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Pine Hills Secretary

March 15, 2010

By R.J. Tamburri

It was the accessibility that attracted Hammer, and her husband John, to the neighborhood—the grocery store, library, school, and theater all within walking distance. “It was incredibly convenient,” she said. “I was able to take the bus right downtown to my job.”

The idea of living in a neighborhood, and a sense of community, has kept the couple in the neighborhood. “I like living in the city. I always have,” said John Hammer. “We have urban problems like everyone else, but that’s part of living in the city.”

Both Virginia and John are actively involved in trying to fix those problems. Both are members of the Neighborhood Association. They say the city isn’t doing enough to address these issues, so it’s up to the residents to make a difference.

Next month the Neighborhood Association will meet with students from The College Of Saint Rose and the University at Albany to discuss how they can help the neighborhood.

Virginia also works with a coalition focused around bringing positive press to the “the Point” area, where Madison and Western avenues adjoin. The coalition’s goal is to showcase the area at a time when residents are moving out of the city and Albany’s reputation is suffering, she said.

“She’s particularly passionate about the upper Madison area,” said Julia Healy, president of the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association. “She’s very driven, very focused, and she makes everyone around her driven and focused.” Hammer was the leader behind the “Taste of Madison” event last October that brought together many of the local businesses and residents of the neighborhood, said Healy.

Despite the growing number of problems, Virginia and John Hammer still call South Allen Street, and the Pine Hills neighborhood, their home. The two have a son and a daughter, Nick and Lauren, who both live in the neighborhood. “The positives outweigh the negatives,” said Virginia, who pointed to the public library, Madison Theater, Pine Hills Elementary, and Steamer 10 as some of the neighborhood’s highlights. “We don’t want to leave.” -30-

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