Saratoga County

Riverfront park opens in Halfmoon after eight years of planning (with video)

A park along the Hudson River that was eight years in the making had its grand opening Thursday morn

A park along the Hudson River that was eight years in the making had its grand opening Thursday morning.

State and local officials and a scattering of interested members of the public were on hand to watch Town Supervisor Mindy Wormuth cut the ribbon around a small pavilion next to the river.

The pavilion, along with a boat launch, public bathroom, miniature stone lighthouse, parking lot and open field, make up the newly christened Halfmoon Lighthouse Park on Hudson River Road.

“It was a long time coming. Applying for the grants, working our way through the grants, designing the project and then to be able to stand here today, with no rain … we’re very pleased,” Wormuth said.

“It is certainly something people in the community have asked for — access to the water — and we feel like we’re providing that to them,” she said.

Located near the corner of Brookwood and Hudson River roads, the park has a small parking lot. Leading from the parking lot is a sidewalk that takes visitors to an open pavilion with picnic tables and then on to a bathroom. Adjacent to the parking lot is the stone lighthouse that the park is named after.

The lighthouse at the park is a feature left over from when the property was owned by Matthew Sgritta, who was a mason and lived there for more than fifty years. He died in 1993 and his children sold the property about 10 years later.

They say he would be very proud of the new park and said they were thrilled with the final product.

One of Sgritta’s sons, Matthew Sgritta, noted that a major change from what he remembered was the lack of tomato plants. He said his dad farmed as a hobby and had thousands of tomato plants on the property.

The tomato plants are gone, but there is still a lot of open space.

Jere Tatitch, principal of Elan Planning, Design & Landscape Architecture, which implemented the community vision for the park, said the final product was a success because there was so much community involvement.

“The design concept was to not challenge the river or landscape that was here,” Tatitch said. “We coupled it with the vision of classical design, which is reminiscent of the heyday along the shoreline.”

“We think we have a real winner here,” he said.

Andy Labruzzo of the state Department of State’s Division of Costal Resources said his office was proud to be a partner on the park project.

“This is a terrific new destination for the residents of Halfmoon and it is also a terrific enhancement for public access along the Hudson River,” he said.

Predicting into the future, Labruzzo added: ”We hope to continue that partnership into the future. The next phase of this project is under way right now … To create a new linkage between this park and the Hudson River with the Champlain canal trail.”

Echoing this hope, Wormuth said the next grant the town will be applying for is to build that path to the Champlain canal trail.

Funding for the park consisted of $266,000 from the state Division of Coastal Resources and $35,000 from the Hudson Valley Greenway. The town contributed $250,000, which came mostly from in-kind services provided by the town Highway Department, including demolishing Sgritta’s old house.

“It is open to the public and people can come down and use it,” Wormuth said.

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