New York had been enjoying an economic renaissance when the pandemic hit. With winter's approach stoking anticipation of a "second wave" of COVID-19, WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas spoke with Troy Mayor Patrick Madden about the city's future.
This week the second-term Democratic mayor announced the completion of the Franklin Alley restoration project, a major downtown revitalization effort. Madden says Franklin Alley has been re-imagined: it's now a unique and intimate public space, featuring new lighting, sidewalks, and public art inspired by Troy’s history and people.
"If you've ever been to Europe, or maybe even old Canadian cities, alleyways are often used in a different way than we use them here. Here we use them to store garbage and dumpsters and grease vats. And you know, they're not places that you are normally attracted to, or most people aren't attracted to them. But in other in other areas, they're used as amenities. They're places where people congregate in tables, at tables, to get takeout from local restaurants or just socialize. And the idea was to see if we could do that in the city of Troy."
Madden is also celebrating the completion of Troy's new seawall. The original was built in 1922, then badly damaged during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. Madden's predecessor Lou Rosamilia set a restoration plan in motion in 2014.
"Water bodies are amenities to urban environments. So as we completed the sea wall, we extended the walkway along the seawall. We made it a more inviting venue for people to come down and sit by the river. We put in a new marina so that day use people and long term use, boaters can access the city of Troy from the waterfront."
But the coronavirus has been casting an ominous shadow over the city’s ambitions.
"Like so many other communities are small businesses are struggling during this time of COVID. And it's important for all of us to think about how we can continue to support them to get through this period that might last another nine or 12 months. I don't know I'm not making predictions. But you know, there is a fair amount of time ahead of us yet, which in which we will still be impacted by the pandemic. And getting our small businesses through that period is important so that when we come out the other end, we're not back where we were 25, 30 years ago again."
Madden says when it comes to dealing with COVID he is ever-vigilant about mask-wearing and social distancing.
"It's real easy to wear a mask. I mean, it's just it's probably the easiest thing we could ask anybody to do. And, and it's very effective. Apparently, that you know, those scientific evidence points to the efficacy of covering your face covering your mouth and nose rather. So let's do that. And let's prevent the spread in this community. An outbreak in the community, whether it's Capital Region, the county or the city, would further devastate businesses would impact city services would impact schools and daycares. We can keep this in check."
In October, Madden presented the city council with a $75.8 million dollar budget proposal for 2021. It comes with a modest tax hike and a proposed Pay-As-You-Throw garbage system to replace a flat rate.
"We've gone through a series of council finance committee meetings, examining various aspects of the budget. And now the council committees will prepare their thoughts on the budget proposal and their recommendations for changes. And in two weeks’ time, that will be presented to the administration. And we'll sit down and start having those conversations. The goal is to have the budget passed by, I believe the date is November 24. We are on track to do that this year."
Madden says he stays in close contact with other mayors in the region and is always open to collaborating on projects that will help stimulate urban economies. And when it comes to how a Joe Biden presidency might impact the Collar City:
"I do look forward to his administration and working with that administration, to advance the things that are important to the people in the city of Troy."