“The county knows the issues because the county places people there,” Mahan said. “There are lots of cases where something happens immediately and someone needs shelter so the county has the responsibility of placing someone there versus placing them on the street. … It’s been more of looking into the concerns brought to us and trying to improve the situation for everyone because regardless of what the issues are for the people that are placed there, they still need a roof over their head.”
In a letter to Mahan, Albany County legislator Christine Benedict faulted the town for not dealing with the violations at the Skylane sooner.
“How could all of the violations ‘all of a sudden’ occur?” Benedict wrote. “These violations have been in existence for years, yet town officials have just now supposedly recognized them?”
She also said the problem is bigger than the Skylane.
“The motels on Route 5, and now in other areas of Colonie, have become breeding grounds for prostitution, drug usage, and other criminal activity,” Benedict said. “The town’s seeming inability to enforce its own definition of a motel is the basis of this problem.”
Benedict has suggested the town enforce motel land-use laws, which state that a hotel or motel is to provide temporary accommodations for people who are passing through.
Maggiulli said such a suggestion is simply unenforceable, and he can’t pick and choose which hotels and motels are subject to the law. Many hotels in the area have businessmen or low-income people that stay for extended periods of time.
He said the town initially worked closely with Benedict on the motel issue when Mahan first took office.
“She (Benedict) seemed to be pretty happy with what we were doing and encouraging us to do more, and we kept trying to do more until recently, she doesn’t feel we’re doing enough,” said Mahan. “That’s where we are now. We’re going to continue on our path and continue doing what we need to do.”