Amsterdam’s Urban Renewal Agency is looking for proposals to create and install three metal sculptures on the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge, which opened earlier this year and connects the city’s South Side neighborhood with the rest of Amsterdam across the Mohawk River.
The agency recently put out a request for proposals from artists that includes a $400,000 budget for the project. The agency’s notice said proposals will be reviewed and selected according to a competitive proposal process. They will also be judged on cost, as well as the artist’s technical skills, relevant experience and “artistic interpretation of the themes provided,” according to the RFP.
The MVGO bridge already has several artistic flourishes, including a raised compass design that pays homage to the area’s waterways, as well as decking engraved with historic motifs from Amsterdam and the surrounding area.
Nick Zabawsky, a consultant on the bridge project with the urban renewal agency, said funds for the project are coming from $650,000 in grants from the Department of State’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and the Department of Transportation. The departments chipped in $325,000 each.
The remaining $250,000 will eventually be put toward the installation of restrooms at the MVGO and possibly a visitors center, Zabawsky said.
He added that the proposals will be reviewed by an MVGO arts committee made up of local artists and area residents and officials, including Ann Thane, the former mayor.
“It’ll be up to the committee to judge what fits best with the overall concept of the Gateway Overlook keeping in mind the history and culture and the natural setting,” said Zabawsky, noting the committee kept language in the RFP intentionally open-ended. “They want a certain amount of latitude in terms of the proposal so people are free to be creative.”
Zabawsky said the committee held extensive discussions on how to allocate the grant money and decided $400,000 will be spent on the sculptures with the remaining $250,000 to be spent on the bathroom and a possible visitors center.
“Anybody that’s serious here is going to have to do some creative thinking and come up with a serious proposal,” he said.
Those interested in submitting proposals should contact the Amsterdam Urban Renewal Agency at 518-843-5190 or email [email protected] for a full RFP package. Proposals will be accepted until Jan. 16.
Zabawsky said he expects the committee to take at least a month to decide on a proposal, at which point it must be approved by the City Council and mayor. The committee’s proposal, which they hope to present in the spring, will include plans for the bathroom and possible visitors center, Zabawsky said.
“Once we have a comprehensive plan together, we’ll present it to the mayor and the City Council,” he said. “You need to give them something really specific for them to vote on.”
Mayor Michael Villa, who also sits on the MVGO arts committee, said they’re looking for proposals that are in keeping with the existing historical themes already present on the bridge.
“We want to be consistent, we don’t want eight different stories being told on the bridge,” said Villa. “We want it to remain consistent with what’s there, and the artists know that.”
He added that the committee is also mulling the possibility of installing two sculptures on the bridge instead of three, depending on the final design of a gate that has yet to be installed. The $400,000 budget for the sculpture portion of the project will remain unchanged regardless if two or three sculptures are installed, he said.