Saratoga Springs has received a $325,000 state grant to help it develop the city’s new Waterfront Park on Saratoga Lake that was opened to the public in late August.
The money is from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and will be matched by the city for a total of $650,000 in park improvements in 2013.
“Right now we have asked a landscape architect to determine what these funds can accomplish,” Mayor Scott Johnson said on Friday.
The LA Group of Saratoga Springs created a master plan for the property four years ago but the project was delayed by the economic recession of 2008 and its aftermath.
Residents were pleased this summer when the city Department of Public Works completed initial improvements to the nearly 4-acre property off Crescent Avenue and opened it to the public.
The site has a small dock for launching non-motorized boats such as canoes and kayaks as well as picnic tables and parking for about two dozen cars.
For decades the property was the location of the popular Waterfront Restaurant, which was demolished after the city purchased the land in 2006 for $2 million using a portion of a $5 million open space bond issue passed by city voters in 2002.
The land extends from the lake up a gradual slope to Crescent Avenue.
The mayor plans to re-activate the 13-member Waterfront Park Committee to help plan the park improvements.
This committee helped develop the park master plan four years ago.
“This Waterfront Park is truly a city treasure and the only city-owned lake access,” Johnson said.
The original estimate to develop the three-level park was $1.3 million.
Johnson said the existing parking lot near the lake will be reduced in size and a larger lot will be built on a plateau near Crescent Avenue. This upper part of the property was investigated this summer by an archaeologist as part of the state’s Environmental Quality Review regulations.
Johnson said some historic artifacts, including arrowheads, were found and given to the state. He said the city is now free to develop this section of the property.
Johnson said a new loop road will be created so that people can drop off their canoe or kayak near the lake and drive back up to the parking lot proposed near Crescent Avenue.
When the Waterfront Restaurant was demolished, the city left a gazebo and a restroom building on the site for use by park patrons. Johnson said he expects an existing building on the property near Crescent Avenue will be renovated and used for an office and interpretive exhibits. Restrooms may also be added to this upper portion of the property, he said.
Johnson said the city was seeking a $400,000 state grant when it applied for the money but he is pleased with the $325,000 provided.
He said at least part of the city’s share of the matching grant will be in-kind services provided by the Department of Public Works.
“I’m proud of the efficiency and economy between my office and the Department of Public Works, to date, in making the best out of limited resources,” Johnson said in a statement about the park project.