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New York News

Schenectady Park Gets Major Upgrade

Orchard Park under construction in Schenectady
Lucas Willard
/
WAMC
Orchard Park under construction in Schenectady

Officials in Schenectady hope to make a pocket park more visible with a major renovation and expansion.

Orchard Park has been a pocket park for years In Schenectady but you may not have noticed it.

The park off Crane Street was obscured behind dilapidated buildings and was overshadowed by drug use and other negative aspects.

Now, fulfilling a long-awaited vision, the park will be expanded with new surfaces and access from Crane St. and Second Ave. Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy spoke at a press conference Wednesday…

“It’s been years in the making. This was identified as part of the Comprehensive Plan as a priority of Mont Pleasant well over a decade ago. We’re going to add great access, as you can see here. You’re the first ones to walk on this so you’re part of the history of the new park,” said McCarthy.

The project is being made possible by $1.3 million in funding.

Schenectady County provided $100,000 in funding, part of a greater effort to improve parks throughout the city.

The largest share of investment, more than half a million dollars, came from the Capital Region Land Bank, which demolished six structures surrounding the park.

Rich Ruzzo is a Schenectady County legislator and chairs the Capital Region Land Bank.

“We’re excited to continue to do this projects. We’re happy to be part of these projects. And we can’t tell you how much we look forward to partnering more with our neighborhood leaders, our community leaders, and our entire community to bring more of these projects together,” said Ruzzo.

Additionally, the city received more than $350,000 in funding from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic preservation.

Plans for the improved park include a multi-use path, playground equipment, a dog park, electrical and lighting, as well as a paved parking area.

Landscape Architect Mary Moore Wallinger of firm Land Art Studio helped redesign the park, which sat empty for years.

“We heard a story from a resident who shall not be named, who actually was using the park at the time to teach his son how to drive because it was so invisible and nobody knew it was here that you could literally drive a car in and drive around and not have to worry about anything. So, now I love to think about the idea that this is a place where you can bring your kids and teach them how to ride a bicycle and it will be nice wide, flat paths,” said Wallinger.

There will also be new landscaping and the planting of 17 trees, donated by organization ReTree Schenectady. In all the project will expand the pocket park by .85 acres.

As heavy equipment worked in the background, the officials put shovels in the ground to mark transformation now underway. 

lucas_wllard_weekend_land_bank_5-14-21.mp3
Lucas Willard speaks with the Capital Region Land Bank Board Chair Richard Ruzzo and Executive Director David Hogenkamp

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