I live in Albany, I love it here and I want only great things for my city but I was scratching my head a bit when I saw the news about the proposed 3.1 million dollar Skyway that Governor Cuomo announced on Monday 'will transform the Clinton Avenue ramp off the northbound side of Interstate 787 into the Albany Skyway'.  3.1 million dollars is a lot of money, and many people feel that something like this is icing on a cake;  when in reality, what Albany really needs is a better cake.  Here are 5 improvements Albany needs to make before a 3.1 million dollar Skyway.

-A shopping district in downtown Albany.  Perhaps on lower State Street in the area just south of the Capital Building.  Much like the way Saratoga Springs has shopping and cool trendy restaurants on Broadway.

-Better use of the Empire State Plaza.  Fourth of July at the Plaza is a smash.  Why not have other events there targeted to bring in the masses?  Large food festivals and a killer farmers market drive thousands to Troy on a regular basis. There’s tons of space for the same down at The Plaza but it’s mostly underutilized in my opinion.  I think a week/weekend long carnival or fair would be great as well.

-More restaurants and things to do near the Times Union center.  The new look TU Center is amazing and that multi-million dollar facelift is just awesome.  However, the area around the TU Center is a drab as ever.  I still can't believe that across the street from such a gem are boarded up buildings and little or no night life.  It was quite baron and sad.

-More parking. This is a huge concern for residents or visitors.  I live near Washington Park and that’s the number one complaint I hear from local residents.  One way to alleviate this problem is the usage of the many church parking lots in Center Square.  Open them up (for a nominal fee perhaps) and allow people to park there on days where it doesn’t interfere with Church service.  That would open up thousands of spots for people to park safely near their apartments and homes.

-Lark Street area needs to decide what it wants to be.  Are you shops and night life, residential or a combination of both?  Pick one and go for it.  Right now, there are vacated buildings where great restaurants and bars used to be.  LAX does well, and Bombers always has a nice turnout, but outside of that, Lark Street offers very little night life. In terms of residential improvements, Lark Street needs a real supermarket like a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods that urban professionals can walk to.  I’m fine with getting soda, beer, and chips from the convenient store type places, but where do I go for a variety of real groceries?