BY MICHAEL KELLY
NISKAYUNA — There will be toilets.
At the town’s Aqueduct Park that is, the main reward from the state’s Regional Economic Development Council’s $150,000 grant bestowed last week upon the Friends of Niskayuna Rowing and the town of Niskayuna.
“Right now, there’s no running water there, no toilet facilities,” said Niskayuna Rowing President Dave Davenport, adding park patrons have to bring their own water bottles and use portable bathrooms. “This [building a bathroom] will be a key element for all users of the park.”
“This is such a plus for the residents,” town Supervisor Joe Landry said Tuesday. He later added: “This is going to give us more opportunities to promote the park.”
Besides funds for public water and toilet facilities, last week’s grant also will help pay for improving walkways, stabilizing the bank between the site’s boathouse and the Mohawk River, increasing dock capacity and adding vessel storage equipment.
While Niskayuna Rowing regularly occupies and trains out of Aqueduct Park, the location off Aqueduct Road remains a public facility from which all community members have access to the river. Davenport and Landry helped to spearhead the submission of an application from their two entities to secure funds for improvements to the area.
“In June and July, we learned of the opportunity of the canal grants and we worked pretty quickly … to put together a list of things and craft a proposal that would focus on improving the park,” Davenport said.
While a well-used venue with a variety of community events that call it home, Landry said the addition of some basic amenities should help to increase traffic to the park.
“There’s been no [modern bathrooms] there, and that’s a hindrance in that respect,” Landry said.
In all, the REDC awards distribute approximately $750 million in aid throughout the state. As part of acceptance of their $150,000 grant, the town and Niskayuna Rowing pledged to match that total; to do so, the two groups will offer up funds, manpower and equipment for the construction projects.
Both Davenport and Landry were unsure when the park’s grant-based projects will start, but agreed that the nearby construction slated to start in April to build a new Rexford Bridge will not interfere.
“We’re very pleased,” Landry said. “Hopefully we can get this moving soon.”
With a laugh, Davenport said his organization’s coaches and rowers are ready for a future without portable toilets.
“There’s tremendous excitement,” he said.