River research center planned

A $15 million Hudson River environmental research facility will be built along the river in South Tr
Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, left, and Gov. David Paterson leave a news conference in Troy on Monday.
Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, left, and Gov. David Paterson leave a news conference in Troy on Monday.

A $15 million Hudson River environmental research facility will be built along the river in South Troy by 2010, state and local officials announced Monday.

Gov. David Paterson and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, held a news conference in Troy to announce that the state will provide $10 million in funding from the 2008-09 budget to pay for the construction costs of the Upper Hudson Research Center of the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries.

“This project represents technological innovation at its best for the tremendous benefit of education, science and the public, as well as environmental protection and conservation,” Bruno said. “Last week, we talked about investing in nanotech, this week it’s ‘Rivertech,’ and it will contribute greatly to the Capital Region’s growing worldwide reputation as a center for new technology while, at the same time, converting a blighted area into a beautiful spot for the public to enjoy the river.”

Beacon Institute Director John Cronin said his organization will now need to raise an additional $5 million to pay for the project.

“We’re confident the other $5 million will come,” Cronin said.

Cronin said the Beacon Institute, a nonprofit environmental research organization based in Dutchess County, has already raised $50 million since last summer when it made a joint announcement with IBM to create the first technology-based monitoring and forecasting network for a major American river and estuary.

Beacon Institute officials said the center, an 11,000-square-foot building, will be the “northern anchor” for its River and Estuary Observatory Network, known as REON.

REON seeks to enable “minute-to-minute” monitoring of the Hudson through the use of an integrated network of sensors, robotics and computer technology designed by IBM and distributed throughout the 315-mile river. According to officials, the system the Beacon Institute and IBM are designing will capture data with sensors that measure temperature, chemicals in the river including pollution as well as map fish populations using sound data enabling researchers to track particular fish species through radio “tagging.”

“This is the cutting edge of environmental research right now. Mostly, this kind of research goes on in the ocean. . . . What we are going to create is a wired integrated network throughout the river,” Cronin said. “The importance of this is that an ecosystem like the Hudson River changes daily. Research done today isn’t necessarily valid tomorrow. To have information in real time allows you to protect the river in real time.”

Once completed, the institute and IBM anticipate that the network will be replicated on other river systems, using the Hudson River valley as a model.

Cronin said approximately 100 people, most of them paid employees of the Beacon Institute, will work on the project, floating between the research center in Troy and another center in Beacon.

“Research institutions are blossoming throughout the upstate New York region because the area offers a hard-working, well-educated work force and an exceptional quality of life,” Paterson said. “The city of Troy has a proud history of harnessing the power of its waterfront and the plans to revitalize this important asset will guarantee the future of the Hudson River and its ecosystems.”

Bicycle trails, gardens, walkways and boat accommodations will be included as part of the research center in Troy.

“Long talked about riverfront revitalization is one step closer to happening today, and for that we are eternally grateful,” Troy Mayor Harry J Tutunjian said.

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