By Maddie Cullerton
Ever since the founding of Union College, there has been a notoriously bad relationship between Union and the town of Schenectady. Now, though, things are beginning to change. Students are starting to become interested in the diverse offerings of Schenectady, from the Green Market on Sundays to the shops and cafes on Jay Street.
Still, a Union survey found that 60% of prospective students declined admission solely because of the town of Schenectady.
[pullquote]“…60% of prospective students declined admission solely because of the town of Schenectady.”[/pullquote]
The issue may soon be remediated. Last year, Metroplex, an urban revitalization firm in Schenectady, was granted $763,000 by the National Grid to build a pathway connecting Union College to downtown Schenectady. The pathway will be outfitted with energy-efficient lights, directional signs, and perhaps kiosks.
Slated to begin construction this year, the project will benefit both the Schenectady community and the Union College student body in multiple ways.
“Projects such as these promote economic growth and can create local jobs like we are seeing right here in Schenectady County. National Grid is proud to be able to support projects that link community resources and provide environmentally responsible solutions to doing business,” President of the National Grid Tom King said.
The pathway, with its lighted connection to and from State Street, will provide a safe and direct route for students to explore downtown Schenectady.
“I think the walkway will be a wonderful addition to the downtown area, not only for the campus community, but for the Schenectady community as well. Once it’s completed, I hope students will take full advantage of all that our downtown area has to offer,” Co-Chair of the Union Schenectady Alliance Meredith Adamo ‘13 said.
Kim Floeser ‘11 thinks that the pathway will make students feel safer and will be a good step towards further integrating the college into the town.
“As a senior, I think relations with Schenectady have improved, but a pathway might make new students feel safer. This should be a college town, not a college within a town,” Floeser said.
“I think this is a great step in the right direction. It’s amazing how much has been done to improve Schenectady in the three years I’ve been here. This is another advancement that’s bringing us closer to the goal,” Co-Chair of the Union Schenectady Alliance Anthony Perez ‘11 said.
However, for a freshman girl, the pathway provides a way past the fear commonly associated with a venture into Schenectady.
“I have had a chance to see the downtown area and know that it has nice restaurants and entertainment to offer, but I do think that a lot of freshmen consider Schenectady to be fairly dangerous and would be uneasy about venturing out themselves. I think a pathway lined with lights is a great idea; knowing that you are not getting lost in a sketchy city would definitely be of great comfort to a lot of students, and going out for a night on the town is worth it!” she said.