Clifton Park is continuing to make improvements to the Vischer Ferry Nature & Historical Preserve.
In May, the Town Board authorized a contract with engineering firm Barton & Loguidice to start construction of $285,252 worth of improvements to the preserve, including updates to the Clute’s Dry Dock area on the Erie Canal.
The money for the project, which the town received via a grant from New York state, will go to improving the parking area near Clute’s Dry Dock, and making foot access to the dock easier. The grant came from the state Marchiselli program, which provides municipalities with state funds that match federal grants for local highway and bridge capital projects.
The Clute’s Dry Dock area, Clifton Park Supervisor Phil Barrett said, used to be home to stores and houses that have since been moved. Now the area is wooded, and there is a small parking lot with some paths to the dry dock.
Barrett said the improvements will make it easier for recreational users to not only access the dry dock itself and will give them direct access to the area, as opposed to parking farther away and walking to the dock. The grant will also make parking easier at the dock.
Some of the grant money, Barrett said, will also be used to formulate plans that will improve the Ferry Drive gateway to the preserve. The parking area in that locationis not well-defined as it stands, he explained. With the improvements, people will be able to easily park and head to the trails to the east and west of the parking area.
Clifton Park received the grants in 2014, and the planning process for the Clute’s Dry Dock work took longer than expected. The delay in getting construction plans for the area was about six months Barrett said, and were largely related to an environmental review of the area going slowly because of the immediate proximity of the historic Erie Canal.
The improvements are expected to be completed by the summer of 2019, Barrett said. The next step in the process is sending the plans to the state Department of Transportation for approval.
“We expect the future improvements to add to the enjoyment of this beautiful area,” he said. “We want to make it as safe and accessible as possible.”
The Vischer Ferry Preserve area is a popular place for hikers, bicyclists, kayakers and photographers.
The improvements have been highly anticipated by area neighbors. Barrett noted that the town’s goal with the preserve is for it to be safe and easy for all people to use.
“The recreational enhancements that have been created in the Vischer Ferry Preserve have been extremely popular,” Barrett said. “We’re trying to be as many things to as many people that we can.”
The improvements to the area have already been extensive. Last year, the town completed rebuilding of a 4.4-mile trail, known as the Erie Canal towpath that also includes a pedestrian and bike bridge over Wager’s Pond.
Last year, state Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, announced a $50,000 public safety grant that will build a rescue boat launch for the Vischer Ferry Fire Department on the Mohawk River in the nature preserve.
“I would say the area is more popular and receiving more visitors than ever, especially since the bike path was completed last year,” Vischer Ferry General Store owner Louise McManus said.
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Categories: News, Schenectady County