AMSTERDAM, NY (WRGB) - An Amsterdam native and formal naval aviator has big plans for one street in Amsterdam.
David Mendez, a retired U.S. Navy Commander, says “Since I left in ‘87 for boot camp...from then to now, it’s changed dramatically.”
Mendez has purchased several vacant lots on Forbes Street.
“I’m trying to change the narrative and change the people’s perception of Amsterdam,” replied Mendez.
He wants to construct a 18-unit residential apartment building for military families.
“The bottom floor is going to be an office space for veterans to be able to talk to a counselor and the secondly there would be an office space to do computer work and a kitchen. Then there would be a communal space and then the other units are just going to be 2-3 bedrooms...standard 18 units for veterans,” explained Mendez.
Mendez called on another Amsterdam native, Tom Politi, to help with the project. Politi’s grandfather, who was an immigrant from Cuba, once owned one of the properties now owned by Mendez on Forbes Street.
The location of the proposed project has a special meaning to his high school sweetheart and wife, Tanya.
Tanya Lopez-Mendez, David’s wife, says “We used to come up here in the summers, before we moved up here permanently. So, a lot of my summertime memories of coming up when I was younger are here with all of my cousins, my tias, my primas...”
The project has even caught several lawmakers’ eyes.
(D) Angelo Santabarbara, says “I will be urging, calling on the governor to fund this project in the state budget. It’s a very big state budget, there are lots of funds to work with...this is one that’s worth while in supporting our veterans and our families.”
“I’m hoping by putting the families together...maybe now we could stop some of the issues before they start,” said Mendez.
For those who are interested in learning more about the project, Mendez is planning to invite members in the community to attend an informational meeting.
The meeting will be held Saturday, February 22nd.