Riverlink Park is unfinished business

Riverlink Park might look complete, but the waterfront recreation area is only halfway done.

Riverlink Park might look complete, but the waterfront recreation area is only halfway done.

The city is still waiting for a $350,000 grant from the state Dormitory Authority, promised two years ago by then-assemblyman Paul Tonko, to finish the project.

The city’s grant writer, Nick Zabawsky, said it came to his attention earlier this year that the city needed to file a formal application to receive the money, so he completed one in January.

“Hopefully we’ll hear very soon,” Zabawsky said.

Marc Violette, spokesman for the Dormitory Authority, said the money probably won’t be released for a while.

“We are in the process of reviewing the proposed project to determine whether it qualifies for funding under the guidelines for this legislative program,” Violette said.

Assuming the project clears the first hurdles, Violette said, the proposal goes back to the Capitol, where legislators and the governor have the opportunity to comment on the project.

After that, the Dormitory Authority receives authorization to create a contract with the city, and assuming the city accepts the contract, the authority releases the money.

“I think we’re looking at several months,” Violette said. “Some aspects of the process we control and some we don’t.”

The first phase of Riverlink Park, which includes the structures visible now, was completed in 2001. The second phase of the park would develop the grassy area to the west.

Both phases of the park included soil remediation to remove contaminants left behind by an old gas manufacturing plant.

National Grid, which took over responsibility for cleaning the soil from many similar sites, completed cleanup of the second phase in 2005.

A plastic cover was installed 18 inches into the ground to contain the soil and also prevent groundwater from getting into the soil and spreading the contaminants.

Zabawsky said developing the second phase of Riverlink Park would have to take into account the plastic soil cover, which means large trees and buildings on portions of the space wouldn’t work.

Zabawsky said if the money from the Dormitory Authority comes through, the city would have about $760,000 to complete the second phase of the park.

The rest of the money comes from a $60,000 grant from the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency and a $350,000 grant from the state Department of State thought the Environmental Conservation Fund.

Designs for the second phase of the park have already been completed and include a large lawn surrounded by shrubs. The perimeter of the property would include two structures.

Zabawsky said the design of the structures would probably be altered. He envisions a structure similar to a scaled-down version of the Thruway rest stops or like the pavilion in Veterans Park.

“It would have to coincide with the architecture already at the park,” Zabawsky said.

The second phase would also include benches and a trail that would eventually link Riverlink Park with Guy Park Manor further west along the Mohawk River.

Riverlink Park is already used for summer concerts and as a site for the Canal Corp.’s annual CanalFest, which attracts hundreds of people.

Categories: Schenectady County

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