AMSTERDAM - In a night described as "soulful" by U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, area residents gathered in the Amsterdam High School cafeteria to suggest ideas to help represent local culture on the planned pedestrian bridge over the Mohawk River.
More than 20 residents attended, sharing many ideas with local and state officials, as well as representatives from Saratoga Associates, the architectural firm that designed the bridge.
A common theme among the ideas was representing the many different ethnic groups that came to the area.
Eric Whiting of Saratoga
residents speak at a meeting about the
pedestrian bridge over the Mohawk?River at the
Amsterdam High?School cafeteria on?Tuesday.
The Leader-Herald/ Arthur Cleveland
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko speaks at the meeting.
A proposed design for the bridge is shown.
Tonko and members of the public were interested in the idea of a map or a globe to show the country of origin of many of the city's immigrants.
Michael Palumbo, who was born in the city but spent 17 years in California, was excited by the idea of adding multimedia to the bridge, including ways to have audio downloaded to a smartphone.
Valarie Beekman, the city's 2nd Ward councilwoman, suggested a flag park to commemorate those who fought and died in war or are currently serving abroad in the military.
Diane Smith, a resident of Amsterdam, said she loved the idea of planting tulips on the bridge and installing colored lights to cascade under the bridge or to light up the bridge in a colorful pattern.
Even Mayor Ann Thane suggested a few ideas, including adding personal heirlooms - such as teacups - to the bridge to give it a more personal element.
Tom Porter, who said he represents the local Mohawk and Iroquois community, said he would love to see a history of his people on the bridge, as well as a history lesson on how the area was the birthplace of American Democracy, referring to the form of government the local tribes had adopted long before the 1700s.
Eric Whiting, senior associate with Saratoga Associates, said he was pleased to hear the ideas, but suggested people keep them simple.
The bridge is part of the city's waterfront revitalization project, which includes the repairs to Riverlink Park and will continue with an elevated walkway to downtown and the Guy Park Trail.
The bridge is tentitivley expected to be completed in June 2015.
Tonko said he was incredibly pleased with the meeting, repeatedly stating how proud the meeting made him to be part of the Amsterdam community.
Both Thane and Tonko said they want to have another meeting to try and incorporate all the ideas they heard Tuesday and adapt them to fit the bridge.
Shannon-Rose Design will be on hand to help adjust ideas for the bridge.
"I think, in the end, you'll stand on this bridge and you'll say, 'Wow, I learned a lot.'" Richard Kline, president of Shannon-Rose Design, said.
Arthur Cleveland is the Montgomery County Reporter. He can be reached at Montco@leaderherald.com.