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Opinions mixed over street names at Mohawk Harbor

Opinions mixed over street names at Mohawk Harbor

The Galesi Group is building three streets — which will be city-owned — within the Mohawk Harbor sit
Opinions mixed over street names at Mohawk Harbor
As seen on Feb. 2, 2016, construction is underway on The Riverhouse apartments at Mohawk Harbor.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

The Galesi Group is building three streets — which will be city-owned — within the Mohawk Harbor site and is looking to name them Rush Street, Harborside Drive and Mohawk Harbor Way.

The City Council did not move the names out of committee on Tuesday evening. Councilman Vince Riggi said he believes naming a street after casino operator Rush Street Gaming is “pretentious.”

“Corporations change over the years, and this is something that’s lifelong,” Riggi said. “Maybe Rush Street will be no more in five years or 10 years. So I do have a concern about that one name.”

The Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor, which will be operated by Rush Street, is projected to open by March of next year, according to Rush Street CEO Greg Carlin. The foundation for the casino is in place, with steel starting to be erected.

The three roads will be built by Galesi and handed over to the city for maintenance, according to David Buicko, Galesi’s chief operating officer.

The city then would be responsible for the streets in terms of filling potholes, plowing snow and other services, City Engineer Chris Wallin said.

Councilwoman Marion Porterfield agreed with Riggi, saying she doesn’t feel comfortable naming a city street after the casino’s owner.

“If the corporation wants the name within their private property, that’s fine, as opposed to a city street,” she said.

Council President Leesa Perazzo said she doesn’t have a problem with the name.

“I think it’s a lovely welcoming street to the city,” she said. “It would help in terms of GPS.”

Perazzo and Mayor Gary McCarthy noted that the council could change the name in the future.

“We can rename the street if in fact there is a major change in structure or ownership,” McCarthy said.

Perazzo asked the council three times to move the request out of the public service and utilities committee, so there could be a vote at the next council meeting Monday, but Riggi and Porterfield stood by their concerns.

As a result, the council will discuss the street names again during its next committee meeting in two weeks.

Rush Street Gaming said Tuesday that it will work with the city to come up with an alternate street name.

“Rush Street is a very exciting location in the city of Chicago, renowned for its entertainment and fine dining options,” the operator said in a prepared statement. “We intend to bring that energy to the city of Schenectady with Rivers Casino and Resort.”

The proposed Rush Street would be an extension of Nott Street off of the future roundabout at the intersection of Nott and Erie Boulevard at the entrance to the Mohawk Harbor site.

The casino’s address then would be on Rush Street, rather than on Nott Street. That also would change the address of manufacturer STS Steel, which is located on the site.

The street also would be the location of the operator’s proposed 80-foot-tall pylon sign. The sign, with a 32-foot digital display, will be submitted for city Planning Commission approval in the near future as part of a signage package for the site.

Branching off of Rush Street and running the length of the site would be the proposed Harborside Drive, which would run parallel to Erie Boulevard within the site.

The last proposed street, Mohawk Harbor Way, would be a short street off of Harborside Drive. Mohawk Harbor Way would be an extension of Maxon Road across the street.

Before the committee meeting, Riggi also expressed concerns about the costs associated for the city to maintain the new roads.

“We will have to plow it, patch it and maintain it,” he said. “It will add to our infrastructure work. I’m not saying it shouldn’t happen. I asked way back what the costs were associated with this, but you only hear about the money being brought in.”

McCarthy said before the meeting that it’s standard practice for a developer to build the roads and then hand them over to the municipality. He noted that the city would be getting tax revenue from buildings on site.

The entire Harborside Drive would not be city-owned, Wallin said.

The portion of Harborside Drive from Rush Street to Mohawk Harbor Way would be city-owned, but from Mohawk Harbor Way to the end of the site would be private.

Wallin said that portion of Harborside Drive would not be the city's responsibility because of the difficulty of working around a cul de sac.

"That part is not public because we're not too familiar with the maintenance of those roads and they want to do parking there," he said. "It was a little too complicated to put on the city to maintain."

Galesi is requesting the approval of the street names before the Courtyard by Marriott hotel — which is being constructed now — opens its doors this fall.

Buicko said the roads within the site would be done by the fall. The 124-room hotel will be the first building to be completed on the site, followed by Galesi’s 204-unit apartment building, which also is being built now.

The $330 million Rivers casino was approved for a license by the state Gaming Commission in December. It will feature a 50,000-square-foot gaming floor with 1,150 slot machines, 63 table games and 15 poker tables.

The casino will have an adjacent 163-room hotel, which has not yet been named. The hotel is expected to be completed a few months after the casino.

Galesi’s development project also includes additional housing, such as condominiums and townhouses, office and retail buildings and a 50-boat-slip harbor. The site also will have biking and walking paths.

Meanwhile, construction of the roundabout at Nott and Erie will pickup again in March, Wallin said. The roundabout — the first in the city of Schenectady — is expected to be completed by July.

Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.

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