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Despite cost, Round Lake Preserve plan moving forward

Wednesday, July 9, 2014
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— The town of Malta will go ahead with construction of the Round Lake Preserve nature park, even though costs will be higher than anticipated.

The Town Board this week voted to award a $714,300 construction contract to M Sullivan Construction of Albany, hoping some money can be shaved from the project during construction.

The bid, while the lowest of several the town received, was about $100,000 more than officials had hoped to spend in establishing non-motorized boat access and a nature preserve on the remote east side of Round Lake. The vote was 4-1, with Councilman John Hartzell opposing the contract.

“It’s nice to see it move forward, but it’s a lot of money,” he said. “I think there are other priorities.”

Others, however, said the project has been a long time coming, and they expect the preserve to be popular.

“This has been a project in the making for many, many years,” said Councilwoman Tara Thomas. “This will be a recreational resource for our residents.”

Board members said they hope $40,000 can be cut from the budget by removing plans for interpretive signs, picnic tables and other improvements.

Work at the 92-acre site will include building an access road from Route 67, a parking area and several hundred feet of boardwalk through wetlands leading to open water where people will be able to fish and launch kayaks or canoes.

Tim Larson, a landscape architect with project designers The LA Group of Saratoga Springs, said bids were higher than expected because his firm underestimated the cost of the boardwalk work.

A launch for motorized boats in the village of Round Lake, built by the state and opened this spring, has proved to be popular, town officials noted.

The Round Lake Preserve was purchased in 2008 using $350,000 in state environmental grant money, and a $400,000 grant from the state Environmental Protection Fund is helping pay for construction. While the preserve will function as a single park, ownership of the land is split between the town, which owns 36 acres, and the conservation group Saratoga PLAN, which owns 56 acres.

Town Parks and Recreation Director Audrey Ball said construction is scheduled to start shortly and be substantially finished by Dec. 1. Money beyond the anticipated budget could come from town recreation funds, she said.

The preserve site had been part of the Sweeney family farm. It also includes heron rookeries and other wildlife habitat.

 
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