So let's get this straight.
The city of Amsterdam is getting $1 million in state taxpayer money designated for waterfront improvements to put murals on a pedestrian bridge within city limits?
And Assemblymen Angelo Santabarbara is not only OK with that, but helped push through the money? In the process, the city is rejecting a $325,000 local economic development grant that it could have matched to help pay for the murals?
If you want to talk dysfunction in Albany, don't look at the Silvers and the Skeloses. Look at this kind of wasteful, myopic spending.
Amsterdam is down and out. It surely can use a financial pick-me-up from the state. So it finally gets one, and this is the way officials decide to spend it?
If New York is ever going to get its financial affairs in order and bring down taxes, it's going to have to stop doing stuff like giving a million dollars for murals on a pedestrian bridge.
Local officials point to the railroad bridge over the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie to show that their investment isn't so far-fetched. But this ain't that. The Poughkeepsie bridge is the longest footbridge in the world, is a national historic landmark and is over 200 feet high, offering visitors uniquely spectacular views. Amsterdam will still get its $16 million "overlook." Does it really need $1 million in state-funded bling on top of that?
Given the threat to waterfronts by storms and flooding, wouldn't this million dollars of state waterfront money be better spent helping mitigate damage elsewhere?
In the historic Stockade in Schenectady, for example, they're so desperate to save the 300-year-old neighborhood that they're talking about raising entire streets. In Schoharie County, they have to move their jail to higher ground because of what the next tropical storm might do.
Surely Amsterdam could use $1 million to improve its economy in ways other than for a speculative venture like this. Maybe demolition and restoration of abandoned properties, or crime prevention, or tax breaks for investors, or more playgrounds. (This is the city that banned streetside basketball hoops, after all.)
When a state has much higher priorities for its tax dollars, such as vehicle bridges that are actually in danger of collapsing, decorating a municipal walkway of dubious economic value is a luxury New York taxpayers simply can't afford.