Union in the News for December 4, 2005
Gazette editorial on town-gown relations
By Online Edition - The Daily Gazette
Stephen Ainlay doesn't take over as Union College's 18 th president until June, but already there's good news coming from the campus as a result of his impending stewardship.
College spokesman Bill Schwarz was quoted in the Gazette Thursday as saying that Ainlay has "made clear" his intentions to "improve town-gown relations" in Schenectady. Schwarz himself spoke more supportively than anyone at Union has in the past about Mayor Brian Stratton's proposal for the college to pay the city for police and fire services.
Because Union is a nonprofit institution, it has never had to pay any property tax to the city. And yet, according to Stratton, the college consumes roughly $500,000 a year worth of police and fire services alone. That's based on the 275 times fire or emergency medical crews responded to calls at the campus in 2004, and the 207 times police were called there.
Stratton left few stones unturned in his quest for revenue during his first two years in office, and Union - where his wife worked until recently - was no exception. That's to his credit, even if he's yet to reap any benefit from his effort. Obviously, the college is in the midst of a transition, with longtime president Roger Hull resigning last spring. Interim President James Underwood has been understandably reluctant to make a major commitment to the city, and Stratton has been wise not to press for one. It appears, at last, that his patience may pay off.
As we've noted before, it seems only fair for a well-endowed college like Union to kick in a little of what it costs the city. Colleges in other cities have been doing likewise, and even though the Schenectady's financial fortunes have taken a turn for the better since Stratton took office, there's little question that it still needs all the help it can get.