Susan B. Anthony museum expansion a highlight of Hochul's Finger Lakes spending promises
Gov. Kathy Hochul had been speaking for nearly a half-hour Monday – announcing tens of millions of dollars for area schools and colleges, for parks, downtown revitalization and more – when she paused.
“I’m going to take a drink of water here,” Hochul said. “I'm announcing so much money I'm losing my voice.”
The line drew laughter from the audience of local dignitaries and others who had gathered at the theater in downtown’s Innovation Square, formerly Xerox Tower.
Hochul is touring the state, touting her annual budget proposal and highlighting spending of local interest.
Among those highlights:
- $17 million for a Monroe Community College advanced technology center to expand technical training, including an existing optics program.
- $1.7 million for Finger Lakes Community College labs and nurse training facilities.
- $42 million to replace Interstate 490 bridges over the Erie Canal on the east side of Rochester, near the Bushnell’s Basin exit.
- $21 million to fix the pavement on Route 104.
- $10 million for Letchworth State Park and $4.5 million for the Running Track Bridge, a former railroad bridge north of downtown Rochester that would be repurposed for a trail connection.
- $20 million to further modernize Cornell AgriTech's Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture.
But the biggest applause line was for the $10 million awarded to the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House, which plans to build an interpretive center near Brown Street and Jefferson Avenue. The museum is hosting a dinner on Wednesday where officials plan to provide more details about the interpretive display. Final designs are expected in June, which should shore up project costs.
With the injection of the state dollars, the museum has raised $15.8 million to date, said museum President and CEO Deborah Hughes. She was in the audience Monday and said she was brought to tears with the announcement.
“This was a big surprise to us today,” she said afterward. “We've been working with the Rochester delegation, and the governor, they've been fabulous. But it's been several years in the works. So today kind of changes the reality of this whole project and changes the timeframe.”
The moment was emotional, she said, because Hochul led the New York Women’s Suffrage Commission, so Hughes worked with her promoting the state and its role launching the suffrage movement.
“New York is a place that has always been advocating for equity, and for equality. And that's what Susan B. Anthony was really about,” Hughes said.
And the governor understands, she said, that bringing people here, using Susan B. Anthony’s name, is a way to amplify that ideal -- “about a world that can be just for all.”
“It's a part of who New York is. So it's so much more than a building. It's so much more than history. It is about making a difference.”
Also in the audience was Assemblyman Harry Bronson, dean of the local delegation. All these spending promises still require signoff from the Legislature, and Bronson is optimistic.
“The items that she announced today, I think all have a really good shot of getting through,” he said. “Of course, the devil’s in the details.”