Saranac River Trail projects receive grant funding

PHOTO PROVIDEDA conceptual design of the proposed River Street Park. Those involved with the project hope to begin work before summer ends.

SCHUYLER FALLS — If all goes as planned, the Town of Schuyler Falls will soon have another park to help draw in residents.

The town hopes to begin work on a proposed River Street park by the beginning of August, according to Town Supervisor Richard Potiker.

The property that the town plans to use was the same land bought out by the federal government following an ice jam on the Saranac River in January of 1996 that flooded most of the homes in the area.

The town has had the deed to the land since then.

GREENWAY SPURS

“The only thing that that property can be used for, according to the buyout, is public use,” Potiker said. “We had been looking (to use) the property since I became supervisor.”

The park is one of the final two planned “spurs” of the Saranac River Trail Greenway, and will include a 24-by-40-foot Adirondack style pavillion with picnic tables and four grilling stations, and a half-mile groomed trail that will meet Americans with Disabilities Act criteria for use by all ages and abilities.

Potiker credited most of the legwork of getting the project going to Laurie Williams, project manager and grant writer for the Foundation of CVPH.

“We want to bring families and children out,” Williams said.

“They can walk the path, they can walk all along the river, they can walk through the woods.”

 

Williams recently helped secure a $200,000 grant from the New York State Health Foundation, a philanthropic organization run by the state that helps fund projects with money that insurance companies are mandated to pay to the state to contribute to community health improvement.

She had previously worked with the health foundation when she helped the Town of Plattsburgh with their “spur” at LaPierre Lane.

“The health foundation then invited us to apply for funding for the Saranac and Schuyler falls spurs,” Williams said.

This new $200,000 grant will be granted to the foundation over a two year period — July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021 — to be used in Schuyler Falls, as well as at the Town of Saranac’s Town Green.

“These dollars come into the Foundation of CVPH,” Williams said. “They’re the lead agency for oversight, and the fiscal agency.”

NO TAXPAYER FUNDS

On top of the $200,000, Williams said that both towns applied for and received $10,000 in Clinton County tobacco settlement money, and $18,000 that the Foundation of CVPH had leftover from the LaPierre Lane project was split between the towns evenly as well.

“There’s absolutely no taxpayer money (being used for the project),” Williams said.

“Because there is no taxpayer money involved with this, it’s definitely an easier public-private partnership to establish.”

Any leftover funds will be used to add additional features at either location, Williams added.

FUTSAL COURT

The Saranac Town Green is planning to add a safety barrier along Route 3 to deter parking there, as well as replacing and adding to an informal walking trail there.

On top of the main grant, Williams has also applied for a regional Blue Cross Blue Shield grant to help fund a futsal (type of soccer) court at the River Street Park that could also be used as an ice rink in the winter.

She said that they will find out this fall if they get that money.

PUBLIC SESSIONS

Potiker said that Schuyler Falls will soon be holding public sessions to give residents a chance to provide input on these plans.

Other than that, the last hurdle will be a final sign-off from the Department of the Interior before they can begin construction.

“Now we just need the final piece of permission, which we feel confident we’ll get,” Williams said.

"Then we’ll start work in probably four to six weeks.”

THINGS TO DO

Both Potiker and Williams are hopeful for what this project can help bring to the area.

“If we do nothing else as a town, we’re providing our residents with some nice things they can do,” Potiker said.

“Anything we can do to get the kids and adults out of the home and away from the TV and computers is a plus.”

 Email Ben Watson:

bwatson@pressrepublican.com