Comments by dagiacalone
Posted on September 10 at 8:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)
Thanks should go to the Gazette editorial page for raising this issue, and helping to preserve the eastern view. Sadly, the more majestic "natural" view is on the western side of the bridge. Local and state elected officials must look into the "design-build" process to assure that important design factors -- aesthetic and environmental -- are discussed openly and publicly and assurances given on important issues prior to giving a design-build contract.
The Governor says that design-build saves money and inconvenience, but we need to know how just how much time was saved with the concrete wall, when there are many approved see-through railing designs available, and how any such savings compares to forever losing a valuable scenic vista. In addition, we need to ask whether the contractor saved the State or itself any added expense.
Every river bridge shown on the websites of the contractor and architect has a see-through railing. When they decided Schenectady and Scotia travelers -- and our grandchildren -- could do without the scenic vistas of the Mohawk, we were robbed of a valuable regional asset. I would certainly endure the extra time it might take to re-do the westside railing in order to regain that treasured view.
Posted on September 8 at 8:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)
See the winning art at the Stockade Outdoor Art Show here:
Posted on August 31 at 9:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)
Thank you for giving this topic the serious treatment it deserves.
The kind of "million dollar views" that are so highly sought after by the wealthiest members of our society have long been available to anyone crossing the Western Gateway Bridge as part of their commute to and from work. Protecting and preserving such scenic views is an important element in the State's Environmental Impact Review process, especially when a project involves construction of a structure that permanently alters a scenic view in a negative way. Because the significant views are eliminated by the new railings, this can not be deemed a mere rehab project that can proceed without a hard look at the environmental impact.
It is particularly important under SEQRA that these beautiful views are not only permanently blocked, but also that the negative impact can so easily be mitigated by the use of readily-available see-through railings that meet all safety standards, and whose additional cost is minor in comparison to the incalculable loss of inspiring and every-changing views. (For example, see-through, pour-in-place concrete railings that economically meet all safety requirements.)
Two-thirds of the railings presented in the authoritative AASHTO-ARTBA-AGC Bridge Railing Guide are see-through, and over 20 of them are considered to be both see-through and aesthetic. A suitable railing could surely be found from that list for the Western Gateway Bridge. In addition, as can be seen in examples across the globe, see-through railings also make views of the bridge more pleasing. For more info see the Federal Highway Administration webpage on bridge railings:
Kubricky Construction Corp. of Wilton and VHB Engineering, Surveying, & Landscaping Architecture of Albany are partners on the Western Gateway Bridge project. My quick look found that every one of the bridge projects over rivers and creeks on the Kubricky and VHB sites has see-through railings. There is clearly no significant safety hazard caused by vista rubbernecking on the Bridge.
The notion of design-build projects seems to flaunt the spirt of our environmental review laws and of the various Mohawk River revitalization projects. The process is more like "build-design," in that construction is allowed to begin before the complete design is known and before public officials and the interested members of the public are alerted to potential negative effects. This leaves far less room for public input over the environmental impact of a proposed bridge or bridge rehabilitation. Here, we had no chance to react to the concrete railing walls until the damage was done.
You are right to ask Who Killed the View, but perhaps the most pressing question is Who Lost the View, or Who Could Have Saved It. And, of course, How Can We Get It Back?
Posted on July 26 at 1:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)
No serious newspaper ever suggests that their online polls are representative of the public in general, or even their own readers, and I'm pretty sure the Gazette does not take its polls seriously. Those who respond are self-selecting and usually participate because they feel strongly on one side or the other; some vote more than once. The questions are at times not structured so that either Yes or No accurately reflects the opinion of thoughtful readers.
There is no reason for WD to think its poll results will reflect a good, representative sample of the public. Because you have to be signed up to Facebook to vote, it is fairly likely that those voting will be predominantly its fans.
Although I know that "dago" was once very offensive, I personally do not think the name should be a sufficient reason to keep Wandering Dago out of the Track. They might have made the business decision that the brand will attract more customers than it repels. It certainly has gotten them more media attention than they could have ever hoped for.
Most etymologists believe that "dago" morphed from the word "diego", which is Spanish for James. (James the Greater is the patron saint of Spain.) Five hundred years ago, it was used to designate a Spaniard, and over the centuries was used for people from Spain, Portugal, Italy or Latin America. By 1900 it was used in the USA mostly to designate Italians, probably because they were by far the largest of those groups immigrating to the USA.
