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Bethlehem waterfront plan readies for review

After months of review and revisions, the Bethlehem Town Board will get a look at the town's local waterfront revitalization plan later this month.

A presentation is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 24, in advance of finalizing the waterfront study, which will occur in 2008.

We are at a point where we feel the town board should be brought in on what we've done, said Rob Holzman, representing Saratoga Associates, the consultants hired to work with the waterfront committee on the project.

The nine-member committee has been meeting since November 2006. Its formation was based on a recommendation by the town's updated comprehensive plan, approved in 2005. The panel is tasked with conducting an inventory of waterfront resources, formulating a master plan for the Henry Hudson Park, identifying significant waterfront issues and developing policy.

The committee's Tuesday, Oct. 2, meeting included policy review based on a set of standards from the state Department of State, the agency in charge of inland waterfront development. The presentation to the town board will include a 15-minute summary of work the committee has completed.

A Nov. 7 public meeting in town hall will allow the community to comment on the waterfront plan, which is available for review. The plan will then be sent to the state for final revision.

"We are really looking at mid-winter for adoption of the (plan)," said George Leveille, town economic development director.

Areas reviewed in the yearlong study include the potential of directly connecting Route 9W to the waterfront, redeveloping the Job Corps site and providing visitors with a pedestrian network system connecting natural areas with historic resources. Once the waterfront study is complete, Bethlehem will join other Capital District communities that also have a local waterfront revitalization plan along the Hudson River.

"Albany, East Greenbush and Troy all have LWRP's (local waterfront revitalization plans)," said Jamie Reppert, coastal resource specialist with the Department of State.

Reppert, who is providing the town with assistance during the planning process, said there are several reasons why Bethlehem should have a waterfront plan.

"There is policy advantages and funding advantages," said Reppert.

Once Bethlehem's LWRP is complete and approved by the town board, specific areas will be identified for potential state or federal funding through grant opportunities.""

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