NY Rising, the committee responsible in part for awarding money for reclamation in storm battered regions in our state, hosted a public presentation and comment session at the Creative Connections facility last Saturday, February 22nd. The Towns of Florida and Amsterdam and the City of Amsterdam are each eligible for up to $3,000,000 in funding to put toward projects that remedy storm related damages and foster economic development. A variety of projects such as reclaiming abandoned buildings in the city and repairing water damage along Route 5 were discussed.
Mayor Ann Thane explained the history of the NY Rising initiative:
“After we in the region experienced the devastation of the storms from 2011 and vast destruction from flood, then [in 2012] with Hurricane Sandy, and because of this trending towards more devastating storms, the Governor initiated NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program, which identifies priority projects for hazard mitigation, as well as the projects which are also linked to economic development.”
She went on to talk about the relocation of the train station:
“For us, things like moving the train station, which [has been] flooded, down toward downtown where we have a revitalization strategy, would be beneficial in both ways-you’re stopping the storm damage and you’re promoting an economic development project…It’s a big one for me, because it’s in our comprehensive plan, to move that train station back downtown. Again, we would be tackling a comprehensive plan goal, as well as tying this together with some of the new projects that are coming along, like the walkway.”
Also giving a presentation was Ted Kolankowski, a landscape architect with Barton & Loguidice, the Albany, NY firm doing a feasibility study on the Amsterdam River Walk. The River Walk is a proposal to turn land along the Mohawk River into multi-use recreational property.
Kolankowski talked about the planning process for the River Walk concept:
“We’ve been working on it for about 8 months now. There’s been a lot going on in the city, and we’ve had a couple of delays. We’re at the point now where we are going to be taking what we hear today and putting it into the mix with some of the thoughts the committees had, some of what we heard from the other public comment meeting, and some of the other ideas we’ve been generating, to develop a strategy to help us get this thing done.”
Being that the River Walk project would require additional funding beyond what NY Rising could provide, Kolankowsli suggested that various grants could be sought after, such as a Waterfront Revitalization grant from the Department of State, DOT grants, EPA or Parks grants.
“So there are a number of places to go [for funding] We’re also hoping to share the cost in the area where the railroad is losing some of its right-of-way. They’re going to need to stabilize and improve the resiliency of that piece of shoreline there.”
Kolankowski estimated the cost of the project to be slightly more than $1,000,000. He also talked about the benefit the River Walk will bring to the city:
“It adds a quality of life…It takes what is now not really an amenity to the inhabitants of the city, making some resiliency improvements to the shoreline while also accommodating recreational use, and I think that is important.”