I wish people would be a lot less sensitive to ethnic nicknames in general, especially when they are not being used in an angry or disparaging context. It's about time "dago" and similar ethnic phrases lose their sting. Save our anger -- or maybe just our pity -- for those who use the term in order to demean an individual or ethnic group.
Posted on July 17 at 8:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)
Thanks for the history of the Zoppé family and its circus. I saw the tent going up and how it attracted a crowd and stopped to take photos. Then, I came back to catch the sunset. For photos go to
Posted on July 13 at 12:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)
The show was as enjoyable as ever. Many thanks to the folks at Jumpin' Jack's and all their helpers.
See images of the fireworks taken from Cucumber Alley in the Schenectady Stockade at
Posted on July 1 at 7:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)
Thank you, Jim, for all you have done to preserve our buildings and build a true neighbor-hood. We will preserve your memory and goals.
Posted on June 25 at 8:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)
The council has already authorized purchase of 20 kiosks. The only issue before it yesterday for the public hearing was whether the Mayor would be given authority to set all rates and duration times for metered spaces. Because parking meter rates involve a significant amount of revenues, affect so many people, and can have such a significant impact on the desirability of people coming to do business downtown, it is the council's job as the city's legislature to make the hard decisions, ask the hard questions, and seek out citizen input on particular proposals, before making changes.
The Mayor said last night that having public hearings on changes takes too long. But, what is so urgent about meter rate changes that we should sacrifice the legislative obligation of levying revenue increases and listening to the public, in order to save a few weeks? If the Mayor wants special Christmas season rates (higher or lower or none at all), he can surely ask for them in October. If he decides people should pay more to park near City Hall or the Library, he can surely take an extra month to give time for the Council to do its job.
Posted on June 24 at 9:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)
Let me see if I understand your "reasoning": Because an issue is controversial and important to many city residents, it is a GOOD thing for the City Council to duck the responsibility to make tough choices and hand the issue over to the Mayor, or for the Mayor to pass the responsibility over to a City employee like the City Engineer? Imagine all the other issues the Council could shirk because they are controversial -- in the name of giving the public just one target to shoot at if they disagree.
As you know, the Mayor and City Engineer have already told the Council they want $1 per hour to be the citywide rate. I can understand the Council members wanting to avoid the heat, but making these decisions is their job. And our system is set up so that the public can focus on particular proposed bills one at a time before they happen, in order to help the fact-finding legislative body make better decisions.
Beyond the citywide rate increase that will surely come, Schenectady has never charged for evening or weekend/holiday use of parking meters. The Mayor clearly intends to change that policy, as he talks about special rates for special events, virtually none of which take place during Monday-Friday business hours. Is that just a minor administrative decision that the City Engineer should be able to change, or an important policy on how to treat city residents and visitors and encourage more shoppers and event-goers?
Saving on unused meter minutes is of little importance compared to scaring away many potential shoppers. And, don't forget that the kiosk system will let a driver take his extra minutes with him to another downtown location, where he won't have to pay at all for the spot, and where he can undermine the short-term limits meant to force the turnover of spots.
It is strange indeed that the City and County and Metroplex try so very hard to bring in new businesses (giving tax breaks and often ignoring our zoning laws) but the City Council doesn't mind if the Mayor drives away (punishes) customers with rate increases, or if the current free lots are over-run and unavailable for cost-conscious shoppers or people who have no choice but to come downtown to use government services.
It is even stranger perhaps that the Gazette editorial board would want to let a City Council, so often derided for being merely a Rubber Stamp for the Mayor, to simply hand the stamp back to Mayor so it won't have to get any of that ink on its fingers when the rates quadruple and perhaps extend to 24/7 coverage.
I can't wait to see how you next apply this concept -- especially given your touching willingness to believe the assurances and revenue-estimates of the Mayor.
Posted on June 20 at 8:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)
p.s. I forgot above to say that the new proposal covers all of the City's parking meters, not just spaces controlled by the kiosks. The proposed amendment says: "The Mayor or his or her designee is hereby authorized to determine the duration times and fees for the operation of meters or kiosks on any parking space."
One very important issue is whether the Mayor would expand coverage past the current 6 PM limit, and start charging on weekends and holidays.