Federal, state and local officials announced Sunday they have secured $1 million to fund artistic elements on the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook, effectively ending a debate that has raged in the Common Council over the last several months.
If the funding hadn’t been secured by Tuesday, the mural for the $16.5 million pedestrian bridge was in jeopardy of never being completed.
Some Republican council members were wary about using the city’s money to fund the mural and had planned to vote against a resolution to fund the artwork.
Issues surrounding the bridge — and its construction — have become politicized in the city, with Democrats repeatedly throwing their support behind waterfront revitalization and Republicans unsure the bridge will have a positive impact on the local economy.
But some city officials anticipate the bridge will attract tens of thousands of visitors to the region, generate millions in local spending and create new jobs.
The full price tag to decorate the bridge is $1 million. The city had received a $325,000 grant from the Mohawk Valley Economic Development Council, but the city would have had to cover the rest of the cost. The city can now work with the regional council to find a new use that $325,000.
The artwork includes a ripple design along the deck that will mimic the view of the water and incorporate two circular plazas branching out from the main deck of the curvy, 475-foot span. The plazas will provide a bird’s-eye view of boats traversing the river and Erie Canal below, and an open space in the center will be large enough to accommodate performances. Once that is completed, several other artistic elements are expected to be included in the bridge.
“Investing in the completion of the bridge is a critical part of the ongoing recovery and bright future here, which is why I fought hard to secure this funding. A project like this can jump start development, as we have done with the revitalization of Schenectady, and I’m confident that this unique regional destination will attract additional investments for the entire area,” said state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam. “In Amsterdam, with the improvements to the waterfront and continuous development of downtown, we have seen the importance of taking pride in what we’re building for future generations and this bridge will stand as the centerpiece of those efforts.”
After the funding shortfall for the pedestrian bridge was identified, Santabarbara began working with local officials and state agencies to secure the necessary funding. The $1 million in funding to decorate the bridge comes from a pool of available state funds allocated specifically for waterfront projects, like the pedestrian bridge.
“This project culminates years of hard work and promise,” Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane said. “The city of Amsterdam is very grateful to Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara for ensuring that the project is complete and will serve the community to its greatest benefit.”
More from The Daily Gazette: