GLENVILLE & SCOTIA -- Nearly $1 million in state funding awarded to the town and village last week will pay for significant recreational improvements on the north side of the Mohawk River, along a roughly one-mile path between Freemans Bridge Road and Freedom Park in Scotia.
This year's Regional Economic Development Council awards included $445,489 for Glenville for design and construction of improvements to an existing but deteriorated bike path along the river, including upgraded stormwater drainage, directional and interpretive signage, and widening and repaving of the trail, which runs through wooded or open land.
The village of Scotia, meanwhile, is receiving two grants of $204,740 and $194,875 to make improvements at its end of that trail and in nearby Collins Park, which surrounds Collins Lake and offers both active and passive recreational opportunities.
Scotia Mayor Thomas Gifford said officials from both the town and village have been working together on a plan, and he hopes to see work start in 2020.
"I think you'll find we'll move forward pretty quickly," Gifford said. "We've been working on it for a year already. We're excited about it."
Separately, the town received a $434,000 Safe Routes to Schools grant to cover the cost of building sidewalks around three public schools in three different school districts located in different parts of town: Sacandaga Elementary School just outside Scotia; the Glencliff Elementary School in Alplaus; and the O'Rourke Middle School in the Burnt Hills-Ballston School District.
"We're actually very thrilled about this," said Glenville Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle.
Both Gifford and Koetzle said they have regularly received complaints about the safety of students who have to walk to those schools, as they are walking at the same time that parents are dropping students off and buses are arriving. The town, village, three three school districts and two counties -- Saratoga and Schenectady -- all supported the application.
Sacandaga Elementary is also near the Scotia-Glenville secondary schools, which are located in Glenville just outside the village. Many of the students walk from Scotia. "We've been pushed for years to do something about Broad Street going to the schools, but then the question is how to pay for it, it's half in the village, and half in the town," Gifford said. "This will allow us to do that project."
The rehabilitation of the paved path between Freemans Bridge and Scotia -- dubbed by the state as the Scotia-Glenville Hudson-Mohawk Bike-Hike Trail -- will connect the Scotia parks by foot and cycle to the statewide Empire State Trail bike trail system, once the state adds a bike lane on the Freemans Road Bridge in 2021. Koetzle said the town has applied for funding four times before, and nearly gave up, but is very happy to have received the award.
"This little link actually connects us to a much bigger regional path, and that's huge," he said.
The work on Schonowee Avenue, at the Scotia end of the trail, will also including repairing the historic foundation remnants of the Burr Bridge, which was the primary river crossing between Scotia and Schenectady from 1808 until construction of the Western Gateway Bridge in the 1920s. Plans also include making a more park-like setting around the abutment, which is close to the Schonowee Avenue trailhead. A parking lot also will be developed at the trailhead.
The funding for Collins Park includes money for access for the disabled and other improvements. The new award will complement a $713,000 state grant awarded last spring for sidewalks or paths on the Washington Avenue side of the park.
The state grants will require a local share, but Gifford said the town and village hope most of that can come from in-kind services of municipal employees and equipment.
The four grant awards come as Glenville is starting to move forward with a $50,000 state-funded study to develop a townwide recreation trail plan, called the Greenway Strategic Development Plan. Town officials and their consultants will launch the effort with a public workshop to discuss ideas for future multi-use path and trail connections. The workshop will be from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the Glenville Senior Center on Worden Road.
"This is a great opportunity for residents to come share their ideas on how we can continue to make Glenville a more pedestrian-friendly community as we look to expand our pedestrian trail system townwide," Koetzle said.
The meeting is the first for public input as the trail plan gets underway. Koetzle said he hopes to see the plan completed by the second half of 2020. "We really want it done this year. Things are moving ahead nicely for making Glenville a more walkable community," he said.
The plan is being developed by Behan Planning and Design of Saratoga Springs, along with the Chazen Group, engineers. The event will feature a short presentation on existing trails in town, along with the goals for the townwide planning process. The goal will be to identify three priority multi-use path/trail segments that the town and village of Scotia can seek to fund.
Koetzle noted that the town has in recent years built a number of off-road paths. The Glenridge Road path opened earlier this year, and last year a path was completed between Indian Meadows Park on Droms Road and the Andersen Dog Park on Van Buren Road.
"We've been focused the last year or so on building out our walkable environment, and the residents are loving it," Koetzle said.