AMSTERDAM — For the first time since it was created, the city’s Tourism, Marketing and Recreation Department has “completed the loop” of the 4.2-mile Chuctanunda Creek Trail.
Rob Spagnola, the director of the department, said the creek trail has always had a problem in that the old “Mohasco Power House” is the only way to transverse the creek.
“The trail runs right along both sides of the creek. When you walk all the way to the top of the trail, you couldn’t cross the creek because this building sits there, and the only way to access the other side of the creek was to go through the building, but the building is not secure or safe for people to go through,” Spagnola said.
In 2019 the city applied for a $250,000 state grant for the Chuctanunda Creek Trail and Powerhouse Stabilization Project, which would have secured the building and a bridge that goes over the creek, but the city was not awarded the money.
Amanda Bearcroft, Amsterdam’s director of community and economic development, said people have long used the old powerhouse building, which had originally been used to generate electricity for the Mohasco factory, as a means of informally completing the trail.
“People could walk all through it, and people were vandalizing it,” she said.
Spagnola said his department was forced to cancel all of its annual citywide festival events for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, which left him with about $25,000 in “sponsor donations,” which the city uses to promote the festivals. He said he offered to give the money back to the companies that gave it, but they said to use the money to help improve the city’s recreational areas.
“Everyone said keep it for park improvements,” Spagnola said.
He said his department used the funding for antique urns and plants for the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Pedestrian Bridge, for stones at the Sassafras Park, “a big deck overlooking the water” for a new section of the Forest Avenue park, playground equipment including swings, stepping stones and climbing apparatus for the Arnold Avenue Park, a $1,500 sign for the city’s 911 memorial and to wall off the old Mohasco Power House allowing hikers to fully utilize the Chuctanunda Creek Trail safely for the first time.
“We partitioned off and closed all of the entryways, so all you can do is pass through the powerhouse, you can’t go into it,” he said. “We secured the building, so we could open up the rest of the trail. The powerhouse is an old building and we couldn’t have people walking through the building, so we partitioned it off where now you just pass through a small corridor, and it takes you to the other side of the trail.”
Spagnola did not have exact expense figures for the other park improvements besides the 911 sign when interviewed. He said the work at the powerhouse was relatively inexpensive and was done by recreation department employees.
Bearcroft said the completion of the trail will enhance its value to the city.
“The city of Amsterdam sees the Chuctanunda Creek Trail as a natural amenity with a focus on the connection between trails and the development of downtown community spaces,” she said. “As the trail progresses it not only becomes a recreational and tourism draw, but an economic booster that is attractive to developers of infill and new development.”
One of the economic development projects funded as part of Amsterdam’s $10 million Downtown Redevelopment Initiative was $288,728 to install enhanced signage, lighting, and safety measures along the downtown stretch of the Chuctanunda Creek Trail.