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Tonko: Capital Region should harness its "mighty waters"

Troy's waterfront was spiced up with the opening of the popular Dinosaur Bar-B-Que restaurant last fall.
Marie Cusick
Troy's waterfront was spiced up with the opening of the popular Dinosaur Bar-B-Que restaurant last fall.

For the second time in less than a year, Congressman Paul Tonko (D-Capital Region) is spearheading an effort to revitalize his district’s waterfronts.

The Hudson River and the Erie Canal made New York an economic powerhouse in the past, and Tonko believes that power can be harnessed once again to transform the state in the 21st century:

“[We should] build upon an economy that uses the waterways now, not as that necessary engine that perhaps diluted pollution, but now as the entertainment resource, as the destination piece, as the heritage expression component that then enables us to market ourselves for the richness of our past and with a boldness as we go forward with our future.”

He shared his message today with about 250 government officials, community planners, and local business owners at his second annual Mighty Waters Conference at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy.

Today’s conference comes on the heels of another one Tonko held last July in Schenectady, which established a Mighty Waters Task Force. Since then, the group has been working to make waterfront revitalization a reality here.

Tonko says the Capital Region’s waterways are its biggest asset, and he wants to implement a mix of business development, and environmental conservation along the area’s waterfronts.

“Decision makers who can bring jobs to a community want to know that their immediate family and work family have places to go, things to do, that there’s a quality of life,” says Tonko.

Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy joined the conference in the afternoon as the keynote speaker. He told the audience that the Cuomo administration will partner with the Mighty Waters initiative through the state’s regional economic development councils.

Tonko says the next step is transforming his Mighty Waters Task Force into a new, stand-alone institution that can represent the region, promote collaboration, and secure funding for projects.

WMHT/Capital Region reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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