Expansion of Riverlink Park to be unveiled at Saturday celebration

Indian figures on the “Painted Rocks” will stand watch Saturday over a celebration of the completed

Built high on a mound, the 36-foot-long concrete sculpture commemorating Native American artwork survived two rounds of Mohawk River flooding over the past month.

And on Saturday, Indian figures on the “Painted Rocks” will stand watch over a celebration of the completed Riverlink Park expansion, as the city works to pump money into disaster recovery efforts.

The cafe at the park was inundated by the river, the band shell tipped over, and in places where soil wasn’t washed away altogether, the receding river left a variety of debris. But crews from the city’s Recreation Department are expected to finish cleanup in time for an afternoon ribbon-cutting and fundraiser.

A storage shed with tables and chairs was swept away, the docks sustained major damage, electrical systems were affected and the elevator had to be repaired after the flooding as well, city Recreation Director Rob Spagnola said. But he and his team have been cleaning and making repairs, he said.

“We’re in pretty good shape,” he said, adding the park won’t look like it might during a typical early autumn day.

The grant-funded, $700,000 expansion nearly doubled the park’s size, adding a stairway, a circular sidewalk, landscaping and the sculpture by Alice Manzi and a crew of artists from Adirondack Studios of Argyle. There won’t be grass on the newer lawn areas, but everything else is complete.

“We’re very pleased,” Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane said Wednesday of the expansion, which has been roughly 12 years in the making. “To see this finally coming together is just so gratifying.”

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, considered instrumental in getting the park developed when he served in the New York State Assembly, said Wednesday the Native American symbolism is a fitting reminder of the area’s past. The sculpture includes 12 Indians standing, some holding hunting gear, and four other Indians, two each in a pair of canoes with a goose flying overhead.

“I think it’s a very powerful expression of life centuries ago that spoke to a soundness of stewardship of the environment and where there was a connectedness and where the values of that culture speak to many today,” Tonko said.

The city will welcome Bill Horning of the Mohawk Indian Nation during the event, which will also feature the Amsterdam Select Chorus and High School Band, food for sale to benefit flood victims, a bouncy-bounce and local beers and wines. Thane said visitors will get a ticket or receipt for each purchase on which they can name a specific nonprofit group to receive 20 percent of the proceeds; the remainder will be donated to flood victims.

Amsterdam High School coaches will sit on the “wet” seat over a water-filled dunk tank, and a silent auction with several prizes will go on throughout the event.

The park will open for the “afternoon of music, food and friendship” at 2 p.m., when Robert Kirham will prepare grilled foods; cider and cider donuts from Eagle Mills will also be available.

The program will begin at 3:30 p.m. with the Amsterdam High School Chorus, followed by the Marching Rams.

The event will also feature performances by Bob Motyl and Rolling Cloud Hamilton.

Categories: Schenectady County

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