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See how the proposed bridge artwork tells the history of Amsterdam

Perhaps you were wondering, like me, what the historical markers being proposed for the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge are supposed to look like. I asked Community and Economic Development Director Robert von Hasseln if he could provide some additional details. He sent me a number of pictures and paragraphs that helped paint a clearer picture of the concept he has been working on.

There are twenty markers in the plan. Eight of the markers would be mounted on the railings and include actual historical photographs of various Amsterdam neighborhoods. The remaining markers would appear on concrete flower containers and would highlight various aspects of the city’s history such as the early settlers, the Erie Canal, and factories.

Here are the pictures and accompanying text for each of the eight neighborhood markers. You can click any image to enlarge it.

Here is a map showing the location of each marker along the bridge, with a few examples of the graphics and text that would accompany the other “cast labels”. Also included in the gallery are additional photos and renderings to show how the designs would integrate with the bridge.

The main construction of the bridge has been paid for by a 2005 New York State Transportation Bond Act. However, some of the artistic elements originally planned for the bridge were removed in order to offset rising construction costs which would have put the project over budget. The city received a $325,000 grant from NY State in December 2014 to complete the artwork, however the grant requires matching funds from the city.

So far, the Amsterdam Common Council has not included matching funds for the project in their tentative list of capital projects. The council could vote as early as this Wednesday to approve borrowing for capital projects. According to von Hasseln, some of the elements will be more costly, or even impossible to add after construction of the bridge is complete later this year.

On Tuesday, von Hasseln will hold two public presentations at City Hall in the council chambers about the potential economic benefits of the proposed artwork.The first presentation will be at 10:00am, and the second at 6:30pm.

Supporters of the proposed bridge artwork have started an online petition to ask the Common Council to fund the matching grant. The petition can be viewed here.

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About Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of AnthemWebsites.com LLC which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.

13 Responses to See how the proposed bridge artwork tells the history of Amsterdam

  1. Tim that part of the plan along with the Wheel of Life sculpture, myself and many other people do not find objectionable. It is the other planned sculptures that were approved for the bridge that are over the top both in form and price that bring the total amount to over $2,000,000. The artwork, according to Rob von Hasseln was selected by the Canal Corporation who expect taxpayers to fund. The City knew in 2013 that the entire project was over budget, that there was no money for the “extras”. The fact that our citizens, other than Paul Tonko, Ann Thane and Rob von Hasseln had no input on the art projects for the bridge but now have to pay for it, is outrageous. The fact that Mayor Ann Thane put the artwork on top of the city’s priority list for NYS consolidated grant award, ahead of small job creating businesses, is just selfish. This overlook bridge will be just as popular without the other outrageously expensive art projects, no matter how the Economic Director wants to spin it. There are no facts to back up his argument that the presence of the added artwork will draw tens of thousands more in revenue each year. The art work: “One World” stainless sphere $450,000., “Reunion” 8ft female figure $650,000. ,”Wheel of Life” $325,000., “Compass” -no price listed on the fact sheet I was given last year.

    • Tim Becker says:

      Just to be clear, the $650,000 cost includes the historic markers, engravings on the deck, lettering on the bridge, the Compass and Wheel of Life designs. It does not include the “One World” and “Reunion” sculptures.

      I should be able to provide a breakdown of the various costs after the presentation tomorrow.

      • Tim, the cost of each piece of artwork I listed is accurate. I have the documentation to prove it if you are interested.

      • Tim Becker says:

        I didn’t say you were inaccurate on anything. The two sculptures you mentioned aren’t part of this $650,000 project, that’s all I was was saying.

  2. That goes back to the question of just who decides what artwork IS going on the bridge. If what Rob von Hasseln told us on WCSS last Saturday is true, that the NYS Canal Corporation decided, then when and who scrapped the other artwork from the project? Initially it was ALL excluded from the project because of the cost. Who submitted the NYS Consolidated fund grant for the artwork and what was listed in the grant?

  3. Here’s the FACT: the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council Executive Board prioritized the selection of proposals that would receive funding. I was not even in the room because I am an ex-officio, elected official with a very well-known bias for our community. I have a seat at the table and get to participate in the strategic planning for our region but do not get to vote in this process.

