People who have to stay in boarding facilities shouldn’t be treated like the lowest of the low, and the Town of Colonie is striving to make that a thing of the past.
The Town Board will unveil new regulations at a Dec. 18 public hearing, designed to regulate extended stays at motels and hotels. These regulations came about after the incidents at the Skylane and Blu-Bell motels on Central Avenue, where residents had been living in squalid conditions, including mold and non-functional heating/cooling units. Alex Patel, who owned both hotels, is facing approximately $750,000 in fines for all of the code violations found in those facilities. These are also following a new 2010 local law, which addressed resident concerns about safety in this section of Central Ave., that limited the number of sex offenders from the Albany County Department of Social Services allowed to stay in one boarding facility.
The new regulations created by Town Attorney Michael Maggiulli and Supervisor Paula Mahan promise some amenities found at regular extended stay hotels: accommodations for sleeping; a kitchenette with a refrigerator, a stove or cook top and a sink; and an attached restaurant for tenants who are staying for more than 14 consecutive days. Also, permits will be required for building new boarding facilities, expanding on existing ones or restoring facilities on Central Avenue.
Owners will be protected, as well. A couple cannot register under one name for a 14-day stay and then switch to the other person’s name. Identification must now be photo copied, and the town’s building inspector and police department will have the authority to inspect the registers and records at any time, without prior notice.
All of these regulations are meant to prevent mistreatment of those who need these extended-stay hotels the most — lower income individuals who have no other place to live. They should be able to live with the same amount of dignity and pride as those who can afford their own homes or apartments, rather than hide away in an old motel room with vermin and filth.
We only wish these regulations were created years ago, before the Skylane and Blu-Bell deteriorated to the point where they should be torn down. The fact that it took until now for the town to create these regulations tells us they weren’t paying attention to what was going on until it was too late. That simply is inexcusable. Maybe a local government can’t know everything that’s going on, but it should be proactive in preventing disgraces such as the Skylane and Blu-Bell to happen.
At least, the Town of Colonie is trying to prevent this from happening again.