Residents in Amsterdam got another chance to weigh in Tuesday on their favorite design for the $17 million foot bridge project to connect the north and south sides of the city.
The state Canal Corp., which is the lead agency on the project, held its second public information session at Amsterdam High School to lay out options for the new “Park on the River.”
With plans to develop parks on both ends of the bridge and hopes to build another foot bridge from the downtown area, Congressman Paul Tonko said he sees the state-funded work as an important first step.
“All of the public sector investment, I think will set the tone for private investment,” said Tonko, who expects cafes, banquet houses and services for boaters and bicyclists to follow the bridge’s completion, tentatively scheduled for 2015.
If all permits are obtained, construction is expected to begin in 2012.
The bridge is the largest element of Canal Corp. projects out of $50 million approved in the New York Sate Rebuild and Renew Transportation Bond Act.
“We see this as economic development to not just the city but to the entire canal,” Canal Corp. Director Carmella Mantello said.
Saratoga Associates designer Eric Whiting provided an overview of the three designs during Tuesday’s meeting. All of the options would include a large, open space in the center of the bridge for performances, in addition to landscaping and designs that highlight Amsterdam’s history. One option would mean a straight bridge, the second has a curve in it and the third has two curves.
The city is gearing up for roadway redevelopment at Bridge Street on the south side and the massive former Chalmers Knitting mill is soon to be demolished.
Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane said the Chalmers demolition will make roughly 17 acres available for development, and she believes the bridge will help draw developers to the area.
Residents at Tuesday’s meeting had various thoughts and concerns. One questioned if there would be bathroom facilities on the bridge, which are not currently elements of the plans.
Resident Dan McConville said he isn’t behind the idea at all. “Seventeen million could be spent on other areas in the city,” he said.
A man who didn’t want his name in the paper said he saw the bridge as a “positive thing” and felt the city was lucky to land funding for it. “It’s a good thing for Amsterdam.”
Renderings of the new bridge’s designs can be viewed on the city’s Web site at http://www.amsterdamny.gov/news/, there, residents can vote on their favorite design.
Public hearings are expected to be scheduled in the future as the project goes through the permitting process.