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Economic Development

Posted on: July 2, 2018

Cohoes Common Council OKs $1.9M bond

COHOES, N.Y. >> After two meetings, the Common Council approved a $1.9 million bond for various capital project improvements.

Mayor Shawn Morse said the $1.9 million bond was needed in order for the city to match funds on recent grants they received. 

Morse said that as part of the bonding, Canal Square Park on Remsen Street in the downtown area will receive $450,000 worth of improvements. The work will include building a new stage for the city’s summer concert series, new seating, furniture, landscaping, drainage and site work. Morse said the bond work at Canal Square Park would be to match a recent $1.5 million project with grants awarded by GIG/EFC and the Environmental Protection Fund.

City officials said $400,000 will be used for a Remsen Street streetscape/city share project, which will include new sidewalks down the rest of Remsen Street, paving and parking spaces. Morse said the streetscape work will match the funds the city received for phase 2 of downtown improvements, which was part of a $1.3 million grant awarded by CDBG, Climate Smart and National Grid.


The historic Cohoes Music Hall is also slated to receive more improvements as part of the bonding. Morse said the music hall improvements would include a new marquee outside with new lighting and new windows. The music hall is slated to see roughly $800,000 worth of improvements from the bond.


The final capital project that will receive improvements as part of the bond approval will be Lansing Park on James Street. Morse said $250,000 will be allocated from the bond to replace the existing parking lot, including paving and drainage work, create a new dog park and place new handicap accessible playground equipment.


“This is a very important bond because we would have never received all of the grants that replaced some of the sidewalks [on Remsen Street], Canal Square Park, and the streetscape without having our matching share of money, so a vote against the bond was a vote against all of those incredibly good things,” Morse said after the Common Council meeting Tuesday night.


On Tuesday night, the council voted 5 to 1 on the bond ordinance, with the majority in favor of it. 


However, since it was an ordinance, the full six-member council had to approve the bonding. Since 6th Ward Councilman Randy Koniowka voted against the bonding ordinance Tuesday night, the council came back Wednesday morning to do a second vote on the bonding, with officials saying the ordinance could now pass with a majority vote.


On Wednesday morning, with Koniowka not in attendance, the five council members in attendance again voted to approve the bond.


After Tuesday night’s meeting, Koniowka said that he did not vote on approving the bond since he felt that majority of the public that he asked about the bonding, said that they do not believe the city should spend money on paying back the bond for more than a decade for those types of projects.


“Basically the people don’t want it,” said Koniowka on Tuesday night. “I surveyed 100 people on a Facebook poll of Cohoes residents and 80 percent of them said they did not want it and that they wanted more investments in other parts of the city.”


Later Wednesday morning, Koniowka said having a meeting that early in the morning “is an absolute farce.” He said that the council did not even know about the bond until two weeks ago.


“You know people have obligations and I had to work and I’m sorry that they feel they have to do things around 8 in the morning when the public can’t attend,” Koniowka said. 


Morse said Common Council President Christopher Briggs sent an email to City Clerk Lori Yando on June 18 saying that the council may need to schedule a special meeting to approve the bond ordinance on Wednesday, June 27 at 8:15 a.m. and then on June 19 Yando sent out a public notice about the possible special meeting and also posted it in City Hall.


“On the 18th, Chris asked Lori to set-up the meeting in anticipation that Mr. Koniowka would not support it based on some of his recent Facebook comments,” said Morse. “Everything that is required for a meeting was [done].”

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