We understand the reluctance on the part of Amsterdam Common Council members to approve a maintenance agreement with the state Canal Corp. for the upkeep of the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook, commonly known as the Amsterdam pedestrian bridge.
A half-century is a long time for any contract because a lot can happen in 50 years -- good or bad. While cost of the bridge itself is being covered by a statewide bond referendum approved in 2005, the city's going to have to pay for the general maintenance of the span. Amsterdam, like most other upstate New York communities, isn't in the best shape financially, and it's natural that elected officials will be reluctant to spend even more taxpayer money.
But the bridge is a key component to waterfront development in the city.
In cities like Amsterdam, community revitalization begins with developing waterways. Efforts are already under way to expand Riverlink Park, rebuild what's left of the downtown corridor, and redevelop Bridge Street on the South Side. The eyesore that used to be the Chalmers knitting mills complex has finally been torn down, and the land is ripe for development.
The pedestrian bridge is the thing that connects all that work on both sides of the Mohawk River.
There are times when city lawmakers need to look past immediate costs and instead consider the big picture. This is one of those times.
We believe council members are right to air their concerns and ask questions about the agreement. We hope they get answers. The last thing Amsterdam needs is lawmakers who simply rubber-stamp everything put in front of them.
We also hope once those issues are addressed, the council will be willing to approve the agreement and move the bridge project along. It's going to be tough for the city to go ahead with other revitalization plans the longer this project is held up.