Black history matters, save Sandidge Way

To the Editor:

The Albany County Planning Board will be considering a proposal to rezone Loughlin Street to allow for the construction of six four- and five-story apartment buildings.  Loughlin Street currently has nine single-family historically significant houses on it.

The companies that will profit from the rezoning that no one on the neighboring streets wants are Columbia Development and Dawn Homes.  The arrogance of the representatives of these two companies is appalling.  Examples of this date back to 2014 when Columbia secretly acquired the homes by what some have referred to as block-busting.

Columbia did not maintain the property.  On May 26, I photographed the lawns. They obviously had not been mowed for a long time and some of the weeds came as high as halfway up a garage door.  I reported this to the Department of General Services and, at least for now, the lawns are being mowed.

The city was planning to change the name of Loughlin Street to Sandidge Way to honor Teresa and Jesse Sandidge who lived there and played an important role in black history as well as integration history.  Dawn Homes had the audacity to name the apartments the Sandidge Way Apartments despite their plans to demolish the Sandidges’ former home as well as all the other homes that were part of an integrated community since the early 1960s.

A street sign saying Sandidge Way was put up on the street. When I saw the sign changed back to Loughlin Street,I was surprised so I called the city to find out why.  I was informed that the city didn’t put up the Sandidge Way sign or change it back to Loughlin.  So I wonder who did.

I attended two Albany Common Council hearings on rezoning.  At the second one on July 7, Common Council members asked many good questions of representatives of Columbia and Dawn Homes.  Many answers were, at best, evasive and sometimes they responded that they didn’t know.

Some of the questions were the same ones that they were asked at the first hearing, but apparently they did not feel the need to do their homework before the second one. They appear to believe that they can do whatever they want. Maybe they can.

They clearly expect to get away with destroying the quality of life and health of people in the surrounding neighborhood, harming the environment by clear cutting, forcing students who cross Fuller Road to inhale construction dust containing crystalline silica, and demolishing a treasured part of local black history.

The houses on beautiful Sandidge Way have historic significance and after being restored inside would make wonderful homes.

Black history matters. Examples of white history are all around us.  We should celebrate and preserve black history. Save Sandidge Way.

Carol Waterman


Editor’s note: See related coverage.

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