Rotterdam looks at residence for federal offenders

The Rotterdam Town Board will look at the proposal of a residential re-entry facility for federal offenders releasing to Albany, Schenectady and Rensselaer areas during their Wednesday, April 28 meeting.

The change in zoning request would rezone a 1.5 acre parcel at 1921 Crisler Avenue from light industrial to multi-family residential for the construction of a re-entry center service facility for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The facility would help recently released federal offenders in Albany, Schenectady and Rensselaer to rebuild their lives after prison. Rotterdam Town Supervisor Frank Del Gallo said he is against the rezone, which would take industrial land that could be used to increase the tax base and give it to the federal government.

\It doesn't help our taxes at all, I don't see the benefit of it, said Del Gallo. "When I went into office I said that I would increase the tax base not take it down."

Firetree, Ltd., a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation designed to help those in the criminal justice system, has offered to create a facility at the property if the resolution is passed. President of Firetree, Ltd., Allen Ertel, said the company has worked to give back to the community at their locations in Pennsylvania and their sole New York location in Syracuse.

"Everybody's perception, in my opinion, is mistaken," said Ertel. "Rather than being a detriment to the community we help the community."

Ertel said their facilities are safe and help to build upon the community the aura of a police presence with officers visiting the facilities and work by the members of the facilities with the community. Ertel also said that in regards to the facility in Syracuse, the City and Syracuse University sent positive letters in regards to their renewal with the city.

"We've created a safer environment wherever we go," he said.

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