SCHENECTADY — Mayor Gary McCarthy and Galesi Group CEO David Buicko will co-chair the committee that will oversee the city’s implementation of a $10 million state Downtown Redevelopment Initiative grant, it was announced on Friday.
The 16-member committee whose membership was announced on Friday includes many of the city’s established government and economic development leaders, as well as business people, and the presidents of the two colleges located in the city.
“It’s a cross-section of stakeholders and folks who have a commitment to the downtown area, employers, people from neighborhoods,” said Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, which will be the DRI’s local coordinator. “It’s a good cross-section of the area between Mohawk Harbor and State Street, which is the focus area.”
The Local Planning Committee will guide the spending of the grant announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month at Proctors, the state’s fourth round of annual downtown revitalization funding.
State guidelines require that the co-chairs be a top elected official or their designee and a member of the state’s Regional Economic Development Council, which guides funding for the state’s 10 economic development regions.
Buicko, while the leader of a prominent development company that is behind Mohawk Harbor and other projects in the city and region, is also a member of the Capital Region Economic Development Council.
The panel will hold its first meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17 in the Lally Mohawk Room in Elston Hall at SUNY Schenectady.
SUNY Schenectady President Steady Moono is a member of the committee, as is Union College President David Harris.
But there’s also a “who’s who” of the city’s most prominent leaders. The membership includes Gillen, who is also the county’s economic development and planning director, and Philip Morris, who as CEO of Proctors is one of the Capital Region’s arts community leaders. Morris is also a member of the Regional Economic Development Council.
Also serving on the committee will be Jim Salengo, executive director of the Downtown Business Improvement Corp.; Robert Leonard, vice president of Trustco Bank; Stacy Rowland, vice president and general counsel of Rivers Casino & Resort; and Mark Eagan, president and CEO of the Capital Region Chamber.
Residents and business people on the committee include Mary Ann Ruscitto of the East Front Street Neighborhood Association.; Maria Papa, owner of More Perreca’s in Little Italy; Mary D’Allesando-Gilmore, an real estate associate broker from the Stockade neighborhood; and Mitch Ramsey, owner of the Jay Street Pub.
From local non-profits come Mike Saccocio, executive director of the City Mission, which trains some homeless people to be downtown “ambassadors,” and Marcy Steiner, executive director of the Foundation for Ellis Medicine.
Gillen said the names and interests they represent have been approved by officials at Empire State Development, which will oversee administration of the grant, and the state will remain involved throughout the process.
The funding is expected to allow the city to accelerate long-planned connector projects designed to integrate downtown with the Mohawk Harbor area. Big ticket construction projects described as “shovel-ready” include a dock at Mohawk Harbor and the proposed Capital Region Aquatic Center, a $30 million project located at the same riverfront complex.
Schenectady’s DRI application also contains a concept for a 100,000-square-foot retail and entertainment complex to be located between Rivers Casino & Resort and the marina bordering the riverfront.
Numerous other projects have been flagged as possible funding recipients. Those include unspecified developments behind Proctors and along Clinton Street, as well as a proposed mixed-use project on Erie Boulevard at the site of the former Pentagon restaurant and Sears buildings, spearheaded by the same developers behind the Electric City Apartments.
“The process now is to invite the public in and look at more projects,” Gillen said. “It’s a very public process with a lot of public input, looking at economic development and job creation potential.”
There is a project website at schenectadydri.com.