    The design of this bridge was chosen after several public forums and surveys were offered to garner the opinion of the constituency and the curved garden design was first pick. The cost overages were not known when the bid package went out. Once the costs came in, certain elements like the overlooks and statuary on both sides of the river were taken out of the design becasue they could be revisitied at a later date but critical elements considered necessary for the success of the project were kept in. The city applied for these elements hoping to get a full award from the state from three different sources of funding. We only received one. We’ve been trying since then to find the money necessary to complete this as envisioned but are on such a tight deadline because construction is well under way. We will lose this opportunity if we don’t seize the day now.

    It would be “selfish” of me to apply for and promote a project that I would benefit from personally. This is not the case. I fight for the City of Amsterdam, period.

    It’s sickening that the political divide that exists in this city decides this fate. We should be thinking of future generations and not the drama du jour when casting these dice.

  4. Donna L Dickerson says:

    Ron von Hasseln posted on face book and I Quote 4 Key Elements 1) Wheel of Life $324,000.00 2) One World $450,000.00 3) 8 foot female Bronze on Granite Base $650,000.0 4) Compass no Cost Listed He
    did not say anything about photos or 20 markers and Flower Containers. The cost of just these three are $1,425,000.00. The Grant from New York is $325,000.00 even if matched that is only $650,000.00 where
    does the other money come from for the $1,425,000.00 ??? That does not count the cost of The Compass,
    20 Markers, Flowers, Containers and Photos??????????????? With $650,000.00 you can only get the 8′
    female Bronze on Granite Base. I see a major problem. Change the Art work why does it need to cost so
    Much?????????????

    • Tim Becker says:

      The compass, Wheel of Life, deck engraving, history markers, and the lettering on the bridge cost a total of $650,000. The grant was for half of that – $325,000. The other two most expensive statues are not covered by the grant, they are not part of this project.

    • Donna, “One World” and the 8′ statue have been eliminated from this project. They or other artistic expressions may be considered at a later date (and there have been several really good ideas for statuary bandied about lately.) The $650K will pay for the decking (pressed, textured, colored concrete with inscriptions), “Wheel of Life” mosaic, “Compass” (also known as the Story mark), and the brass lettering (AMSTERDAM) on the girders below the bridge. If we don’t get the match, these elements cannot be included in the construction process and we will lose them all because the state won’t give $325K without a match.

  5. skip says:

    Why don’t you as Mayor do something with that money. Maybe fix the streets in Amsterdam, they haven’t changed in five years.

  6. Monica Arias Miranda says:

    Wondering what the City is doing to make “pretty” the E. Main St. area as there are many closed businesses and boarded ip houses there.

    A pretty bridge is nice but, What type of trainings are available to folks for starting their own businesses (it is my understanding that there are none? How are graduation rates for minorities in the City being increased? what about the large percentage of poverty in the City? and job opportunities?

    • Tim Becker says:

      The way I see it, blight, poverty, poor graduation rates, etc, are symptoms of the poor economy and lack of opportunity. The city will be borrowing 500k to demolish properties, and has received funding for 500k through the land bank to re-hab properties. But these only address the symptoms, not the root problems. An attraction like the bridge will bring in foot traffic that retailers and restaurants need to grow. Economic growth brings more jobs which brings more economic stability which leads to more stable families that provide a better environment for students, and allow homeowners and responsible landlords to better maintain their properties.

      There’s absolutely no guarantee that the bridge will bring about these things alone, but I see it as an important part of solving the overall economic problems of the region by building on one of our natural assets (the river) which should ultimately help the issues you have cited.

      I just posted a story on the economic case for the bridge and the additional artwork here.

  7. I hope Monica reads the follow up article about our community to understand this aspect of our revitalization strategy: http://mohawkvalleycompass.com/2015/06/von-hasseln-makes-economic-case-for-bridge-artwork/

    The bridge is just one component to tackling longstanding problems that all Upstate communities grapple with. We’re working with surrounding communities to develop a code enforcement module that will allow us to share important information across municipal lines to combat blight. We’re partnering with Schenectady in a land bank initiative to rehabilitate neighborhoods. We’re working closely with the school district, BOCES, HUD and FMCC to provide educational opportunities to those in need and identify new avenues of support for workers and families. We’re actively pursuing strategic planning with divergent constituencies to update the city’s comprehensive plan.

    I’m chomping at the bit to meet with Monica because of her recent interest in our community. I am hopeful that the Hispanic Coalition will be another new partner in this battle for our future. We can certainly use all of the help we can get.