The Amsterdam Common Council met for a special meeting on Wednesday evening to vote on three resolutions including one sponsored by Mayor Ann Thane to authorize the borrowing of $325,000 to match a grant from New York State to fund the construction of artwork and historical markers on the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge.
Supporters of the initiative to borrow the funds met outside City Hall before the meeting and filled the council chambers during the meeting.
The first resolution was to override Thane’s veto of a previous resolution which would prohibit the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course from charging a fee for visitors to ride on a course member’s own cart. The resolution override was passed unanimously. The second resolution was to override the mayor’s veto of a previous resolution to request NY State legislators to sponsor a bill permitting the city to make a one-time transfer from the sewer fund balance to the general fund balance. The override was passed 4-1 with Alderwoman Valerie Beekman casting the no vote.
During discussion on the third resolution, which would authorize borrowing to match the state grant, Alderman Rich Leggiero offered to compromise by borrowing for roughly half the amount, or $165,000.
After Leggiero suggested the compromise, Alderman Ron Barone motioned to “call the question.” Under Robert’s Rules for Order, which govern council proceedings per the city code, the motion would end debate on the resolution and require an immediate vote. The motion requires a two-thirds majority to pass. The motion failed with a 3-2 vote, with Beekman and Leggiero casting the no votes.
Leggiero then suggested that the “Wheel of Life” mosaic be removed from the project, which would decrease the total cost of the project by $257,620. Barone then motioned to table the resolution. The motion was approved 3-2 with Leggiero and Beekman casting the no votes. The meeting was then adjourned.
The next regular council meeting is on Tuesday, June 16. Previously, Community and Economic Development Director Robert von Hasseln said that the deadline to approve funding for the engraved decking for the pedestrian bridge is June 15. Thane said after the meeting that she would contact the construction company working on the pedestrian bridge to see if the deadline could be extended.
Mayoral candidate Michael Villa, who attended the meeting, said afterward that he supports efforts to enhance the pedestrian bridge and the south side, however he did not agree with borrowing to fund the additions to the bridge given the ongoing work to reconcile the city’s financial records.
“It’s here, we have to make it work,” Villa said in regards to the bridge, “but this should have been presented way before we got to this point, now we’re all scrambling.”
Villa criticized both the mayor and council for lack of leadership and communication on the issue, but said “the buck stops with the mayor.”