Thanks to $2.9 million in state grants, the long-awaited overhaul of Bolton Landing’s Veterans Memorial Park can begin.
The park’s second grant – worth $1.7 million – was the largest of the 23 Local Waterfront Revitalization Grants announced by Governor Kathy Hochul on December 29.
“This funding will help revitalize waterfronts, which are key aspects of thriving and vibrant communities,” said Hochul. “We are excited to see the positive impact this funding will have on these communities and their residents.”
A Master Plan for Veterans’ Park beach and recreation area was drafted by a citizens’ committee and consultants from the LA Group and JMZ Architects in 2019.
According to Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover, the grant announced on December 29 will cover 75% of the costs of constructing a new year-round building for the town’s recreation and youth programs – the centerpiece of the Master Plan and of a redesigned and reconfigured park.
Tenee Rehm Casaccio, the building’s architect, said the new facility will replace a 1980s building constructed to house arts and crafts programs, as well a series of out-buildings.
Visually, the multi-purpose building will echo the new Visitors Center in Rogers Park, said Casaccio.
“It’s an architectural language that speaks to the town’s location – the Adirondacks – but with a vocabulary that is not overly rustic. Having all but completed the redesign and renovation of Rogers Park, we have an opportunity here to look at the park on the other side of town. The two parks are bookends. We’ll draw from what’s been done in Rogers Park and apply those architectural concepts to these building projects,” said Casaccio.
The new building will house the Recreation Department’s offices as well as space for after-school and summer programs and activities, all of which are currently located in the basement of the town hall.
“I’m excited that we will be able do so much here,” said Michelle Huck, the head of the Recreation Department. “We now have maternity programs and yoga, cardio, fitness and watercolor painting classes at the Conservation Club, and while we may not be able do all of those things in this new building, we can move the majority of them there. We won’t be displaced when someone wants to use the Conservation Club.”
A $975,000 grant announced in December 2021 will help fund the construction of an open-air picnic pavilion with an attached enclosed restroom facility; new pedestrian access connections to the existing north floating dock system; a themed playground to serve as a regional tourist point of destination; an improved waterfront picnic area; and a Veteran’s Memorial as the centerpiece of the Park.
Other improvements include pickleball and tennis courts, to be added to the basketball courts now found in the park, all of which will be sited in locations that will not conflict with parking or revamped playgrounds and picnic areas.
The park’s lighting and its stormwater management system, which prevents runoff from entering Lake George, will also be upgraded.
The public art, memorials and flag poles that identify the park as a monument to veterans will be retained, said Tim Larson of the LA Group.
“The American flag is now the centerpiece of a lawn area that’s easy to envision as a setting for Memorial Day and similar events, with space for a podium and a seating area on the lawn,” said Larson.
“The Citizens Committee and its consultants did a great job,” said Kim Terpening, the commander of Bolton Landing’s American Legion Post. “The veterans were included in the discussions, and we appreciate that.”
“Developing a Master Plan is a challenging process. You’re given a lot of different ideas and you hear a lot of different opinions. We’ve tried to incorporate those ideas and opinions without sacrificing the character of the park. We’ve tried to create a balance, and I think we’ve succeeded,” said Larson.
According to Conover, construction is expected to begin in autumn 2023 and be completed in time for the park and beach to re-open before Memorial Day, 2024.
On behalf of Bolton, Supervisor Conover said he wished to express his gratitude to the Department of State – “a tremendous partner” – whose officials worked with Bolton to reconstruct Rogers and Veterans Beach Parks, to State Senator Dan Stec and Assemblyman Matt Simpson, who provided strong support for the town’s grant applications, and to Governor Kathy Hochul.
“Clearly, New York State understands that Bolton’s parks are among the most important destinations on Lake George, and time after time, we have been able to persuasively deliver that message,” said Conover.
Conover credited Bolton’s Citizens’ Committee and its consultants, the LA Group and JMZ Architects for developing a design that incorporated so many community needs, and Josh Westfall, Director of Planning and Zoning, for drafting the successful 2022 application.
“In the past, we would’ve retained consultants to draft and submit a grant application of this size to New York State. With Josh Westfall, we have that capacity in-house,” said Conover.
In addition to improving the park’s recreational resources, the Master Plan committee hoped “to strengthen the pedestrian and visual connections between the park’s facilities, drawing you through the site to the beach and to the lake beyond,” said Tim Larson.
Another goal was to affirm the connections between the lake, the park and downtown Bolton Landing, said Larson.
“The Town has already improved the park’s waterside amenities, building, for example, new docks and a kayak launch, and now we want to encourage boaters to walk through the park and to the hamlet where, we hope, they will patronize local businesses,” said Larson.
A kayak locker, for instance, could entice a boater to shore, where he could secure his vessel and walk into town.
“We have assets that lend themselves to a positive experience for both residents and visitors, but from time to time, they need to be refreshed,” said Ron Conover. “As our work at Rogers Park shows, we can be very effective at this. The results at Veterans Beach will be equally terrific.”