jacqui C. Williams