SCHENECTADY – The City Council on Monday accepted a six-figure gift from the county for add-on items for a newly built park in a neighborhood with quality of life needs.
The council also authorized close to $4 million in state funding, and added a new street, while the council president gave an update on resuming in-person meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
First, the council accepted $100,000 from Schenectady County for an expanded one-acre park that once sat in the shadows of six dilapidated buildings.
Schenectady was awarded funding from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation of $354,735 for improvements at Orchard Park in the Mont Pleasant neighborhood.
Through outreach with the community, it was determined that the community priorities for the park included a walkway, playground equipment, picnic tables, lighting, a new basketball court, and a pavilion with grills.
As part of the grant match requirements, and included in the scope of the grant award, the city also performed extensive work in the park, including demolishing surrounding blighted properties to increase the access and visibility into the park, installing new sidewalks on adjacent streets, removing brush and unneeded fencing, and grading the site.
The $100,000 investment from Schenectady County will be used to pay for features on the project that couldn’t be completed with the initial funding. This phase includes additional lighting, the basketball court and goalpost, additional playground equipment, and other site amenities.
Councilwoman Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas said the work in the park will be “transformational for that area,” and she looked forward to seeing it completed.
In another matter, the council held a public hearing that garnered no feedback and then accepted ownership of Barrett’s Village Lane.
A coalition of private developers created the “Live in Schenectady” housing development on Barrett Street. The properties created were new homes with single-car garages off a cul-de-sac at the rear of the properties. The city’s engineering department worked with the developer and inspected the road and sanitary utilities to be turned over to the city. About half of the development has been built.
In addition, the council authorized Commissioner of Finance Anthony Ferrari to deposit and increase the capital budget by $2.1 million for the state Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program, extreme winter recovery and PAVE New York programs.
The council also passed Councilman John Polimeni’s sponsored item requesting the state attorney general to send cease and desist letters to firework companies that target New York tate residents, despite the state not allowing private fireworks except for sparklers that are subject to county approval.
Polimeni said at a previous committee meeting that his proposal is intended to crack down on out-of-state fireworks companies that target city and state residents for purchase of fireworks.
Regarding future in-person council meetings, Council President John Mootooveren said he met with the city clerk, mayor and staff recently, and he learned that the city is waiting for a specific City Hall room to meet federal CDC guidelines and compliance concerning the pandemic. Once that is completed, the council will review the status of in-person meetings. Mootooveren said discussion on the matter will be included with the next committee agenda cycle.
The council has been meeting virtually since the pandemic began in March 2020.