ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Albany Police confirmed to NEWS10 that they are investigating three incidents on Lark Street.
According to Public Information Officer Megan Craft, these include a reported burglary at Savoy Taproom, a reported burglary at TapAsia, and a reported attempted burglary and criminal mischief at Yamaguchie.
The incidents were all reported between September 17th and 24th.
Savoy Taproom owner Jason Pierce said the recent break-in at his business serves to highlight the need for renewed efforts to address problems of mental health and drug addiction. Pierce believes there is a “strong likelihood” that the individual, who he said made off with a small amount of money and did some damage to the restaurant, “was one of those frequently seen on the streets these days early in the morning when the break-in occurred.”
“The reality is that the city of Albany and other cities across the United States are suffering from an epidemic problem with drug addiction and mental illness,” Pierce told NEWS10.
Pierce, and other business owners NEWS10 spoke with Monday said in addition to the incidents being investigated by police, they regularly encounter panhandlers and people sleeping on the streets.
“We need to see more done, and the reality is, we need to help the people that are suffering, number one,” Pierce said, “and we need to help the businesses to survive, as they’re seeing a massive reduction in business levels, and we need to make places like Albany better, safer place to visit and live.”
Last week, during an announcement of $1.8 million in combined county and city funding to expand mental health and other services, Mayor Kathy Sheehan acknowledged the concerns in the Lark Street neighborhood.
“Part of what the county found when they went and spoke to individuals experiencing homelessness, particularly in the Washington Park area and the Lark Street area, was that there was a high level of resistance to accessing those resources and that help,” Sheehan said.
Officials said the announcement of expanded programming, including for the ACCORD program and Mental Health Court, is the first step in addressing the mental health and homelessness issues.
“Through the Albany Restaurant Association, we’ve been calling upon the city, and the Albany Common Council, and the police department to do everything they can to try to address these issues,” Pierce said, “and I do believe we are seeing forward progress in a lot of arenas, but we need to see it faster.”
Natalie Warner, Owner and Chef of TapAsia told NEWS10 while she knows Lark Street is “a little edgy and a little gritty,” she accepts that, and loves the community. She added while in her eight years as a business owner on Lark she has “endured incidents of vandalism and harassment,” she has connected with the communities surrounding her business.
The incidents at TapAsia, Yamaguchie, and Savoy Taproom are all under investigation.