Just weeks after announcing his intention to run for governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo visited Ithaca as the guest of honor at a Waterfront Development celebration hosted by Mayor Alan J. Cohen ’81 and the owners of the new Boatyard Grill.
The construction of the maritime-themed restaurant marks the first of several projects for which $1.2 million in federal funds have been earmarked to restore the Ithaca Boating Center. The assistance comes from the Canal Corridor Initiative (CCI), a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program spearheaded by Cuomo, the department’s former secretary.
“The economy has not been very kind to upstate New York,” said Cuomo. “Upstate New York has been one of the areas slowest in recovery … because of high taxes and too much regulation. Government is too often the enemy of business rather than the friend and ally of business. Let’s use government to prime the economic pump.”
During his tenure as secretary, Cuomo departed from HUD’s strict focus on housing by expanding its support for public-private partnerships. Through a combination of low-interest loans and a $500,000 grant to construct a waterfront promenade, HUD has enabled the City of Ithaca to attract new business to an area that, as recently as four years ago, was judged too polluted to develop.
As a brownfield — an abandoned and environmentally distressed industrial site — the boating center received $350,000 of CCI grant money to help decontaminate its grounds and make them commercially viable.
Built on the tip of Inlet Island, the Grill stands on what was once a harbor where boats and oil barges connected with a railway system. “After a number of oil spills, this was a vacant marina with nothing but a transmission utility pole,” said community development planner Nels Bohn.
Cuomo praised the restoration process. “We can make upstate New York the gem it once was,” he said. “This [Grill] is a testament to what will happen when we take the same approach and do it over and over again.”
With regard to the future of HUD under the new administration, Cuomo said, “I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”
Archived article by Sana Krasikov