Study finds river swallows land

GERMANTOWN—After 18 months of volunteer work, the Local Waterfront Revitalization Study Committee reported its Issues, Opportunities, Visions and Strategies draft at the March 13 Town Board meeting.

The committee was charged and funded for a study, not for a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, as reported in The Columbia Paper on March 15. The study is not regulatory, as an LWRP would be.

Funds consisted of $15,000 in a 50% matching grant from the state Department of State. The match did not have to be cash; it could be labor, including that of volunteers.

Speaking for the committee, Chairwoman Jennifer Crawford said that the group’s two visioning sessions had found strong public support for the town’s riverfront parks and access.

The committee addressed a “big matrix,” she said, looking at the riverfront in general and specifically at Lasher Park and boat dock in North Germantown; the Cheviot hamlet boat dock and park; an area they dubbed “Ice Dock,” on the river between the two parks; the Dales Bridge Recreation Area on the Roe Jan Creek; and Palatine Park in the Germantown hamlet.

Ms. Crawford said the committee found that the waterfront links the town’s past and future, and helps to identify the community.

Based on the public meetings, the committee recommends several “key projects”: First, an ongoing waterfront action committee. “Next month we will recommend people for that committee,” said Ms. Crawford. “We are looking for a town board member to join.”

Addressing erosion at Lasher Park is urgent, she said. “Once you lose land, it’s very difficult to fill that in because it’s now part of the river, not your park.”

“We’re losing land at Lasher very quickly,” added Martin Overington, a committee member. “The next step is to have an engineer from DEC [the state Department of Environmental Conservation] look at it. We’re working on that.”

At Cheviot Park the problem is the invasive water chestnut growth that occurs every summer. While this probably cannot be halted, Ms. Crawford said after the meeting, it could be controlled.

In addition, the committee recommends improving the Ice Dock parcel as a primitive water camping site; improving Lasher for kayak access, and adding an osprey platform there; returning swimming to Palatine Park, as urged by public input; improving the path between the Roe Jan Creek and the pavilion at the Dales Bridge park; and, in a future vision, building a boardwalk out to the water at Lasher Park, since the Committee discovered that the town owns the land beneath the water.

“This grant was just a start, so the community could study the waterfront and see what it wanted,” said Philip Williams, another committee member. “That’s why we encourage an ongoing committee. Germantown is one of the few towns in Columbia County that is uniquely tied to the river.

“Budget is important,” he added, “but this is an important resource for the town.”

Supervisor Robert Beaury thanked the committee for “18 months of work. This is very important,” he said; “we can get behind it.”

The committee holds its final meeting Tuesday, March 27 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall, to finalize its report. All of the committee’s reports are on the town website, germantownny.org, under “Community.”

In other business, the Town Board:

• Used the short State Environmental Quality Review form for the proposed amendment to the sewer district map. The board found no environmental impact in the map change.

The board adopted the proposed map and order as a resolution subject to a permissive referendum. That is, the resolution takes effect automatically 30 days after the March 13 vote, unless at least 5% or 100 of property owners in the district, whichever is the lesser number, file a petition with the Town Clerk protesting the resolution and requesting that the matter be submitted to property owners in the district and proposed extension at a referendum in the manner provided by town law

• Gave permission to Mr. Beaury to write to Amtrak on behalf of the town regarding proposed gates and fences along the riverfront

• Learned from councilman John Kukon that the February 28 meeting on restoring the town’s ballfields went well, and the Maintenance Department was ready to go with improvements, but the March storms delayed progress

• Heard that the County Planning Board did not have a quorum for its February meeting, so the town’s revised Comprehensive Plan will be considered at the March meeting

• Discussed new building fees and, having a lot of questions, decided to discuss the new fees with building inspector/code enforcement officer Jay Trapp at the April 10 meeting

• In lighting updates from Mr. Beaury, learned that the new streetlights in the hamlet will be turned on once the weather is warmer, and that the municipal parking now has functional lighting, but the timer needs to be adjusted

• Thanked the first responders who worked during the last two storms, and the volunteers who staffed the warming station in Town Hall during the most recent March storm

• Called for volunteers for a new committee to help spruce up the town campus with lights, landscaping and possibly some painting; those interested should call Town Hall, 518-537-6687

• In “save the dates,” the 21st annual Riversweep is set for Saturday, May 5 from 9 a.m. to noon; volunteers are sought to meet at Lasher Park, wearing boots and gloves; Independence Day will be celebrated Saturday, June 30 (rain date July 1), with fireworks; again, volunteers are needed.

The full board and about 20 people attended the meeting. The next meeting is Tuesday, April 10 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

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