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Rensselaer Rising connects with the Albany Riverfront Collaborative to Reimagine 787



On Thursday, April 25, 2024 Mayor Mike Stammel and the City Planning Department hosted a joint meeting with the Albany Riverfront Collaborative and the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT).  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss DOT’s “Reimagine 787” Planning and Environmental Linkage (PEL) study in general and how some of the proposed alternatives may impact “Rensselaer Rising,” the City’s current Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) study.

Mayor Stammel kicked off the evening by welcoming the attendees and presenters.  He highlighted several developments currently occurring in the Rensselaer that are bringing in new apartments and businesses.  He then noted that one of the goals of “Reimagine 787” is to provide better access to the waterfront on the Albany side of the river.  He then pointed out that Rensselaer already has good access to the Hudson River Waterfront and several amenities along the shoreline, including a boat and fishing dock, boat launch, Riverfront Park and The Esplanade with beautiful views of the Albany skyline (only slightly obstructed by 787).

Scott Townsend then shared that the Albany Riverfront Collaborative desires to engage the complete community in the creation of an equitable, sustainable, beautiful, forever and vision for better connections to the riverfront.  He emphasized that collaboration was a key part of the process and he expressed the appreciation that the group had towards DOT for their efforts to actively involve the community in the “Reimagine 787” process.

City Planning Director Tom Hulihan then spoke briefly about some of the exciting developments happening in Rensselaer then introduced Norabelle Greenberger Senior Planner with LaBella Associates who is working with the city on “Rensselaer Rising,” a year-long study to develop a plan create a more vibrant community by transforming unused and underutilized properties into productive amenities.  The study is funded by a Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) grant from the New York State Department of State.  Once the study is complete the city will seek a BOA designation that will offer new opportunities for funding for marketing and pre-development efforts. It was also noted that the “Reimagine 787” project will likely lead to modifications or replacement of the Dunn Memorial Bridge and series of ramps in Rensselaer.  This could dramatically change the BOA study area and is being considered in the planning process.

Kelley L. Kircher, Assistant Regional Traffic Engineer for the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) then discussed “Reimagine 787.”  She emphasized that DOT does not have a preset plan for 787 and is truly interested in developing a plan with active community involvement.  She noted that 787 and the various interchanges and ramps into the Empire State Plaza and across the Dunn Memorial Bridge were built at a time when moving traffic was a high priority.  She noted that the “Reimagine 787” process would like to take into account ways to integrate roadways so that they move traffic while also have less of an impact on other aspects of the community, most notably people traveling by means other than vehicles and people’s connections to the environment.  Most importantly she told the audience about an “Reimagine 787” Open House on Wednesday, May 1, 2024 at the Albany Capital Center (55 Eagle Street, Albany, NY) that will seek input from the broader community about a vision for the future of 787.

Throughout the evening the engaged and informed attendees asked relevant questions and shared meaningful ideas.  More information about “Rensselaer Rising” can be found at https://www.rensselaerplanning.com/; more information about the Albany Riverfront Collaborative can be found at https://www.albanyriverfrontcollaborative.com/; and more information about “Reimagine 787” can be found at https://webapps.dot.ny.gov/reimagining-i-787.

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