NY Assembly speaker Heastie tours Schenectady

SCHENECTADY – NY Assembly Speaker Carl Heasite, a Democrat from the Bronx, says he has only seen on Broadway show in New York City – when he was 8 years old.

Heastie, 47, admitted he isn’t “the biggest culturist when it comes to plays,” but after touring Proctors in Schenectady on Wednesday, he said he would consider seeing a show there.

“I always loved upstate New York,” Heastie said. “I haven’t spent a lot of time here. The idea there is an upstate-downstate divide is a myth. I want to give reassurance by my presence here that these things matter.”

Heastie, who was elected Assembly speaker in February, visited Schenectady and Amsterdam on Wednesday as part of a statewide tour to get a first-hand look at some of the businesses and developments in upstate New York.

He started his day early in the morning in Amsterdam to see construction of the pedestrian bridge and then traveled to Schenectady to meet with officials at General Electric.

His next stop was Proctors, where the theater’s staff and local officials showed Heastie what Proctors has to offer including the Mainstage, GE Theater, Key Hall and Open Stage Media.

But what Heastie appeared really interested in was construction on the old Alco site off Erie Boulevard.

Heastie asked a number of questions during his walkthrough of Mohawk Harbor including the timeframe for construction, potential for flooding and the fate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s small nuclear reactor.

“How do you prevent the water from rising,” Heastie asked while looking down at the walkway running along the river.

David Buicko, COO of the Galesi Group, said the walkway could flood when the water rises from a storm, but the site is raised three to five feet to lift it above the 100-year floodplain.

“The last big flood we would have been in three feet of water,” Heastie said. “Creating a shoreline will help with that.”

The Galesi Group is contracting with Rifenburg Construction to transform the 60-acre brownfield into a waterfront community with housing, hotels, office and retail, a 50-boat-slip harbor and one of the state’s first commercial casinos.

“This is what the community wanted so I support them,” Heastie said of the Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor.

Heastie was impressed by the development, adding that it’s a positive thing seeing construction vehicles and cranes in upstate cities.

“I’m amazed at this development that’s happening here,” Heastie said while standing on the site overlooking the Mohawk River. “When we talked about siting of casinos, a lot of times it’s just in your mind, but they are building this thing and it’s happening.

Viccaro, Haley. “NY Assembly Speaker Heastie Tours Schenectady.” The Daily Gazette. N.p., 19 Aug. 2015. Web. 20 Aug. 2015.

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