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New York News

Amsterdam Seeks Federal Funding For New Community Center, Pedestrian Connector

Amsterdam Director of Community & Economic Development Amanda Bearcroft
Lucas Willard
/
WAMC
Amsterdam Director of Community & Economic Development Amanda Bearcroft speaks in front of a building at the site of a proposed community center

New York Congressman Paul Tonko toured two proposed economic development projects in the City of Amsterdam Friday morning, as officials look to bring more life into the city’s downtown.

Amsterdam Mayor Michael Cinquanti and Congressman Paul Tonko
Credit Lucas Willard / WAMC
Amsterdam Mayor Michael Cinquanti and Congressman Paul Tonko

Under Congress’ “Community Project” program, each member was able to submit up to 10 project requests in their district.

In the 20th District, Democrat Paul Tonko is highlighting two projects from his hometown of Amsterdam.

“I know these projects well. But we just want to fill the voice with every argument possible: what it means for economic recovery, what it means for quality of life...”

The first is a $3 million request to support design and engineering work for a pedestrian connector to a planned multimodal train station.

The pedestrian connector would include an elevated walkway over the busy stretch that separates Amsterdam’s East Main Street corridor from the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Bridge, which connects the city’s north and south sides.

Amanda Bearcroft is Amsterdam’s Director of Community & Economic Development. She says the multimodal station and “up and over” pedestrian connector were originally considered as part of the city’s pitch for a $10 million New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative award.

“But because of the price tag to it, it wasn’t actually something that was suggested by the governor to move forward because it has a $5.4 million price tag, so…what we’re trying to emphasize again, because of the MVGO, is to create that connection to downtown,” said Bearcroft.

The second project is a new Amsterdam Community Center. Envisioned off a section of East Main Street – but separated from the rest of downtown due to the Riverfront Center mall – the Community Center project is located next door to and sponsored by non-profit organization Centro Civico, and also sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club of the Capital District.

Bearcroft says Centro Civico, a division of Ibero, and the Boys & Girls Club plan a variety of uses for the $2 million project.

“There’d be programming for all ages down here, from having youth services, to having after-school programming, having senior services, it’s really going to be a catch-all building for all not only people in this neighborhood but all residents in the city,” said Bearcroft.

The Community Center project would go in a currently occupied space on State Route 5.

A project currently underway will reroute the state highway through the city, creating green space beside the Mohawk River.

Driving around the Riverfront Center mall, Democratic Mayor Michael Cinquanti explained both development projects, combined with the re-routing of Route 5, are conceptualized to create movement through Amsterdam, and bring more investment to the downtown.

“The development on the south side of the river is already happening thanks to the bridge. The riverfront is booming. Riverlink Park, it’s where we’re gathering for community events, etc. And we want to bring that on this side of the river and downtown. And it’s always been an obstacle for us, but if we get this ‘up and over’ and these projects that we’re doing with the rec center, it’s going to bring life back into our downtown. And all that green space will be created because we’re redirecting the flow of this traffic,” said Cinquanti.

Representative Tonko says he expects Congress to approve Community Project awards in the fall.  

“It’s a drop in the ocean but it’s significant to the communities that are going to be awarded the grants,” said Tonko.

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