GLOVERSVILLE – The Gloversville Common Council is set to vote on a resolution to solicit bids for an independent contractor for an improvement project at Elk Street Park to provide new fencing and a gate to seal off the paved DPW vehicle pathway that runs through three nearby city-owned parcels that are being added to the park.
Third Ward Councilwoman Betsy Batchelor is the sponsor for the resolution for the Elk Street Park project, located in her ward. She said the project will be paid for from the $250,000 Environmental Justice Fund portion of Gloversville’s $1.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). She said the city government and a committed group of volunteers has been working steadily to improve the Elk Street Park for the last several years, and this latest project will tie-together some of those efforts.
“I got involved because of the front of the park, which has the basketball court on (East) Fulton Street. We raised money to have it resurfaced. We had new lines painted on it. We had new webbing for the fencing going around it,” she said. “There’s a connection between the (East) Fulton Street and the Washington Street side, and we have a curving path (that was) put in there that, unfortunately, attracted people who wanted to race dirt bikes and all sorts of things in there, so we had to block it off.”
According to the resolutions sponsored by Batchelor, the Elk Street Park improvement project scope includes: the installation of approximately 200-feet of four-foot black aluminum fencing with one eight-foot tall gate and one five-foot tall gate built to seal-off the paved pathway. The project will also replace 186-feet of concrete sidewalk in front of the park, replacing curbs as needed and also adding some terraces for new trees.
Mayor Vince DeSantis said historically the Elk Street Park was only located near Market Street, with all of it on East Fulton Street side where the basketball court is located. He described the expansion of the park in recent years.
“A few years ago there was a county tax foreclosure on Washington Street that was on the county’s demolition list for an abandoned house, and so we approached the county and purchased that from the county and the county took the building down and conveyed the property to the city,” DeSantis explained. “It was a straight shot from the Elk Street Park to (the former county-owned parcel) on Washington Street, but there was another parcel that was in the middle that had been abandoned for a long time — that was kind of land-locked — and we purchased that from the owner. (Then) we owned all of that land right to Washington Street, and we recently just purchased a vacant lot to the uphill side, which is to the east, and that enlarged the area the city owns on Washington Street dramatically. So now, our project is to develop that park, to expand that park all the way to Washington Street.”
DeSantis said residents in the neighborhood of the planned Washington Street expansion of Elk Street Park were consulted and the consensus view was support for a children’s playground for young toddlers. He said to properly execute that plan the city needs to fence off the paved pathway it created for DPW vehicles through the parcels of the expanded park.
“We had established a walkway that was a paved path all the way through the former, what had traditionally been the Elk Street Park, all the way to Washington Street, and so now we have to fence that off so kids can’t run into the street, so it can be a place for children and families, with picknic tables and trees,” he said. “That middle area between the East Fulton Street side and the Washington Street side had been like a ‘catch-all.’ It was full of debris, old tires and trash, and there had been a walking path through there from when the house had been torn down, and people were using it as a short-cut to get from one place to another without having to go around the block. So, last summer the DPW got in there, cleaned everything up, sort of (leveled the land), so we could establish this blacktop path between the two areas. Now, because there was this pathway with no fence, people were going through there will all-terrain vehicles.”
City Clerk Jenni Mazur said when the pathway was widened and paved there was an unintended consequence of more people using more vehicles on that path, which exacerbated complaints that people in the neighborhood had about the pathway.
“Last fall the city put up a chain across both sides of the pathway to remediate that issue,” she said. “The permanent fix on the Washington Street side will be a two sided fence that runs down the length of city property along Washington Street and on the east border of the park. Since the Recreation Commission is planning to put in toddler-aged equipment this will also serve as a safety measure from being so close to Washington Street.”
Batchelor said the “Tot lot” that the city plans to build is similar to the park created by the city Recreation Commission on Spring Street.
“I’m confident they will do as good a job as they did on Spring Street,” Batchelor said of the Recreation Commission.
Mazur said the Recreation Commission began a program of using its city-events to raise funds for park improvements in 2019, but the program was suspended in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. She said in 2021 the Recreation Commission raised about $8,000 plus a $500 donation that it plans to combine and use to purchase age-appropriate playground equipment to be placed on the city-owned lot that is being used for the Washington Street expansion of Elk Street Park.
“Once the improvements in the bid packet are complete, the Recreation Commission will be working with community members to purchase toddler and preschool aged playground equipment to be placed in that park,” she said.