NISKAYUNA — Mohawk River State Park in Niskayuna is a popular destination for local hikers who can take advantage of the park’s miles of trails, but needed upgrades on the property have the town weighing an acquisition of the state park.
At a ribbon-cutting event in Niskayuna on Nov. 3 for the new tennis and pickleball court at Avon Crest Park, Assemblymember Phil Steck announced that the town is exploring acquiring the park from the state in order to conduct renovations on the site.
“One thing that’s really interesting is Mohawk River Park, which is a state park that the state doesn’t do anything with,” Steck said on Thursday. “They don’t maintain it. We did have a meeting with the state about trying to get the park transferred to Niskayuna because the town is willing to maintain it. But one thing about the state bureaucracy is that it’s known for its stubbornness. Their attitude was, ‘It’s great if you’d maintain it, but we’d still like to own it.’ But then what’s the point? If Nisky’s going to do the work, why shouldn’t they have the property?”
Niskayuna Town Supervisor Jaime Puccioni said the town has begun exploring the possibility of obtaining the state park.
“We’re working together and looking at the possibility of the town taking ownership of the Mohawk River State Park,” she said on Nov. 3. “It’s currently a state park and it’s a park that’s in need of improvements and repairs. I’ve been in contact with the regional director of New York State Parks and Recreation and we’ve been in conversation about that park and Niskayuna possibly taking ownership of it. And receiving additional grant funds to make improvements to that.”
Dan Keefe, Director of Public Affairs for the office of New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation agency, said on Friday that the state is seriously weighing the possibility of conveying the park to the town.
“The Town of Niskayuna has expressed interest in assuming management and maintenance responsibilities for the open space known as Mohawk River State Park,” Keefe noted in a statement. “We are seriously considering the request and exploring the procedural requirements to enact a transfer of jurisdiction to the Town of Niskayuna, while ensuring the property will remain publicly accessible open space.“
Keefe explained that the town could respond more nimbly to community needs and emergencies at the site than the state.
While unveiling the upgrades to the town’s pickleball courts, Steck said he hoped that legislation could be passed in the Assembly and State Senate that would allow Niskayuna to acquire the park and perform renovations.
The 105-acre park, which was acquired by the state in 2006, contains a variety of terrains that appeal to nature lovers, but Puccioni said portions of the park are in need of attention.
“I’m an avid hiker and when I can’t make it up to the Catskills or the Adirondacks I hike locally,” the supervisor said. “We have something called the Niskayuna nine, which are popular trails in and close to Niskayuna that our high school outdoor club has created a challenge to hike all nine. One of the places I really like to go is the Mohawk River State Park. But there are areas of that park that are in need of repairs. So even before I came into office, it was something that I took note of.”
The state park, which is adjacent to the town’s wastewater treatment plant, is currently open to the public but the town hopes that potentially acquiring the property could allow for faster upgrades to the park.
“We’re in discussions about the possible next steps,” Puccioni said.