How does K’hook’s garden grow? Trail tour offers look

KINDERHOOK–The Village Board hosted a full house at their special meeting Wednesday, October 23. Mayor Jim Dunham said he assumed most of the people were there to discuss the plan for Mills Park, which is on the corner of Albany and Railroad avenues. The board had presented plans for a garden and path in the park at the October 9 meeting and had asked for community input.

At the meeting last week, Mayor Dunham said that the board had received several letters, many in support of the plan but some against.

The mayor said that he felt generally people on Railroad Avenue wanted the park to stay as it is now but he said the board had received “many letters in support of Sigrid’s plan.”

Sigrid Gray, a master gardener and former horticulture director at New York City’s Battery Conservancy, has worked with a group of volunteers in Mills Park, first to make a butterfly garden and now on the new plan. Part of the new design includes the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail (AHET), which runs though the park. The 35-mile trail from the City of Rensselaer to Greenport is currently under construction, paid for by the state. It will run though the Village of Kinderhook to the Village of Valatie and the parts of the Town of Kinderhook. Mayor Dunham said the Kinderhook Village part of the trail may be completed by the spring of 2020.

A written report presented at the meeting about the Mills Park plan says that the proposal “takes an integrated approach to enhancing an in-village green space. The proposed plan enhances the park’s use as a pedestrian and dog-walking destination, a picnicking area, a butterfly habitat and observation/education garden, bike trail and village point of entry for cyclists on the bike trail, and a demonstration space for sustainable and environmentally friendly horticultural and maintenance practices.”

The plan includes a 72” wide walking path, picnic bench and seating areas, and access area to dog bags. “Periphery along Albany Avenue and Railroad Avenue to provide walking space, access to utility poles, snowplow mound space,” the plan says.

Mayor Dunham said he wanted it to be a gateway to attract the cyclists on the trail to the village. “We want to make Mills Park an attention-getter,” he said.

One resident asked whether plantings at the park would allow animals to hide there. Ms. Grey said at the meeting that plans are to plant mint and garlic and other flea, tick and deer repellent plants.

She also said that she could mark out the plan in tape so people could see where the walking path would be in the park. The board suggested having a field trip to the park so Ms. Grey could go over the plan. Interested residents can meet with Ms. Grey at Mills Park at 10 a.m. Saturday, November 2.

Also at the meeting, the board passed a motion to sign the Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program agreement. The board had been presented with the CCA program in early September by the village’s Climate Smart Communities Task Force members and representative from Energy Next.

A letter from the village Task Force to the board, read at the October 9 meeting, says that CCA “is an energy procurement model approved by the Public Service Commission and supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). CCA allows local cities, towns and villages to determine the default supplier of electricity and/or renewable credits for virtually all homes and small businesses within the jurisdiction.”

According to the letter, CCAs already serve an estimated 170,000 homes and small businesses in the state and Capital Region cities, towns and villages are forming a group that Kinderhook could be a part of. The letter said that the first step of the Capital Region group involves “informing and educating the community about CCA and how it works. There is no immediate commitment to proceed beyond that.”

Mayor Dunham said at last week’s meeting that the village attorney had reviewed the agreement and the board voted unanimously to sign it.

Also at the October 23 meeting:

• The Village Boards of Kinderhook and Valatie are applying for a joint matching state grant to put in kayak launches along the Kinderhook Creek at sites in both villages. The Village of Kinderhook is also looking for a state grant to connect the AHET to Lindenwald

• The board set a public hearing with the Zoning Board Appeals for a zoning change for 3 and 5 Broad Street for November 25.

The next board meeting is Wednesday, November 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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