It may be now or never for street project on Amsterdam’s South Side

Plans to rebuild Bridge Street on Amsterdam’s South Side could be eliminated altogether if the city

Plans to rebuild Bridge Street on Amsterdam’s South Side could be eliminated altogether if the city doesn’t act this year to borrow money and spend state and federal grants, officials said Tuesday.

The Finance Committee of Amsterdam’s Common Council reviewed a breakdown of the roughly $2 million project and heard that if it isn’t done this year, it might not happen at all.

The South Side project, in the planning stages for several years, calls for resurfacing Bridge Street, replacing sidewalks and adding historic-looking streetlights, among other details.

But the city would have to borrow $802,000 to get the job done, and funding sources, including the state Department of Transportation and the state’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal, could pull the grant funding at the end of this year, Mayor Ann Thane said.

“This is our last shot at doing Bridge Street,” Thane said.

Both 1st Ward Alderman Joseph M. Isabel and 4th Ward Alderman William Wills questioned an effort to bury utility lines and removing poles as part of the project — a detail that comes with an additional cost of $915,000.

Greg Ursprung, a representative of The Saratoga Associates consulting firm organizing the project, said part of the grant funding could be eliminated if the city decides to forego burying utility lines.

The lines are ugly too, he said.

“I think they’re really an eyesore,” Ursprung said.

Despite the cost, Wills said the grant funding currently available — about $1.2 million — makes it a good opportunity to improve the look of the city’s South Side.

The Bridge Street project is one of several on a list of roughly $2.9 million in capital projects currently on the table, City Controller Heather Reynicke said.

And the decision will come at a time when the Common Council is trying to whittle away at a $1.2 million shortfall in a $25 million budget draft being circulated for discussion.

The council members appeared to agree they’ll wait until more details on the budget are available before deciding to go forward with borrowing money. Thane said she would contact the state agencies to see if the city has any options, such as claiming a hardship, to preserve the grant funding.

The budget picture as it stands is likely to change as well because the city apparently neglected to include a line item in this year’s budget to provide support for the Amsterdam Free Library.

The draft budget didn’t include any money for the library whatsoever, and Thane said Corporation Council Gerard DeCusatis learned there’s an old agreement that requires the city to support the library.

The library received $83,000 in the current year’s budget. The Walter Elwood Museum, however, has a tentative appropriation of $10,000 in the draft budget for the next year.

“It’s tough times here . . . why would we not fund the library and fund the museum?” 5th Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero said.

The aldermen agreed to replace the $83,000 with the understanding they’ll revisit the funding line and decide exactly how much money the library may receive.

The committee agreed to ask city department heads to trim their budget requests down to an increase of no more than 3 percent and slated budget meetings for March 29 and 30.

Categories: Schenectady County

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