Town names new park

Once upon a time, Mohican Indians and other natives hunted the land and fished its shores. Now Bethlehem residents can forgo the moccasins and hike, bike and trek their way across parkland in present-day Glenmont with a pair of Nikes.

On Wednesday, March 11, senior landscape architect Kathy Simmons of Clough Harbor and Associates updated the Bethlehem Town Board on transforming what was formerly known as Simmons Road Park into a nature preserve.

The board unanimously named the park, given to the town by the federal government, the Moh He Con Nuck Preserve.

The parcel itself is located at 45 River Road along its western edge, residential properties are along the northern side, the Hudson River along the eastern side and the Job Corps property is to the south, Simmons said.

The town has received a matching grant from Scenic Hudson, a not-for-profit organization that helps preserve open space in river communities, to upgrade the 53-acre plot of parkland for public access.

Simmons said a site analysis identified "several pockets of wetland" and that a "power line and utility pole bisect the site and go right down the middle." She said the existing site has a lake, large knoll in the middle, a stand of evergreens 60-70 feet tall and some other "considerable topography."

"There's a steep slope that goes down to the river before you can get down to river access," she told board members. "There's about 130 feet of grade change between the high point of the site and the river's edge."

There are still some details to be worked out before trailblazing can begin, she said.

"While the parcel itself is 53 acres in size, it's bisected by a strip of land believed still to be held by the Job Corps property," Simmons said. "This section of land apparently is not owned by the town at this time. We have 50 acres and one parcel of approximately 3 acres, and we're in the process right now of figuring out if the town has access rights over this piece of land to actually get to the river."

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