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Friday, April 19, 2024

Schenectady Council Greenlights $2.5M Funding for Mohawk Harbor Arena

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The long-awaited dream​ of bringing ​a hockey arena to Mohawk Harbor is nearing⁤ its ​completion. The city council has‌ given​ a unanimous nod to allocate $2.5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding towards ‌the ⁢project during its recent Monday night meeting.

The final financial hurdle for the $50⁤ million⁤ arena, ⁤set to be ⁢the home ground for ‌the Union College men’s and women’s ⁢Division 1 hockey teams, will‍ be tackled at the county Legislature on ‍Tuesday evening. The county board is considering a $5 million ARPA funding ⁣contribution to the project.

Last ⁢summer, the city⁣ council decided to withdraw $2.5 million in ARPA funding that was initially granted⁢ to ⁢the proposed Capital Region Aquatic Center in 2022. This decision ​was made after the aquatic center revealed ⁣plans to relocate its project from Mohawk Harbor to Rotterdam.

After considering a plan to include the $2.5 million ‌in⁤ ARPA funding in the 2024 city budget last fall, Schenectady ‌Mayor Gary McCarthy proposed last ‍month to⁤ utilize the funding to bring the⁤ arena project⁢ to life.

“I’m delighted to see the ​project progressing,” McCarthy expressed on Tuesday. “It’s going to​ further enhance the significant economic activity we have downtown with Mohawk Harbor⁤ and throughout the community.”

As per the county’s proposed agreement ⁣with arena​ developers Galesi Group, ⁣the arena would serve as a secondary venue capable of‍ hosting county events such ⁢as the SUNY Schenectady graduation or the SummerNight festivities in⁤ case of bad‍ weather.

The city council is scheduled to discuss‍ a community benefits agreement for the Mohawk Harbor arena during‍ a‌ special council meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.⁤ This agreement would detail the city’s ​requirements for the developers to receive the ​Schenectady ARPA funding.

“I anticipate ​it will be similar or complementary to what⁣ was proposed in the county’s narrative,” McCarthy said ‌regarding ⁣the‌ city’s ‌community benefits agreement.

During⁣ the council’s Feb. ⁣5 meeting,‌ Galesi Group CEO David Buicko assured the council that the developers would agree to clawbacks. These would stipulate that city money must be returned if‌ the arena owners fail to meet the terms⁢ of the forthcoming‍ agreement, which could include a clause guaranteeing a​ certain amount of time reserved at the arena for community and school district events.

“I’m still gathering my information, but​ I want to ensure that we have​ clearly ​outlined how the‌ community can benefit from‌ this resource,” City Councilman Carl Williams⁢ said regarding the forthcoming discussions on the community benefits agreement.

The special Thursday meeting of ⁢the council’s ‍City Development & Planning Committee will also include a discussion of the city ARPA projects that are still pending.‌ The council awarded ‌a‍ total of $25.9 million in ARPA funding for 33 projects in the summer of⁤ 2022 and⁣ has until the end of 2024 to allocate the federal funding with several ⁤projects facing deadlines to secure outside funding.

Schenectady ‌County Metroplex Chair Ray Gillen commended the council for backing⁣ the arena project, which is expected to break ground this spring and is projected to open in time for the Union College hockey season in the fall ​of⁣ 2025.

“We are grateful to Mayor McCarthy and the ⁣city council for approving funding ​for the new Mohawk Harbor Arena,” ‍Schenectady County⁢ Metroplex Chair Ray Gillen said on Tuesday.​ “This is a $50 million investment that will attract more visitors, ⁣create⁤ jobs, and increase tax revenue for Schenectady County while⁤ providing residents with ​a year-round indoor sports and entertainment venue.”

City Councilman Joseph Mancini ‍highlighted⁤ the​ potential for the Schenectady City School District to host events at the arena as a community benefit of the arena project.

“I believe it will continue⁢ to draw people into Mohawk ‌Harbor and inject more vitality into ⁤the⁤ city ‌and continue its development,” he said of ⁢the project. “I love the idea of hosting ⁢various sporting events and trade shows. It has a lot of potential and I’m ⁤excited⁢ about it.”

Galesi Group is⁤ contributing $20 million in funding ⁢to the arena, which will be⁤ owned by​ the real estate firm, ⁣with Union College entering​ into a $20‍ million ‌deal‍ to host the school’s two hockey teams at the arena for 25 years.

“I’m very enthusiastic about this,” City Councilwoman Doreen Ditoro said on Tuesday. “I believe the arena will boost businesses⁣ in the ​city on multiple levels. With the college, there will‍ be many ⁢people that can support the⁤ hockey teams, but‍ any type of youth hockey could practice there‍ and with youth ⁣sports I’m sure that it will be‌ opened up ⁤to ⁣the youth in our community. Also on a​ different level, with our trade shows everyone would benefit.”

Ditoro said⁢ that she does not​ want ⁤to see the council place restrictions ⁤on the developers‌ in the ⁣community benefits ⁤agreement.

“I’m going to ‌wait and see what Council President [Marion] Porterfield specifically wants⁤ in there,” she said. ⁣“This is privately run by the Galesi group⁤ and I don’t think we should​ demand what we want in ⁣there. Obviously we want to make sure⁤ that the community benefits ‌from the event center.”

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Kiara Thomas
Kiara Thomas
I uncover quirky and compelling stories. Always on the lookout for the 'why' behind the 'what'.
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2 COMMENTS

  1. Disagree. This decision seems like a waste of taxpayer money. There are more pressing issues that could benefit from this funding.

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