A spate of small, quick projects are set to bring better lighting, fresh sidewalks and more handicap accessibility to downtown Schenectady.
The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority approved nearly $135,000 in downtown fix-up improvements at its monthly board meeting Wednesday, and agreed to seek a state grant that would help finish an environmental cleanup of the Broadway South parking lot. The work is expected to be complete in October, just in time for a busy Proctors season.
“These improvements will make it easier for downtown visitors to enjoy Proctors and all of the other assets downtown,” Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said in a news release.
The board approved $19,500 in sidewalk improvements on the east side of North Broadway to complete a project designed to connect the Proctors block with lower Union Street. The aging sidewalk on the opposite side of North Broadway was recently replaced.
In the same corridor, Metroplex will invest $61,150 to replace nine streetlights that are outdated. The new lights will match the decorative style of the green ones downtown.
Existing curbs and crosswalks along State Street near Proctors are good, said Gillen, but a quick improvement project will make them “optimal” for individuals with disabilities. So the board approved $10,000 in funding for new curb cuts and handicap-accessible ramps in front of Proctors. On nearby Broadway, Metroplex will also work with the new city engineer to install improved handicap accessibility at the crosswalk between Stratton Plaza and the Metroplex garage.
“We’ll be making some real enhancements to the sidewalk and crossing there, so that it’s even more visible,” said Gillen. “It’s very, very busy there. The garage has 1,100 people coming in and out, so that crosswalk will become a state-of-the-art crossing with better curb cuts that take it to the next level.”
A project to install energy-efficient lighting at the Metroplex garage received the green light from the board. The decision was an easy one, agreed board members, since the project will reduce energy costs by half.
Metroplex will invest $44,000 and National Grid will provide $107,465 to install the LED lighting. With annual energy costs currently at about $100,000, Gillen expects Metroplex will recover its investment in less than a year.
“National Grid continues to be a great partner in our redevelopment efforts,” he said. “We appreciate their support for energy-saving and money-saving lighting upgrades in the garage.”
On Wednesday night, the board submitted an application to the state Department of Environmental Conservation for an Environmental Restoration program grant that would help fund cleanup of the municipal parking lot at Broadway and Clinton Street.
If approved, Metroplex expects to receive $315,000 and would provide its own $35,000 match to finish remediation on the last section of the lot, near the site of a manufactured gas plant in the late 1800s.
Redevelopment of the South Broadway parking lot includes replacing soil underneath a new coat of pavement and installing granite curbs, concrete sidewalks and lighting.
The lot is currently fenced off, but is nearing completion.
“The DEC invited and encouraged us to apply,” said Gillen. “So if we get the paperwork in I’m confident they will work with us to clean up this last piece of Broadway, which is already cleaning up very nicely.”