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Upgrades for Aqueduct Park in Niskayuna pegged at $3.1M

Thursday, March 27, 2014
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— Improvements to Aqueduct Park on the Mohawk River could include better parking, an expanded dock and a two-story boathouse.

But those improvements would come at a price. If everything is done, including construction of the boathouse, it could cost $3.1 million, according to a new feasibility study.

The study was presented to the Town Board this week by Joel Bianchi of M.J. Engineering.

The study has been in the works since 2012. The town used a $10,000 state Department of Environmental Conservation grant to conduct the study.

The proposed boathouse represents about half of the estimated overall cost. Officials have said that if feasible, Friends of Niskayuna Rowing would foot the bill through fundraising. The facility would be built on town land and the town would own it.

The total $3.1 million figure represents about $2.6 million in direct costs and $494,000 in indirect costs, such as engineering, legal and cost to bond, Bianchi said.

Richard Marine, president of Friends of Niskayuna Rowing, said the group just got the study and will be reviewing it. The cost of the boathouse as included in the study, however, may be an issue.

“That’s a lot of fundraising for Niskayuna Rowing,” Marine said. “I don’t know if that would be considered feasible or not.

“A boathouse on the property that could meet the goals of the project, yes, I think that’s feasible,” he added.

The boathouse envisioned would be 9,500 square feet. It would be two stories with public meeting space and restrooms. It would also have three bays.

Marine said club officials think the boathouse could be built for significantly less than the number in the study. That could include scaling back — maybe two bays instead of three or less square footage.

The study also included proposed phasing. The first phase would consist of improved dock space and landscaping. A second phase would include rebuilding the parking lot. A third phase would include a less-ambitious pavilion with restrooms. That could be done until the boathouse could be constructed, Bianchi said.

The possible fourth phase would be the boathouse.

Town Supervisor Joe Landry said it’s too early to tell what will be done from the study and where the funding will come from. He said the town might contribute labor, where applicable. He also wouldn’t rule out town funds for what would be a public facility.

The study, though, provides the club a number to work with in its fundraising.

“This sort of defines the use of the park, what can be done and what the goals should be,” Landry said. “I think this is a good study.”

As far as time frame goes, Marine said a boathouse could be three to five years away. Aqueduct Park sits off Aqueduct Road, near Balltown Road. It is the land upon which the Aqueduct House once stood.

The state Department of Transportation is proposing rebuilding the nearby Rexford Bridge and putting in a traffic circle at Aqueduct and Balltown.

Marine expects that traffic-circle work to dictate when any larger improvements at Aqueduct Park could take place.

“Plenty of time for fundraising,” Marine said.

Some of the smaller items, like improved landscaping, could be done as early as this summer, Landry said.

The study included input from town staff, M.J. Engineering and Friends of Niskayuna Rowing. Work began last April.

 
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