COPAKE FALLS–Tree cutting and excavating at the entrance to the Taconic State Park on Route 344 is now underway.
The flurry of activity is in preparation for the construction of a new building about 50-by-50 feet that will house a park office, a visitor check-in and information center.
The project, officially called the Taconic State Park, Copake Falls Gateway Project, also includes a parking area near the new building and new walkways to swimming areas and to the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, according to Raymond Doherty, the general park manager of the Taconic State Park.
The project started the week before Thanksgiving and is expected to be finished by Memorial Day 2011 in time for the first long weekend of the warm weather season.
Though the Copake Falls park has the distinction of being the first Taconic State Park in the region, established in 1927, it has never had a “proper entryway” or a “real office” outside of the park manager’s home, said Mr. Doherty.
The Taconic State Park Region is on the east side of the Hudson River and extends from Westchester, through Putnam, Dutchess and Columbia counties.
For about the last 10 years, the Copake Falls park office has been in a small trailer parked near the entrance, he said.
Though these tight fiscal times hardly seem like the right time for the state to embark upon this $632,000 project, Mr. Doherty said, 80% of the price tag was donated specifically for the project by Dr. Lucy R. Waletzky of Westchester County, a longtime park advocate, who serves voluntarily as chair of the New York State Council of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and chair of the Taconic Commission.
The free parking area on the west side of the rail trail will not “stay or go” as a result of this project, Mr. Doherty said.