Better-looking Kingston is Mayor Shayne Gallo's goal
KINGSTON, N.Y. — A concerted push to crack down on building code violators, including the creation of a Quality of Life Task Force and a pending set of related local laws, is part of a strategy to improve the city’s appearance, Mayor Shayne Gallo says.
Budget transfers, employee assignments and proposed local laws all are aimed at improving neighborhoods where there is too much blight, Gallo said.
“What we are trying to address is a number of years of neglect of enforcement of building codes and zoning codes in the city,” he said. “I feel that this approach is a long overdue and necessary to address the quality-of-life concerns of the public.
“This (strategy) will create a better, cleaner city and make it more attractive to perspective residents and businesses who want to come to Kingston,” said Gallo, who has been mayor since Jan. 1.
Gallo has proposed laws that he says will allow his administration to more aggressively target bad landlords and tenants and expedite the demolition of abandoned, derelict buildings.
The so-called Rental Safety Certificate Law will require landlords to notify the city each time they rent to a new tenant, while the proposed Tenant Responsibility Act would put tenants on notice when they violate city codes. Another Gallo initiative would speed the city’s ability to raze abandoned buildings.
“Historically, throughout the city, there are many properties that are dilapidated ... that have been neglected (for action) by prior administrations,” Gallo said.
All three proposals will require Common Council approval. The proposed rental certificate law already has drawn skepticism from lawmakers and objections from landlords, but Gallo is forging ahead.
Last week, he announced that a team of city employees in the Police Department, the Fire Department’s Building Safety Division and the Department of Pubic Works, collectively known as the Quality of Life Task Force, has been instructed to specifically target exterior building code violations.
Within the Building Safety Division, Gallo plans to add a full-time building inspector. He also has issued an edict that the trash code enforcement officer in the Department of Public Works stay on top of exterior building problems. Continued...
In addition, Gallo said Police Chief Egidio Tinti has instructed on-duty lieutenants to be on the lookout for anything they might notice as being in violation of city building or zoning codes.
Last week, Gallo announced he had hired Michael Madsen, a former Democratic city alderman and Ulster County legislator, as a city zoning code enforcement officer. That job previously was performed by a deputy chief in the fire department on an overtime basis.
Meanwhile, Gallo said the ongoing Block-by-Block code enforcement program initiated by former Mayor James Sottile will continue throughout the city.
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