GLOVERSVILLE – When city Department of Public Works Director Chris Perry looks at the “Myers Park Overlook” he sees untapped potential.
Earlier in March Perry provided the Common Council with an old black and white photo and a color postcard depicting the original 1920s-1930s look of the stone overlook built as part of the Herman Meyers Memorial Park. The park, accessible from an entrance to the Park Terrace Elementary School on Bloomington Avenue, was built in 1909 on Burr Hill and named after a traveling peddler named Herman Meyers who was known to stop and rest on that hill as he traveled through the area. Meyers resting stop afforded him a view of the slopes and plateaus of the city’s southern end, which at that time was mostly wilderness.
Today the view might be even better than it was then, if it weren’t obscured by about 12 trees, about 8 of them identified by Perry as being “in decline” or having “significant structural defects.” He said there are also some 70 to 80 foot tall white pines that have grown up over the past 110 years, effectively obscuring the view.
“There was some clearing that was done, back when the park was constructed, so with a little more clearing we can open the larger ‘viewshed’ that was in place back when that overlook was created back in 1920,” Perry said. “I think it would me a great addition to the park, to the city, and add another amenity available to the residents for them to enjoy the open view towards the Adirondack Mountains an overlooking downtown Gloversville with all its old building roof lines and historic architecture – not to mention the sunsets would be great to enjoy from that overlook.”
Perry, the city’s first DPW director to include “arborist” as part of his title, has about $50,000 to work with this year as part of a dangerous tree removal program approved by the city Common Council for the 2021 budget.
That’s half what Perry had originally requested, but enough money to begin the work of transforming Gloversville from its 1890s nickname of “Stump City” into a Tree City U.S.A., a designation granted by the Arbor Day Foundation and the U.S. Forestry Service to communities that invest at least $2 per resident of the city annually in a tree program.
Currently there are about 3,400 communities meeting the Tree City U.S.A, including Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga Springs, Cobleskill and Ithaca, and the designation will open up grant opportunities for Gloversville.
Perry said the city is going to go out to bid in about three weeks to find a company that specializes in tree removal. He said the main focus of the 2021 tree removal program will actually be in Melchoir Park.
“Melchoir Park has a lot of declining old silver maples that are hazards, right now we can’t even grant a use permit or even permit for Melchoir Park because it’s too hazardous with all of the trees, being in the condition that they are, limbs and sections break off, even if there’s no weather,” Perry said. “Basically that park is suffering from three decades of neglect, so we have to address those hazardous conditions, which will encompass most of the budget for this year, but if there’s a little extra left over we’ll tackle Meyers Park project. We may be able to do some of that in-house, but we don’t really have the best tree-removal equipment.”
This summer promises to be an unusual one for Gloversville’s DPW because the Common Council in February approved a contract with Twin Bridges Waste and Recycling, out of Clifton Park, to privatize the service, freeing up at least two DPW workers to focus on other tasks.
Perry said he plans to do a “host of repairs” at Meyers Park including a roof replacement to the park’s white gazebo, the floor and steps of which he described as rotting and not safe.
“With some upgrades it will be the premier outdoor wedding destination in the city.” he said. “We are going to add a couple concrete pads to the sides of the front entrance and install benches there for people to sit and enjoy the views.”
Perry said he believes there is a “50/50” shot he’ll be able to get the tree removal done at Meyers Park for 2021, depending on how the city’s bidding process goes.
“If not, we’ll see what trees we can get down in-house, and if there’s some large ones we can’t remove, we’ll have to postpone those for the following year, or see if we can allocate some more funds for the project from another account line within the budget,” he said.
Perry said, if he is able to return as city DPW director for 2022, the next phase of the hazardous tree removal program will target trees that need to be removed on the city’s terraces. Another part of the program will also include him replanting other tree species to replace the removed trees with trees better suited for the city’s needs and weather conditions.
“I’ve got a list of hazardous trees, so basically we’ll take a look at them and identify 20 to 25 hazardous trees on the terraces and take them down,” he said. “A couple of them are amongst power lines, so we might be able to get National Grid to help us out with a couple of them. So, we would strictly prioritize getting those 20-25 off the terraces going forward after this initial first year, and get them down before storms do.”