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NY's Lt. Governor Tours Rivers Casino Site

New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was in Schenectady Wednesday, touring the construction site at the new Rivers Casino and Resort.

The old ALCO site has been transformed: the former eyesore is a beehive of construction activity. Hochul  hopped aboard a CDTA bus with Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy, developer David Buicko and a batallion of local reporters for a hitch across the grounds.  Buicko is CEO and president of the Galesi Group, the project developer:  1 "I come over here every weekend and watch the construction, and see what has happened the previous week.  We've done a lot. We did Golub's building right across the street, their headquarters actually, that was part of the ALCO site too.  The Erie Canal used to go through the ALCO site. We've invested over $150 million in downtown Schenectady as well."

Hochul says the Rivers project gives the region new hope.   "This area has seen better days certainly, when we had the American Locomotive here, we had 40,000 jobs with G.E., and then we fell on some tough times here. And to have the visions of the individuals here and our mayor and elected officials who came together and support when the governor wants to do, which is to bring new life to downtown areas like this and to capitalize on this incredible location, long forgotten and abandoned, right here on one of our greatest treasures, which is the canal."

Buicko agrees it's all about location — and a mile of prime waterfront real estate with a harbor for boat accessibility.  "This was one of the entrances coming from the north of the city, and if you drove by it, it's just a bunch of abandoned buildings. So from that standpoint, it's kind of embarrassing for the city and it's a problem upstate New York has. We put highways, railroads or factories on our waterways instead of taking advantage of them. 787 is a prime example. Like what Albany would be if they had that waterfront."

Hochul TWO "I've witnessed a transformation like this in only one other place, and that was the hardest hit place in the state of New York, which is Buffalo, my hometown. Abandoned waterfronts. Abandoned steel plants. And I saw the reverse under Governor Cuomo. So I know it can happen."

David Buicko brought Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul up to speed on progress at the Rivers site.
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
David Buicko brought Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul up to speed on progress at the Rivers site.

Buicko brought Hochul up to speed on progress at the Rivers site. Crews broke ground on the site last month and the hope is to have the casino open in early 2017, the hotel that fall. Construction is ahead of schedule, thanks to a record mild upstate winter.

Mayor McCarthy tells Time Warner Cable News he anticipates a re-charge of the Electric City, making it a destination.    "We're a doing this in a manner to complement what we are doing downtown. So you see Proctor's and the rebirth that's happened there, this is just an expansion of that."

Again, Kathy Hochul:   "This is gonna branch out. We're gonna have new transportation corridors to get people who live in places like Amsterdam to get the transportation here. So this is gonna have a regional ripple effect which is exactly what we expected in addition to substantial tax revenues coming to the taxpatyers of these communities, the city and the county, the result of this when it's in full swing, so this is a great day, I just wanted a progress report, and I feel very confident that we're on schedule, and the future of this area is very bright."

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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