Let it be known that I will not be running for Mayor of Albany anytime soon!  I just love my job too much to give it up to become a public servant, but I have 5 ways to #MakeAlbanyBetter.

Recently, I had the chance to meet Frank Commisso Jr. a bright young man who announced that he’ll be running for Mayor of Albany in the upcoming Fall election.  Upon introducing myself, I told him that I’m currently an Albany resident (have spent the majority of my life living in Albany) and have great passion for my city.  He asked me my thoughts about ways to improve the city, and as I began my diatribe, he was approached by another individual who requested his attention.  As a result, our chat was brief.  Since I know he’s dying to find out the rest, I’ll outline a few things in this post. This is a wish list of sorts, politics and red tape aside here are my 5 ways to #MakeAlbanyBetter.

-A shopping district in downtown Albany.  Perhaps on lower State Street in the area just south of the Capital Building.  Much like the way Saratoga Springs has shopping and cool trendy restaurants on Broadway.

-Better use of the Empire State Plaza.  Fourth of July at the Plaza is a smash.  Why not have other events there targeted to bring in the masses?  Large food festivals and a killer farmers market drive thousands to Troy on a regular basis. There’s tons of space for the same down at The Plaza but it’s mostly underutilized in my opinion.  I think a week/weekend long carnival or fair would be great as well.

-More restaurants and things to do near the Times Union center.  The last event I attended at the TU Center was UFC in December.  I was disappointed that my only food options before I went into the TU center was a hot dog place or a pizza parlor.  No dinner, no drinks outside the arena.  It was quite baron and sad.

-More parking. This is a huge concern for residents or visitors.  I live near Washington Park and that’s the number one complaint I hear from local residents.  One way to alleviate this problem is the usage of the many church parking lots in Center Square.  Open them up (for a nominal fee perhaps) and allow people to park there on days where it doesn’t interfere with Church service.  That would open up thousands of spots for people to park safely near their apartments and homes.

-Lark Street area needs to decide what it wants to be.  Are you shops and night life, residential or a combination of both?  Pick one and go for it.  Right now, there are vacated buildings where great restaurants and bars used to be.  LAX does well, and Bombers always has a nice turnout, but outside of that, Lark Street offers very little night life. In terms of residential improvements, Lark Street needs a real supermarket like a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods that urban professionals can walk to.  I’m fine with getting soda, beer, and chips from the convenient store type places, but where do I go for a variety of real groceries?

Restaurants, safety, entertainment, events, night life, parking? What would make Albany a better place to visit or live in? What would be on your #MakeAlbanyBetter wish list?