After three years of hard work, members of a National Guard unit from Kingston will finally see their efforts pay off Friday.
Soldiers from the New York Army National Guard’s 1156th Engineer Company will finish helping to build a park off of Vliet Street in Cohoes. The park is going in place of what was once the original route of the Erie Canal.
“We received this assignment three years ago,” said 1st Lt. Nina Vanyo, who’s in charge of the project. “My command, our engineer battalion, had received the assignment from the city of Cohoes as an opportunity for us to train on our equipment, an opportunity of course to interact with the community.”
Vanyo and her soldiers received this assignment as part of their annual training, which occurs for two weeks every summer. Soldiers go through training specific to their specialization during that time. The soldiers in the 1156th Engineer Company focused on different projects throughout the state that required engineering work.
Working at the Cohoes site has proved to be helpful towards their duty in the battlefield.
“You’re getting the opportunity to operate heavy equipment. You actually have on-hand type of work going on,” said Sgt. Howard Weed. “These guys are out in the field. They’re doing their job, doing work other than staying inside doing book work, sitting around listening to classes. Now you’re on-hand, you’re doing it. It’s something now that they know how to do. They’re learning it better, they’re improving their skills.”
The soldiers working in Cohoes have been focusing on the restoration of the area the past three summers.
“Our role here for the last three years while we’ve been here during annual training [has been] a lot of brush vegetation clearing. Particularly the first two years that we were here, there was a lot of larger thick trees. We removed a lot of debris from what was the old canal,” said Vanyo. “We’ve been working with the city engineers. We’re trying to divert some of [the puddles of water] so that it’s not standing stagnant. We’re going to put some drainage pipes in this week.”
Aside from the vegetation and drainage work, the soldiers will also be doing some grading work.
Both the city and the National Guard hope this project will bring a new sense of pride to Cohoes and its residents.
“[The city’s] objective is to make it an area where the residents or anyone can walk their dogs, use it basically as a park-type facility,” said Vanyo. “Because of its historical significance, that brings greater draw, greater intrigue [and] gives it a bit more meaning, rather than just a park.”
Even though the construction has not finished, the park is open to residents.