Local officials are expecting a dramatic increase in boat traffic on the Mohawk River next year when the new $330 million Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady opens.

The private investment proposed by Rush Street Gaming, The Rivers Casino & Resort, located adjacent to the $150 million Mohawk Harbor mixed-use development currently under way by The Galesi Group, could open as early as February according to Rush Street’s CEO Greg Carlin, who toured the facility with New York State Gaming Commission officials recently. With boating traffic on the Mohawk River expected to increase exponentially, the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Office is preparing to expand its marine patrol unit.

After a four-year hiatus, the patrol program was reinstated last summer. Currently, the patrol unit, which operates with just one boat and two marine patrol officers, monitors more than 20 miles of the Mohawk River. Marine Patrol for the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Office, Lt. Jason Temple said, “We go from just outside Niskayuna, that’s just east of lock 7, all the way to the Montgomery County line,” according to a TWC News report. The unit’s current annual operating budget of $39,000 is funded by the New York State Canal Corporation and the department’s one boat is leased by New York State Parks and Recreation. The sheriff’s office is hoping to purchase a second boat and to hire additional officers, the cost of which is expected to be around $90,000.

On Saturday, the marine patrol toured the river with Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, who echoed the sentiment by the sheriff’s office, saying that the increased traffic on the river is a good thing as it will bring more tourists to the Schenectady area. Santabarbara said that he plans on working with the sheriff’s office to try to get funding help from the state to increase law enforcement before the casino opens, according to the report. Upon completion, it’s expected that boaters will have as many as 50 spaces to dock at the Mohawk Harbor development at Rivers Casino.

On Friday, in a news release the casino announced that in preparation for the expected early opening it will begin a series of local informational sessions to be held across the greater Capital Region in order to communicate with individuals and local businesses that have an interest in working as vendors with the casino. The sessions are expected to last from 90 to 120 minutes and will consist of a presentation followed by a question and answer session. The first session will be held at the Trinity Alliance’s Capital South Campus Center in Albany on August 4, from 5pm to 7pm. The sessions will then continue into the fall across the region.

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