7/31/2005

Eminent Domain Opponent Dies

Pat Kelly of the Park South neighborhood of Albany, New York died on July 21st of cancer. Pat was one of the founders of, and the principle force behind, the Park South Walk & Watch. She was also active in the Park South Neighborhood Association. Pat was in her 60's and had lived and worked in Park South for more than four decades.

She loved her neighborhood. She knew every inch of it. Her commitment to it was unshakable. Though a tenant who could have left at any time, Pat stuck by Park South as it became blighted by crime and neglect. She worked hard to reverse that decline. She also defended Park South in the last few years when the city of Albany launched a redevelopment plan that involved the use of eminent domain. Pat, more than anyone, wanted Park South to be revitalized. But in her words, "Bulldozers are not the answer."

Pat was the heart of Park South. She was everything good about blue collar neighborhoods. Though she appeared gruff at times, and could face down threats by drug dealers, slumlords and politicians (all of which she received) Pat had a kind and loving soul. She organized Christmas toy drives for the neighborhood children and tried to help provide them with activities other than hanging out on the street. She was a total softy for stray cats. When a building she'd lived in when the neighborhood thrived burned down, Pat sat on the curb and cried. As much for the building's slide downhill as for its sudden demise. One of the things that bothered Pat most about crime was how fear of it limited the lives of the neighborhood's elderly residents. All of whom she knew.

When Pat walked down the street all kinds of people would come up to her and tell her about problems they were having with things such as druggies hanging on their stoop or garbage left on the street. Pat would listen, sympathize and provide practical advice. And encourage them to become involved with changing the neighborhood. Saying not to give up or move out. Park South could be saved.

Pat Kelly had many many friends from many walks of life. Park South relied on her strength and presence. It's hard to imagine the neighborhood without her. But then, I doubt if Pat's spirit has really left. She loved Park South that much.


Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff: editor@mondoqt.com