On Tuesday night, what was meant to be a small subcommittee of the Common Council Economic Development Committee met to strategize a plan for securing funding for the Ferry Street bridge. It turned out that every member of the Economic Development Committee, with the exception of Alexis Keith (Fourth Ward), was present, along with HDC executive director Sheena Salvino, Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton and her aide, Lisa Walsh, Common Council president Claudia DeStefano and former Council president, now Third Ward supervisor Don Moore, and the media: Register-Star reporter John Mason and Gossips.
It will be remembered that last August then mayor William Hallenbeck held a press conference at the barricaded bridge, calling for help from all levels of government--county, state, and federal--in funding a replacement for the neglected and deteriorating bridge. In advance of the press conference, letters of invitation went out to elected officials at all levels of government, very few of whom showed up. It seems, however, that after the press conference there was no follow-up.
Salvino recommended that Mayor Hamilton contact all of the same people and invite them to a meeting--not a press conference but a sit-down discussion at which the importance of the bridge and the need to replace it are presented and ways to fund the project are explored. It was agreed that this plan would be pursued.
Alderman Rick Rector (First Ward), who chairs the Economic Development Committee, asked if there had been "a conversation with the county." In response to Rector's question, Moore said that Supervisor Bill Hughes (Fourth Ward) was "talking actively about the governor's initiative for transportation infrastructure" and was "in contact with the governor's office."
Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), who serves on the Economic Development Committee, advised that there should be only one contact for the City. "We won't be well served," cautioned Friedman, "if there is a lot of disjointed effort." Moore remarked that the plan outlined by Salvino, which they had agreed to pursue, was the right approach and suggested that the Hudson supervisors could be part of meeting. He also warned against individual conversations, advising, "Efforts need to be coordinated."
Friedman suggested, "It's the mayor's job to lead this." He went on to advise, "The mayor should create a team, have a timeline, and manage it as a project." Several of the people present expressed their interest in being part of that team.
The subject of the Ferry Street bridge will be taken up again at the next Economic Development Committee meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday, March 17, at 6 p.m.
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