Montgomery County

Amsterdam Common Council OKs bridge contract

Amsterdam’s Common Council took an important step Wednesday toward making the Mohawk Valley Gateway

Amsterdam’s Common Council took an important step Wednesday toward making the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook a reality.

Representatives from the state Thruway Authority and Canal Corp. fielded several questions during a half-hour session aimed at lessening city officials’ concerns over what a maintenance contract for the $16.5 million park over the Mohawk River would mean for finances.

One sticking issue for 4th Ward Alderman David Dybas is a provision of the agreement between the city and the state requiring confidentiality.

Dybas said the city of Amsterdam doesn’t have a confidentiality policy and he was concerned with how the city might act as it relates to confidential information.

Joseph P. Igoe, assistant counsel at the Thruway Authority, said the agency is simply asking that any detailed blueprints or other documents marked “confidential” be kept that way.

“Before 9/11, we didn’t have to worry about this,” said Michael Shamma, acting engineer at the Thruway Authority.

Fifth Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero asked if the city would have to procure additional insurance to protect workers, but the city already has insurance through Montgomery County, Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis said.

“The county plan meets the standard of that requirement,” DeCusatis said.

Following questions, the Common Council ultimately brought the agreement back off the table and, with a vote of 3-1, approved it.

Dybas voted “no” because he doesn’t have all the documents — including those that would detail any Thruway Authority/Canal Corp. confidentiality provisions.

Robert von Hasseln, the city’s Community and Economic Development director, described the Common Council’s approval as an important step in the city’s work to improve the city’s downtown area. The Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook — a pedestrian bridge with a park on it — will lead to the downtown area.

“We kept a key component on track today,” von Hasseln said.

He said as time draws closer to the fall start of construction, the lack of a maintenance contract with the Canal Corp./Thruway Authority could have threatened some of the key elements of the ornate structure.

As each month passes, von Hasseln said the cost of construction would continue to rise with inflation. The state’s voters in 2005 approved only $16.5 million for the bridge, and more can’t be spent, he said.

The cost of maintaining the bridge — another issue of contention among some council members — pales in comparison to the economic benefits, von Hasseln said.

“I think this is going to bring in millions of dollars a year,” von Hasseln said, referring to a boost in the city’s sales tax revenues shared by Montgomery County.

The two-year construction project is expected to be complete in 2015.

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