© 2023 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Rensselaer County railroad station renamed after former Senator

New signage revealing the renaming of the Albany-Rensselaer Rail Station to the Joseph L. Bruno Rail Station
Samantha Simmons
New signage revealing the renaming of the Albany-Rensselaer Rail Station to the Joseph L. Bruno Rail Station

Political supporters and one-time foes gathered in Rensselaer today as the train station was renamed for the late State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.

Not far from the minor league baseball stadium in Troy that already bears Bruno’s name, the Rensselaer Rail Station got an update Tuesday.

Bruno served in the New York State Senate for more than three decades and wielded significant clout as Majority Leader from 1994 until his retirement in 2008 and was one of the principals in Albany’s annual budget wars.

Bruno, who died in 2020, is remembered for his focus on the upstate economy, including securing funding for major infrastructure projects like Albany International Airport and millions of dollars for rail.

Speakers at the ceremony remembered Bruno as a “doer.” The Capital District Transportation Authority owns and operates the Amtrak station. CDTA CEO Carm Basile says the station serves nearly a million people a year despite its humble beginnings.

“Senator Joseph Bruno dedicated his life to service and to ensuring that the Capital Region was competitive in every arena — business, education, recreation, and tourism,” Basile said. “He understood the importance of our transportation infrastructure and the need for people to make easy connections, easy connections to economic opportunity.”

Basile says as the region continues to develop, renaming the station ensures Bruno’s legacy lives on.

 “It encourages people to think about the transportation infrastructure in our community,” Basile said. “How do we move? How do we get along? how do we get to economic opportunities? How do we get to work, shop, and play? And the Senator I think kept that foremost in his mind and in his thinking.”

 Former Democratic Governor David Paterson referred to Bruno as “one of the five best friends” he’s ever had. Paterson, a party leader in the Senate before his rapid ascent to lieutenant governor and then governor in 2008, says although he and Bruno were on opposite sides of the political aisle, they were able to put aside their differences and form a true friendship.

“They say that service to others is how we mark our place on this planet and Joe Bruno certainly did not leave this planet without giving as much service to others as anyone that I ever met,” Paterson said. “They say that people look at things as they are and ask ‘why?’ Joe Bruno saw things that never were and asked ‘why not?’”

Bruno’s long-time press secretary Marcia White, now the President of the College of Saint Rose in Albany, spoke on behalf of the family.

“Never in his public life did he fail to decide when it was time to decide,” White said. “Always positioning himself on the frontlines, whether it’s serving in Korea or serving in the political arena, he walked, talked, and looked like a political leader.”

Elsewhere in Rensselaer County, on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College, is Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, or "The Joe." The stadium was built in 2002 thanks to millions in state funding steered by Bruno.

Liza Bruno is one of Bruno’s eight grandchildren. Bruno also has one great-grandchild.

“He affected so many people and it was great to hear from so many of them today and it’s a lasting legacy that we’ll remember forever,” Bruno said.

Such a renaming didn’t always seem likely. In 2009, Bruno began the legal battle that dominated the last years of his life. He was indicted on a number of corruption charges. He was acquitted on some and convicted of two counts of mail and wire fraud. The convictions were later overturned but retried. The Republican was ultimately cleared in 2014.

He died in 2020 at the age of 91 following a battle with cancer.

Samantha joined the WAMC staff after interning during her final semester at the University at Albany. A Troy native, she looks forward to covering what matters most to those in her community. Aside from working, Samantha enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and cat. She can be reached by phone at (518)-465-5233 Ext. 211 or by email at ssimmons@wamc.org.