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Old 03-04-2012, 11:32 PM
 
Location: Albany, NY
335 posts, read 761,781 times
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I'm originally from Boston, but have also lived in Washington DC and Madison WI (my favorite of all, but everyone is overqualified for their jobs in Madison).

Public school lotteries here are not like NYC. There are no parent interviews or testing of the kids to make sure they will fit in. It is simply a lottery where everyone who is interested in a particular school puts their name in. In Albany the lottery is weighted - more preference is given to students who have siblings in the school already and to those who live within a half mile of the school. After that, they try to keep the student body relatively equal in terms of gender, race and free lunch eligibility. Yes, the lottery (magnet) schools are schools that people from anywhere in the District are eligible to attend. Once you are in a school, you are guaranteed a spot unless you leave for another school and then want to come back.

In Albany, there is also Open Enrollment for non-lottery elementary schools. What this means is if there are seats open in a grade after everyone who is zoned for the school has signed up, parents can apply for their children to go to that school even if they live outside the zone. Once in the school through Open Enrollment, I believe the children can stay in the school. It used to be that almost every student who applied to schools through open enrollment got in, but I don't know if that is still the case in the younger grades. There seems to be a bit of a boomlet of families with young children in Albany, and I know many of the PreK, K and first grades are quite large. ("Large" is definitely defined differently than in places like Chicago and Florida which have huge classes these days. In my son's elementary school, the largest a class can be is 26 due to the physical limitations of the rooms and furniture.)

I forgot to mention previously that there are commuter buses that run from Saratoga Springs to Albany (Saratoga and Saratoga Springs usually are referring to the same thing - the City of Saratoga - but the city is in Saratoga County). These are comfortable coach buses, and I know people who take them and get a lot of work done on them. However, if your work is located somewhere other than downtown Albany, the buses probably aren't practical.
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Old 03-04-2012, 11:51 PM
 
Location: Raleigh Metro Area
69 posts, read 162,333 times
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Thank you for demystifying the school info! And good to know about the buses. That sounds less stressful than driving. I think you used the term "car-centric" before, and I am definitely not like that. If I could avoid driving, I definitely would. Although, I have gotten used to it after living here for so long.

Speaking of driving, I'm nervous about driving up there because I'm so out of practice in driving in winter weather. What are the roads like in the winter? I imagine they're pretty good at salting/clearing or whatever else they have to do? Everything halts in Austin if there is freezing rain or snow, because of course people are not used to that kind of weather at all. In a way it's kind of nice to have schools closing or companies telling employees to work from home on those days (if that's possible), and it's ok because it's pretty rare. But I imagine that during a normal winter up there, people are pretty much forced to face dangerous road conditions on a regular basis?

I was just checking out houses on zillow and noticed some Albany neighborhoods I don't remember being mentioned.. Pine Hills? Arbor Hill? I like how these houses look, old with lots of character. Some brownstones. What are these neighborhoods like? I also really like a lot of the houses on New Scotland Ave. It's nice to be able to get an idea of what a neighborhood looks like by seeing what the houses and yards look like.
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Old 03-05-2012, 02:29 AM
 
65,641 posts, read 91,519,035 times
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Arbor Hill, parts of West Hill and much of the South End are Albany's most notorious neighborhoods.

As for snow, it usually is dealt with in a timely manner and life goes on. There is the infrastructure with plows and the salting/sanding of streets and roads.

As for walkability, there are some smaller cities, villages and even planned suburban areas that may offer it to some degree. Villages tend to have higher taxes due to having village and town services, but in many cases, homes are on par with urban areas. It will depend on the village though.

A smaller city that seems to have a growing arts community is Cohoes. It is a former mill city of about 16,000. http://www.choosecohoes.com/

City of Cohoes, NY - City of Cohoes, NY

Cohoes, New York - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cohoes City Schools

Places like Scotia, Ballston Spa, Watervliet, Rensselaer, Waterford, Green Island, Delmar, Menands, Hoosick Falls, Colonie(village) and parts of Niskayuna and Rotterdam may also offer a good degree of walkability. This website can give an idea of how walkable neighborhoods and communities can be: Get Your Walk Score - A Walkability Score For Any Address

Last edited by ckhthankgod; 03-05-2012 at 03:26 AM..
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Old 03-05-2012, 02:58 AM
 
65,641 posts, read 91,519,035 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ckhthankgod View Post
Arbor Hill, parts of West Hill and much of the South End are Albany's most notorious neighborhoods.

As for snow, it usually is dealt with in a timely manner and life goes on. There is the infrastructure with plows and the salting/sanding of streets and roads.

As for walkability, there are some smaller cities, villages and even planned suburban areas that may offer it to some degree. Villages tend to have higher taxes due to having village and town services, but in many cases, homes are on par with urban areas. It will depend on the village though.

