By JOHN PURCELL

Recorder News Staff

Amsterdam is seeking proposals from artists for additional installations at the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook site, with $400,000 of grant funding allocated for the project.

The MVGO Art Committee is requesting proposals from artists specializing in sculpture or metal work, or both, to create a sculpture on the north bank and another on the south bank, along with a decorative metal gate at the South Side entrance to the bridge. The $400,000 budget includes the creation and installation of the three pieces. An engineering firm will be hired to performing necessary work at platforms to install the pieces.

Guests walk along the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge after the opening ceremony on Aug. 13.

Artists proposals will be accepted until 4 p.m. Jan. 16. The selection process will evaluate an artist’s technical capabilities, experience creating public art pieces, overall cost of pieces and artistic interpretation of the MVGO’s themes. Aldermen will approve the contract with an artist.

Nicholas Zabawsky, of the Amsterdam Urban Renewal Agency, said the artwork is planned to be installed in the upcoming spring or summer, but depending on the complexity of art chosen, it could be installed at a later time.

Zabawsky said there has already been “quite a bit of response” to request for proposals (RFP) issued earlier this month. He said there have been artists from as far as Ithaca and New York City inquiring about the project, along with a few local artists.

The RFP can be viewed on the city’s website at www.amsterdamny.gov.

Amsterdam Mayor Michael Villa said installing a decorative gate is a necessary element of the project. He said whether a piece sculpture will be installed on the south overlook is uncertain, but there will a sculpture on the north overlook, because the gate is on the South Side.

“We just don’t want to dectract from the gate to right away have a piece of artwork right there,” Villa said. “It would work if it’s the right piece, but that’s going to be determined on what we get back in the RFPs and what we think fits what we’re trying to say on the bridge. It’s going to come down to dollars as well.”

Funds for the project will be used from the remaining $650,000 the city received through state grants. The grants require the money must be used within a limited geographical area and benefit the pedestrian bridge.

The remaining $250,000 will used to install restroom facilities at the site. Villa said city officials are still reviewing options on where to construct the facility, or if an existing structure will be used.

Villa said adding restroom facilities to the MVGO site is a “critical component” to be completed.

“People come, they have babies … and there’s nowhere for them to change a child or to use restroom facilities,” Villa said. “We don’t want people going into restaurants and using the facilities without patronizing the place itself.”

The need for restroom facilities at the site was a priority developed through prior public meetings about how to spend the additional money at the site. City officials had previously eyed installing restrooms at the South Side entrance to the bridge.

During the initial MVGO Art Committee meeting, U.S Rep. Paul Tonko had urged allocating the vast majority of the $650,000 toward the art installation, because securing money for public art projects is rare.

Former Mayor Ann Thane during the same meeting expressed a similar desire and said the city could seek grant funding through the state’s Consolidated Funding Application process for amenities such as restrooms.

Amsterdam Common Council members in September voted against awarding C.T. Male Associates a contract to design a facility for restrooms, because they believed the $50,000 price tag was too expensive.MVGO