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Damien Center and Bike Lanes Top Meeting Agenda

October 16, 2014

by Erin Schlensker

Plans for the neighborhood’s Damien Center and city bicycle lanes were the primary agenda items at the  Thursday night meeting of the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association.

Plans are underway for renovation of 729 Madison Ave. to house the Albany Damien Center. Its quarters on South Lake Avenue were damaged in a fire in 2013. The Damien Center serves those living with AIDS and HIV. The South Lake property was sold last month and is expected to be converted into a single-family home.

Lorenz Worden speaks to Pine Hills Neighborhood/Erin Schlensker Association, October 16, 2014.

Lorenz Worden speaks to Pine Hills Neighborhood/Erin Schlensker Association, October 16, 2014.

Executive Director Perry Junjulas updated the board on his plans for the new building which will be used for residential purposes, as well as for offices, and a thrift store which will be open to the public. Junjulas has been working with architects to expand the building toward the current parking lot on the property.

“The goal is to build something that fits in the neighborhood. I want people to look at it and think that it has always been here,” Junjulas said.

“These people live in Albany already, they are not coming from far. We are giving them a place to stay and a hope for the future.”

The other primary focus of the meeting was the addition of protected bike lanes in the city. The protected bike lanes would be separated from traffic with some form of barrier would be erected. Lane improvement costs would range from $8,000 to $16,000 per mile of lane, according to Lorenz Worden, a member of the Albany Bicycle Coalition.

“This project will work alongside and enhance the traffic calming initiative for Madison Avenue that is already in place,” said Virginia Hammer, president of the neighborhood association.  “It will be very beneficial to not only the bikers, but everyone in the city.”

Worden said that the protected bike lanes will enhance city life. “It really isn’t too much work, with a lot of pay off. There is data from all across the nation that shows that this is an extremely successful idea.” The pair has presented the idea to the Mayor, and hopes to get the project moving as soon as possible.

The Pine Hills Neighborhood Association will meet again on November 20.

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