Posted at: 01/29/2013 11:57 PM
Updated at: 01/30/2013 12:02 AM
By: Dan Levy
ALBANY - The state of the city is "strong and our future is bright!" That was the gist of Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings' 20th annual address on Tuesday night. The mayor also laid out his vision for Albany's future, a future he sees as changing the dynamic of the entire planet.
As both an educator and a politician, Jerry Jennings has said many times, his life-long passion is to help the youth of Albany. He says he hopes his new initiative announced Tuesday night will inspire Albany's youth to pursue local careers in the field of cutting-edge technology.
To deliver this year's State of the City message, the mayor needed the quintessential backdrop, something he found inside the century-old Kieran Plaza on Broadway.
"I believe the future of this building is symbolic of the exciting future that lies ahead for our great historic city," Jennings proclaimed.
The Kiernan Plaza is in the process of a $25 million transformation, that when completed, the mayor says, will establish it as the epicenter for smart cities technology that will benefit not just the Capital Region, but all of humanity.
"The concept of smart cities technology is to use new and developing strategies to assist communities in solving challenges in areas such as public safety, public health, transportation, and energy efficiency."
"This is absolutely new and exciting news," asserted Georgette Steffens, executive director of the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District, while acknowledging other economic initiatives.
"The announcement about nearly one million dollars for waterfront (is exciting too), " she said. "it'll work to improve our quality of life that we offer in downtown, that is a huge attraction for residents who are looking to live in an urban environment."
It now appears Downtown Albany's future urban environment will not include a new convention center.
"It is unrealistic to believe that we can expect New York State to fund a nearly $300 million facility," Jennings said.
Instead, Jennings says it is totally realistic to improve existing facilities such as the Times Union Center and the Empire State Plaza.
One thing he would not reveal was whether or not he plans to seeks a sixth term in office, although he did mention that his commitment to the city is "as strong and as passionate today as it was on the first day he took office."
City Treasurer Kathy Sheehan has already announced her candidacy to challenge Jennings in a Democratic primary.
Corey Ellis, the Albany councilman who mustered 44% of the primary vote against Jennings in 2009, said Tuesday night that he too has a vision for the city, but stopped short of officially declaring his candidacy.