Public’s vision sought for Amsterdam pedestrian bridge

Saturday, August 11, 2012
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— When Amsterdam’s new pedestrian bridge is spanning the Mohawk River, city officials want it to tell a story.

The $16.5 million walkway to connect the city’s South Side with its downtown may draw people by the hundreds just to view the spectacle, and residents are being asked to help shape what those guests will see.

The city is holding a visioning session Monday evening to gather ideas on how to showcase local history on the deck of the bridge.

“We were the door to the western expansion, and our history reflects Native American history, early settlements, then the Revolutionary War,” Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane said.

Industrialization, post-industrialization and waves of immigration from different regions are all pieces of the city’s past and present, all elements she said could weave an interesting tale.

“It could really be fascinating.”

The bridge’s deck could feature 12 or 15 medallions — but what they’ll say or show is still a question for residents, Thane said.

“Do they want to see a chronological depiction of events in Amsterdam, do they want to see the many ethnic cultures that have come through the city?” she said.

A particular sculpture may be appropriate, or a quote that can be etched in the cement, she added.

The bridge has been a project on the mind of U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, a city native who helped push the proposal when he served as a state assemblyman. Tonko said in a statement the bridge’s story is important.

“I believe our challenge here is clear. We, together as a community, need to determine the expression of heritage and history that will be woven into our Amsterdam Pedestrian Bridge,” he said. “This is a golden opportunity to show future generations that we respected and revered the people and natural surroundings that built us. Our ‘power of place,’ replete with rich history, forever defines, nurtures and sustains us.”

Voters approved dedicating $16.5 million in funding for the bridge in a transportation bond act, but it’s unclear precisely how much it will cost, according to R.W. Groneman, a spokesman for the state’s Thruway Authority and its subsidiary Canal Corp.

He said permit applications will be submitted next month to the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The project is expected to be put out for bids in the fall of 2013, Groneman said. Construction is expected to take about two years, he said.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Monday in the Amsterdam High School cafeteria.

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August 11, 2012
9:52 a.m.
FrankLowe says...

Another colossal waste of money brought to us by Paul Tonko. Exactly what economic purpose does this bridge to nowhere serve? 16.5 million was "approved" but it's "unclear" how much this boondoggle will actually cost. This is a clear cut example of insignificant politicians building monuments to themselves with taxpayers dollars. Tonko and Joe Bruno were made from the same mold

August 11, 2012
12:11 p.m.
robbump says...

The story it will tell is that of a 16.5 million dollar white elephant that attracts many people from within 20-40 miles around ONE TIME and then most of them never return. Those that do return frequently are using the advantage a a relatively great view of any approaching police to smoke dope, drink, and use other drugs.

The cheerleaders for this waste will cite the RiverWalk inPoughkeepsie, but fail to mention that at least THAT project was already built, and merely renovated. They will fail to notice that the Hudson is a much wider, more beautiful view. They will fail to acknowledge that a lot of the traffic is people using it to get across the river free while going to the Metro-North rail station in order to get to jobs in NYC, while Amsterdam's Amtrak is no commuter draw.

Amsterdam needs a lot of help; I favor assisting them. This is a waste that will become an albatross around their neck.

August 11, 2012
3:33 p.m.
jerryrock says...

It really doesn't matter what the naysayers think. That phase of the project has long since passed. The project was approved and is moving forward. The input needed now is what extras, if any, should be installed on this extension of Riverlink Park. How much more should taxpayers spend on this project?

In Amsterdam, it seems we reflect on our history often and live a little too much in the past. We have the Walter Elwood Museum, the installation of the Panted Rocks in Riverlink Park to commemorate the Mohawks; that would be the Native Americans, not the ball team. We have Shuttleworth Park dedicated to them! We also have the Noteworthy Indian Museum and the Sanford home that serves as City Hall.

Our elected officials hold these public meetings because they are required by law or to further their political agenda. All too often in Amsterdam, the public comes out to these events, voices their opinions and they are completely ignored by Mayor Ann Thane who does exactly what she wants despite objection by the citizens. It is puzzling why public officials would wonder why turnout to these events is low.

That being said (I really hate that expression), The bridge/walkway/park should reflect Amsterdam's present. It should reflect the community that lives here now, working to better the City. It should represent our diverse cultural makeup of Latino, Italian, Polish, Irish, German and Chinese. It should have bike and skateboard paths, benches and water fountains. It should be more utilitarian than decorative or commemorative. It should serve our purpose here and now. We have enough reminders of our industrialized past that polluted the same waterway this bridge will overlook. It should represent hope.

Gerald J Skrocki

August 14, 2012
5:45 p.m.
robbump says...

Reflecting Amsterdam's present, will it have "No Buddhists Welcome" signs and a few buildings with the plumbing torn out? That's the present Amsterdam we all know and .. er .. we know.

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