Sen. Joseph Bruno’s political career comes to an end today, with his resignation taking effect at midnight.
The senator had no public appearances scheduled, according to his spokesman, Kris Thompson. But the Rensselaer County Republican has been busy in the three weeks since he stepped down as Senate majority leader dispensing state funds to local projects.
Apparently the last of those appearances came Thursday, when Bruno announced that $6 million from the state Environmental Protection Fund, along with $2 million in local funds from the city of Troy, will be used “to expand and revitalize Troy’s Riverfront Park.”
More than half of the money, $4.7 million, will be used to get rid of City Hall, a modernist, concrete building with persistent structural problems that has presented a harsh visual contrast with the predominantly historic architecture of downtown Troy. It will be torn down and redeveloped into parkland with a 200-space underground parking garage. Troy leaders have not yet decided on where a future City Hall will be.
The plan also includes $500,000 to construct a Maritime Welcome Center for Hudson River boaters, providing them with showers, rest rooms and laundry facilities, along with an informational kiosk to encourage them to spend more time downtown.
A waterfront esplanade will be built for $750,000, reinforcing the existing sea wall and guard railing.
Improvements to the Ingalls Avenue boat launch will cost $1.05 million, including repairs to the launch, retaining wall, sidewalks, dock and fishing pier.
Improvements to the band shell and construction of a new amphitheater will cost $500,000.
Troy is the largest city in Bruno’s 43rd Senate District, and near his hometown of Brunswick. On Wednesday, he went to the largest city in Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs, also part of the district, and announced $6 million in state funding for the City Center expansion.
Other major projects announced by Bruno this month include a new freight rail yard in Mechanicville, and the move of Momentive Performance Materials’ headquarters from Wilton, Connecticut, to Rensselaer County.
But Bruno’s commitment to developing the Capital Region was never confined to his own district. His biggest recent announcement, at which he shared the stage with Gov. David Paterson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, was that the state is spending $140 million to induce IBM to invest $1.5 billion in nanotechnology upstate, much of it at the University at Albany.
The senator also announced the expansion of biomedical research at UAlbany’s East Campus in East Greenbush, and a new neonatal care unit at Albany Medical Center.
Bruno has cited the prospering of the Capital Region as a model for the rest of upstate New York — although the state may not be able to afford the amount of investment everywhere that the Senate leader directed here. Nor is it likely that this region will continue to get so much public money once Bruno departs.
Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, the last remaining legislative leader from the Capital Region, and a much less powerful one than Bruno, issued a statement Thursday paying tribute to his colleague. “When it counted the most, our Capital District could always count on Joe Bruno,” Tedisco said.
Meanwhile, several candidates are vying to replace the senator in this year’s elections. Bruno is backing Roy McDonald, who will face Ray Seney in a Republican primary. A Democratic primary also is expected, although objections have been filed to the petitions of two of the Democratic candidates, Joanne Yepsen and Mike Russo. If one or both of them survive that process, they will face endorsed Democratic candidate Brian Premo in a primary on Sept. 9.
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