Another Albany Skyway brainstorming session is scheduled for tonight.
The project would transform the I-787 northbound Clinton Avenue exit ramp from Quay Street to Clinton Avenue into an elevated walkable, bikeable linear park, linking Arbor Hill, Sheridan Hollow and the Warehouse District, enabling people to travel from downtown to Albany's Corning Riverfront Park.
"This is the second of three public forums that we'll have on the project." Capitalize Albany Corporation president Sarah Reginelli says locals are excited about the Skyway. "One of the fundamental principles that we're walking into this project with is an attempt to gain an understanding of the financial commitment that it will take to make the project a reality, and then to balance that with ongoing operations that can help to offset those costs long-term and really help the Skyway pay for itself. So a portion of tonight's activities will be really understanding how to design the Skyway in a way that allows it to support itself, and not only be that regional asset, but also a self-sustaining system on its own."
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration has committed $3.1 million to the project, expected to be completed by late 2020. The funding is in addition to a $375,000 state grant awarded in December 2016 for preliminary planning and design.
About 50 people attended the last public Skyway meeting in March at the Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center at Quackenbush Square. Concerns raised included noise, crime, air quality and greenspace. Lark Street business owner Jonathon Brust attended the meeting: "To be able to provide green space on a space that isn't currently green and add a level of sophistication and a real draw to our city is something that we really shouldn't overlook."
Reginelli says tonight's meeting will be at the nearby Palace Theatre. "We expect the same turnout or greater. We've had hundreds of people weigh in on our online survey and we receive calls and emails about it weekly, so we know that this is a project that really engages the community and has captured everyone's imagination. So we've moved into the Palace Theatre this time around. Gives you a great view of the Skyway but also provides a more comfortable venue."
New York Bicycling Coalition Board President Leah Golby, a former Albany Common Councilor, says the Skyway could be a boon to cycling in the city. "This is a terrific investment that will just bring more people to downtown Albany, which is great, whether they're tourists or residents."
Reginelli says the third and final community meeting on the Skyway project will likely be held in June or July, possibly at the Palace, too. "It will definitely be somewhere near the Skyway. We will be back out to the community in advance of that to ensure that we have robust participation there as well."
Reginelli adds that when completed, the Skyway will act as a green roof – absorbing, filtering and diverting storm runoff that would otherwise enter the city’s combined sewers and eventually the Hudson River.