The writer is a horticultural educator with the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Albany County.
The Village of Altamont is a square mile of quaintness and charm, but scratch the surface and you will find beautifully preserved homes rich with local history, walkable streets with gorgeous plantings and citizens who love their village and volunteer their time to keep it pristine. You will also find several parks; Benjamin Crupe Bozenkill Park, Orsini Park, Angel Park and Schilling Park. There are also many small gardens throughout the Village that dazzle the eye when driving by. It is obvious that the citizens of Altamont value green space. Each of these parks has a special focus but it is the newest park, Schilling Park on Maple Avenue, that captivates the visitor on several levels.
The property at 149 Maple Avenue has been many things since the late 1800s — a root beer processing plant for many years, a private residence, public tennis courts and vacant land. In May of 2003, the Village Board voted to keep the property “forever green” and the task of deciding how that could be integrated with village life was begun.
Through input from residents it was decided that a park was the vehicle and plans were underway. In 2005, a wrought iron arch was installed at the entranceway and plantings were established under the direction of longtime resident and volunteer gardener Keith Lee. Keith and Village Mayor James Gaughan took on the challenge of guiding the development of the park by finding creative ways to reuse materials and garner donations of plant materials and mulch.
Since 2005, the volunteer effort in the park has transformed it into a multi-use green space that gets a lot of use. It showcases what a few volunteers can do to truly make a difference in the quality of life for community residents.