Heather Nellis/Recorder staff The Amtrak train station on Route 5 in the city of Amsterdam is pictured Friday.
By HEATHER NELLIS
Recorder News Staff
Amsterdam and local economic development groups like the city's Industrial Development Agency are reportedly working to find state and federal funding streams to help pay for the downtown relocation of the West End Amtrak train station.
Mayor Ann Thane and AIDA Executive Director Jody Zakrevsky said grant funding from the Brownfield Opportunity Area program and the Waterfront Heritage Area program may be pooled, in addition to state Department of Transportation funds, to pay for a study to identify the costs associated with the relocation.
"It would be a misnomer to call it a feasibility study, in the sense we know it's feasible," Zakrevsky said. "We just have to be able to identify the costs to build it. We know how much the rail company would put up, but we have to put up the balance from some other source."
In that search for additional sources, Thane said the city is working with U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, the state Department of State, and DOT, which is also working independently with Amtrak.
"We're also looking into the next round of funding for the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council to see how this can fit into state funding, plus federal sources, like Tonko's Mighty Waters Initiative," Thane said.
Anthony Ilacqua, the spokesman for this region's state Department of Transportation, said the communication between the city for the issue is being handled by the Albany office in charge of high-speed rail. Those media contacts could not immediately comment.
Amtrak spokesmen were reportedly not in the office Friday.
Zakrevsky said Amtrak has considered rebuilding the train station outside the city's downtown area because the existing facility was heavily damaged by flooding during Tropical Storms Irene and Lee in August and September 2011.
"The feedback I'm hearing is there is a strong desire on everybody's part to see this happen," Zakrevsky said. "It makes sense to have the station in a place people can walk to, drive to, and bus to. The central location would be favorable to everybody. The second indication I have is everyone is still talking about it. If there were negative feelings, I think everyone would have stopped talking about it two months ago."
Zakrevsky said he hopes construction can start sometime next year.
Thane said Amtrak contacted the city last year to announce they would be talking about rehabbing the building, or knocking it down and putting up a new one at the same site. But Thane asked them not to rebuild at the same site, as the relocating the station back downtown is in the city's Comprehensive Plan, local Waterfront Revitalization Plan and downtown plan.
In the 1970s, the city demolished its downtown train station, and Thane said the city hopes a new station could be located at the nexus of the proposed pedestrian bridge on the north side of the river closest to the city, with the hope it could once again become the hub of Amsterdam and be an accessible link to the railroad network.
"This game of city revitalization is organic, and always evolving. All the little pieces are moving, and we're really forging ahead," Thane said.