A smaller city that seems to have a growing arts community is Cohoes. It is a former mill city of about 16,000. Cohoes, NY Directory | Tourist Attractions | Shopping | Dining | Entertainment | Albany | Cohoes | New York | NY

City of Cohoes, NY - City of Cohoes, NY

Cohoes, New York - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cohoes City Schools

Places like Scotia, Ballston Spa, Watervliet, Rensselaer, Waterford, Green Island, Delmar, Menands, Colonie(village) and parts of Niskayuna and Rotterdam may also offer a good degree of walkability. This website can give an idea of how walkable neighborhoods and communities can be: Get Your Walk Score - A Walkability Score For Any Address
Another interesting thing to add is that school districts like Menands and Wynantskill go up to 8th grade, while Green Island is in a K-12 building. Menands School is very diverse:
Search For Schools, Colleges and Libraries

and the district gives tuition/tax dollars for students to attend Shaker(North Colonie SD), Watervliet or Tech Valley High Schools. Wynantskill(aka Gardner-Dickinson) does the same for Troy, Averill Park, Colombia(East Greenbush SD) and Tamarac(Brunswick(Brittonkill)SD) High Schools.
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:32 AM
 
65,641 posts, read 91,519,035 times
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You may like this too: NY Vegetarian Expo
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Old 03-05-2012, 08:40 PM
 
Location: Albany, NY
335 posts, read 761,781 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roamingveg View Post
Speaking of driving, I'm nervous about driving up there because I'm so out of practice in driving in winter weather. What are the roads like in the winter? I imagine they're pretty good at salting/clearing or whatever else they have to do? Everything halts in Austin if there is freezing rain or snow, because of course people are not used to that kind of weather at all. In a way it's kind of nice to have schools closing or companies telling employees to work from home on those days (if that's possible), and it's ok because it's pretty rare. But I imagine that during a normal winter up there, people are pretty much forced to face dangerous road conditions on a regular basis?

I was just checking out houses on zillow and noticed some Albany neighborhoods I don't remember being mentioned.. Pine Hills? Arbor Hill? I like how these houses look, old with lots of character. Some brownstones. What are these neighborhoods like? I also really like a lot of the houses on New Scotland Ave. It's nice to be able to get an idea of what a neighborhood looks like by seeing what the houses and yards look like.
The major highways are cleared very quickly, and it is usually no problem to drive on them unless it is during a storm. Main streets in cities and larger towns are also cleared constantly throughout storms. (New Scotland Ave in Albany is usually excellent because there are two hospitals on that road, as well as the current mayor's house.) More rural areas and side streets are not plowed as well or as quickly, but I bet the driving will come back to you quickly. Also, many employers are very understanding about coming in late when there is snow and ice, especially if you just moved from the South!

Arbor Hill has some beautiful architecture. Unfortunately that neighborhood has a reputation of not being so good. Pine Hills is a mixed bag - parts of it are extremely family friendly, and parts have started to get overrun with loud and obnoxious college students. The folks at the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association would likely have the real scoop on which areas to avoid renting/buying in if you are a family.

Many people I know who are zoned for Pine Hills Elementary School go instead to the magnet schools, but I'm not sure why. Pine Hills Elementary's scores are decent, it has an active PTA, and it's one of the few urban schools in the country to participate in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program. The school population is poorer than some of the other schools - probably because of the lemming effect - Its cachement zone includes some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Albany, but probably a few wealthy families in the zone chose magnet or private schools and others followed.
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Old 03-06-2012, 12:34 PM
 
95 posts, read 171,306 times
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Buckingham Pond and the Campus area are the nicest parts of the city of Albany--although I can't afford to live there personally. The Stuyvessant Plaza area seems pretty nice.
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Old 03-06-2012, 04:50 PM
 
65,641 posts, read 91,519,035 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cshells72 View Post
Buckingham Pond and the Campus area are the nicest parts of the city of Albany--although I can't afford to live there personally. The Stuyvessant Plaza area seems pretty nice.
What about Whitehall and Helderburg? This could help too: Neighborhoods of Albany, New York - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:53 PM
 
Location: Raleigh Metro Area
69 posts, read 162,333 times
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Thank you for the winter weather road info, that's reassuring. And thank you for the walkability and vegetarian expo links!

I'm also keeping a list of all of the neighborhood and school info that's been provided, this is so helpful. When I was researching Raleigh, one person commented that if you look at it on a map and imagine a clock face on top of the center of Raleigh, you would want to avoid living anywhere between 1 and 6 o'clock. I thought this was such an easy visual way to suggest, generally, where to live or not live there. Any similar tricks for the cities and towns in the tech valley / capitol region? No biggie if not.

Just checked the Albany neighborhood link, thank you! Very helpful.

Which supermarket chains are in the area? Most of the regular supermarket chains here carry a lot of organic and vegetarian-friendly stuff. I'm glad to hear there's a food co-op to cover the specialties, but we probably can't shop there for everything.

How much is gas there right now?
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:03 PM
 
65,641 posts, read 91,519,035 times
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Albany Gas Prices - Find Cheap Gas Prices in New York

Natural and Organic

Don't forget about local farmers markets too.
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