Gloversville’s planned spray park delayed again

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GLOVERSVILLE For the third year in a row, the planned installation of a spray park at Trail Station Park will be delayed past the summer recreation season as city officials continue to encounter problems with fulfilling the requirements of a $345,000 grant issued to the city of Gloversville by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Mayor Vince DeSantis told the Common Council Tuesday the latest hang-up with the grant is outdated information included in the deeds to the property of the former FJ & G Railroad. He said the land originally came into the city’s possession as part of New York state’s “urban renewal” efforts in the 1960s, and was transferred to a city agency called the Gloversville Urban Renewal Agency during a time period where buildings were being torn down on several city blocks, like Cottage and Clinton Streets.

“Those streets were obliterated,” DeSantis said. “That midtown plaza was built, and City Hall was moved from Main Street over to where it is now. That all happened in the 1960s, and it took about ten years. That obliterated the traditional streetscape and replaced it with what kind of looked like a suburban environment. The Gloversville Urban Renewal Agency was a creature of the city that was created to consolidate title over all of that property, all of those parcels, on Bleecker Street, Arlington Avenue, on Clinton Street, Cottage Street, Church Street, and the purpose was to collect all of the titles of that land, and then conveying them to their new owners.”

DeSantis said all of that changes made to the streets around the planned location for the spray park has meant the “meets and bounds” on the 1968 deed for the land the city presented to the state are no longer accurate.

“The [state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation] have very strict rules about mapping and making sure the city owns the land,” DeSantis said. “This property was in the name of the FJ & G Railroad first, then it was in the name of the urban renewal agency, and then from the urban renewal agency it was eventually transferred to the city, so the meets and bounds of the old deeds are very different from what the land looks like now. The street configuration was different before, and they’re having a hard time certifying that the deed parameters are exactly what they should be.”

DeSantis described the actions the city has taken to comply with the rules of the state grant.

“What we submitted [was] all of the deeds and maps, and we had it surveyed by the surveyors and all of that, but it wasn’t a slam dunk, and the person I’m dealing with at the Office of Parks and Rec said, ‘I’m going to have to send this to our attorneys and it’ll be four to six weeks, and we’ll get back to you,'” DeSantis said. “So, we can’t go out to bid until they give us the green light to do this.”

DeSantis expressed frustration at the delay.

“When I spoke to [state officials], I said ‘look, it’s obvious, if you read the deed and you look at the map, it’s crystal-clear that this is all city property,'” he said. “But, I understand [the official] has people looking over her shoulder, and she has to do her due diligence, so that’s why it’s been delayed.”

The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation grant was originally announced in 2019, and was meant to cover 75% of the cost of the project, which originally would have included a spray park featuring a non-skid, sloped floor with water jets of varying sizes to be installed at Trail Station Park in an existing area of about 7,200 square feet near the pavilions.

Originally the city had announced plans to begin work on the spray park in the spring of 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic plus the “stringent requirements” of the grant led city officials scrap that plan. The council did not formally accept the grant until January 2021, and along the way between the delays the plan for the park changed.

In 2019, Gloversville was also awarded a $78,000 Local Waterfront Revitalization Program grant through the state Department of State to study and develop a land use plan for the area surrounding the Cayadutta Creek.

Completed LWRPs are subject to approval by the New York state Department of State, but once the city’s LWRP is approved it will open up the potential for 75 percent grant funding for identified projects related to redevelopment of the waterfront and surrounding spaces.

Among the included projects in Gloversville’s LWRP process are plans for the expansion of Trail Station Park across the Cayadutta Creek into the overflow parking lot adjacent to City Hall at the corner of West Fulton Street and Frontage Road.

Lisa Nagle, of Elan Planning, Design & Landscape Architecture, is the city’s consultant for the LWRP process. She said that during the “community engagement” phase of the LWRP process members of the public had suggested that some of the triangle-shaped asphalt parking lot area near Kingsboro Towers be removed and for the spray park project to be located there instead. She said drafts of the LWRP plan have been submitted to New York state, but she has no timetable for when the state may approve the plan. She said any potential funding from the LWRP process will not affect the spray park because it already has a funding source from a different state agency.”

In 2021 former Gloversville Department of Public Works Director Christopher Perry worked with the New York state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to submit a site change and revised plans for the spray park. The revised plans included provisions for in-house labor to be performed by the DPW to remove the asphalt parking lot to meet the 25 percent funding match required by the city to access the $345,000 grant award.

Second Ward Councilman Art Simonds said the current hold-up of the project relates to the new location of the spray park, which the state has still not officially determined belongs to the city.

“I had thought this was going to be an easy process, but there have been significant delays from the state,” Simonds said.

DeSantis said he’s still hopeful the city can go out to bid to begin construction by the fall, but that won’t be in time for the summer season.

“We had expected to get this all done and go out to bid in February and begin construction in April, but it’s been delayed,” DeSantis said.

More: All NewsEverything Gloversville

By Jason Subik

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