Improvements are on their way to River Road Park with the town board's unanimous approval of spending $75,000 for new, state-of-the-art playground equipment, and officials are also taking a closer look at expanding trails there as part of a townwide safe routes plan.
The playground equipment vote on Tuesday, July 17, comes after a deal was worked out by Liz Orzel Kasper, head of the board's Parks and Recreation Committee, in which Schenectady County will reimburse the town for its cost.
Officials say the equipment should be installed before the year is over.
Prior to the vote, Kasper had several face-to-face meetings with County Legislator Susan Savage, D-Niskayuna, and other top officials to iron out terms of the deal. She praised the discussions as an example of cooperation between different levels of government.
I am confident we are going to be able to get this worked out, the town will get reimbursed and we will have this equipment in place for our kids within the next several months, Kasper said.
Purchase of the new equipment comes as town officials are taking steps to improve access to the park through implementing recommendations from Niskayuna's Safe Routes Committee. Focusing on making the suburban community completely accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists, the committee has called for expanding the network of trials in River Road Park and connecting those trails to Rosendale Elementary School.
That proposal ran into some resistance earlier this year when a local group of cross country runners expressed concern that paving over existing trails could make it more difficult for runners to use them. Several town residents who live near the park also said they were opposed to any steps that would adversely impact the character of the park.
"We are looking at expanding the existing trails so that they connect with Rosendale School and tie-in to the broader network of trails we have throughout Niskayuna," said Bill Chapman, the town board's liaison to the committee. "We are being very thorough and very careful to make sure that we are not disturbing the natural habitat as we move forward.
"We know there are some real concerns about the impact this could have on the environment in the park, and we will be bringing in a consultant who can help us with determining the exact trail route that will be best," Chapman said. "Our concern is to implement the Safe Routes Committee's recommendations without having a negative impact upon River Road Park and we are looking forward to completing these trails."