Not just a vote, but a commitment to a brighter future for Albany

Many eons ago, in a galaxy far away, I was not the academically successful student during my Catholic school years. So much so that there was a choice given — whether to move up to Bishop Maginn High School (conditionally) or shift in the fork in the road to Albany High School.

For many reasons today, I am grateful for my 14 year old self not having focused so much on elementary and middle school because I would not have had the full opportunity to have embraced my love of journalism, the hands-on experience in video and television production, and experienced the microcosm of the world that is Albany High School.

Without Albany High School, I would not be co-owning and managing my agency, nor co-owning a cafe in one of Albany’s most diverse neighborhoods, let alone the incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have interviewed President Bill Clinton at the University at Albany.

And because of my experience there and the experiences of so many before me and after me, is why I will be voting Yes for the Albany High School rebuild plan.

Three months ago, on that fateful November evening into the following days, voters narrowly turned down the original $196 million proposal. Three months later leading up to Tuesday’s vote, parents, students, alumni, school officials, and boosters have made the case for the revised plan – which will cost homeowners $19 a year (for a property valued at $150,000) vs. the original $42 per year.

Modern, state-of-the-art classroom spaces, an expanded auditorium, improvements to HVAC, and safety measures are all still part of the plan.

More importantly, this is a time to be edifice progressive than regressive. County Legislator Andrew Joyce nicely pointed out in his Albany Times Union blog the short-sighted opposition to the construction of the Knickerbocker Arena (now Times Union Center). Could you imagine Downtown Albany without the arena? Without the jobs it has brought in not only at the arena, but at the hotels, restaurants, and other establishments that benefit from having this civic center right in Albany? I cringe at that parallel universe.

I have committed and invested in this city because I believe in it’s potential. But like any strong business plan, it needs to have a foundation rooted in its ability to adapt for modern times. This rebuild plan sets Albany High School with that foundation.

So the questions remain: can we continue to imagine an Albany High School that cannot address modern needs and amenities that exist in fellow urban and suburban districts? No. Can we allow for those who believe in being regressive in the approach because they do not believe in Albany to dictate our future? No.

This vote is not about costs, figures, and semantics — it is about providing opportunities for the future of the Capital City’s next generation of scholars, lawyers, doctors, journalists, leaders, and yes – spin masters. Please vote Yes on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

The future of Albany will thank you.

About the author

Joe Bonilla is the managing partner, co-founder, and senior media director for Relentless Awareness.