The CMOST museum would be a great fit for Troy.
When we last discussed CMOST, it seemed the little children’s museum caught up in Alain Kaloyeros’ downfall would be moving to Clifton Park or Albany. No longer.
The museum is eyeing a move to 500 River St. in Troy, according to the building’s owner, and Mayor Patrick Madden is asking the state to contribute $1.5 million toward the relocation.
The Children’s Museum of Science and Technology is one of the region’s gems, but a humble one hidden away in the Rensselaer Technology Park in North Greenbush. It’s a strange location for a museum, but that hasn’t stopped it from being a favored destination for families with smaller children, including mine.
CMOST isn’t a big-city science museum, which is one of the things we like about it. It doesn’t overwhelm kids. It allows them to experience the museum at their own speed.
Kaloyeros, never one to think small, had grander plans.
Five years ago, the SUNY Polytechnic Institute founder sucked CMOST into
what was then his growing empire and announced he’d transform the museum into a $100 million showpiece at the gleaming SUNY Poly campus on Albany’s western edge.
Then, Kaloyeros was accused of bid rigging by state and local prosecutors. His corruption trial is underway in Manhattan.
CMOST was left with an insecure financial future when a post-kaloyeros SUNY Poly decided to shed assets unrelated to the core mission of the school. Could CMOST, which had become dependent on SUNY Poly funding, survive on its own? Might it close without a more visible and financially viable location?
To prevent that from happening, Clifton Park Supervisor Phil Barrett stepped forward with a plan that would have attempted to put the museum on sound footing at Clifton Park Center. The Saratoga County town, he said, offered CMOST the best chance for a sound future.
No, no, no, said Albany Assemblywoman Pat Fahy and Mayor Kathy Sheehan, who said the museum belongs in an urban location. They saw it as a potential complement to the new convention center and other downtown attractions.
But the museum’s original home was in Troy, where it opened six decades ago in the basement of the Rensselaer Historical Society, and Troy is where it now seems most likely to land.
Kevin Bette, head of the
First Columbia development company, which is redeveloping the Troy waterfront south of the Hoosick Street Bridge, said talks to relocate CMOST to 500 River are “fairly advanced.” The museum would occupy 20,000 square feet of the building — nearly double its current size.
Bette, who hopes to start the redevelopment of 500 River this fall, said he has long hoped to bring a cultural attraction to the neighborhood. And CMOST, Bette said, is excited by the site near the Hudson, believing it can make teaching about the river part of its mission.
Mary Bayly Skevington, who chairs CMOST’S board, could not be reached for comment. The financial specifics of the relocation, including the public support that might be needed, are not clear.
The $1.5 million requested for CMOST by Madden is included in a pitch for $10 million in state money that would benefit 24 downtown projects. As reported by the Albany Business Review, the city is hoping for $4 million to redevelop the old city hall site at One Monument Square, $3 million for a year-round home for its popular farmers market, and $725,000 to create an “artificial intelligence center of excellence,” among other requests.
“All that money would be great for the city,” said Troy Councilman Mark Mcgrath. “But is it great for the neighborhoods? The neighborhoods are falling apart.”
Mcgrath, whose district includes one of Troy’s shuttered public swimming pools, has a point. The city’s success at reviving its downtown with highend restaurants and apartments has done little for lower-income residents in neighborhoods like North Central and South Troy.
But bringing CMOST to 500 River would be different, I’d argue, because it would put the museum within reach of city kids who most need opportunities. They have few reasons to come downtown now.
The relocation would also be good for downtown, given the potential for economic spinoff. Families going to CMOST could eat at the food court Bette is opening across the street in the building that houses City Hall, or they could walk along the riverside path to everything else downtown offers.
And the relocation would be good for CMOST, which would enjoy new space in a highvisibility building that can be seen by the thousands of cars that cross the bridge each day. The new home would allow the museum to become a significant attraction in a region that has too few for children.
So what’s not to like?
An LED display is a highlight of the CMOST children’s museum in North Greenbush.
the corruption scandal involving Suny POLY and Alain Kaleyeros, its former president and Ceo, has left the future of Cmost in doubt.