Volunteers, town unite for upgrades at Aqueduct Park

Photo provided
Three dozen volunteers from Friends of Niskayuna Rowing helped install a new retaining wall at Aqueduct Park on Saturday.Photo provided Three dozen volunteers from Friends of Niskayuna Rowing helped install a new retaining wall at Aqueduct Park on Saturday.

By Kristin Schultz

Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA — Teamwork makes the dream work for Niskayuna Rowing, both in the shells and on the shore. On Sept. 16, 36 parent volunteers put in a nine-hour work day at Aqueduct Park, working on grant-funded improvements.

Four Town of Niskayuna Highway Department employees assisted in the effort by operating heavy machinery like dump trucks and an excavator, and providing materials including stone and crushed gravel.

The day’s order of business was to remove and replace the retaining wall. Town crews pulled out the old retaining wall with the excavator. The trench was reshaped for durability and strength and pressure-treated 6-inch by 6-inch lumber was installed to form the wall.

“Temperatures were in the 80s but the work continued steadily,” said Larry Quinn, a Friends of Niskayuna Rowing board member, in an email. “We have great parent volunteers and, in spite of the dirt and heat, it was a lot of fun.”

The Friends of Niskayuna Rowing provided $4,000 worth of materials. Organization president Rich Bennett said the materials cost was covered through fundraising efforts. He went on to thank and credit the town’s contributions of manpower, expertise and equipment.

“The real value is the 200 hours of volunteer labor to improve the town park for all area residents to enjoy and to project the Mohawk from runoff,” Bennett said in an email.

The weekend work was part of a multipart project that will include public restrooms and installation of a public water source. This spring, the rowing clubs installed additional launching dock space.

The grant is courtesy of the state Canal Corp. They granted up to $150,000 to cover half of the proposed site improvements. The remaining $150,000 is covered by the town and Aqueduct Rowing Club and is made up of in kind labor and material purchases.

The four town employees each clocked eight hours of overtime pay which, according to Highway Superintendent Ray Smith was necessary in order to coordinate with the volunteers’ availability and also to make sure the site was secure and safe at the end of the day.

Smith’s crews will provide additional help as needed, but he does not anticipate having to pay any more overtime for this set of projects.

In addition to manpower, the Highway Department brought some materials, including stone and clean fill dirt. The department had these materials on hand as it often saves material from one project to store and then use on another site.

Local resident Brett Steenburgh is the design engineer on the project. According to town planner Laura Robertson, there is a small chance everything could be completed by December, but she said in an email that “more realistically we are looking at finalizing the public restrooms and waterline in the spring of 2018.”

She went on to note that the bathrooms should be up and functional by summer 2018.

“The Niskayuna Rowing Club is contributing as much in kind and donations as they can find and have been wonderful to work with,” Robertson wrote. “Creating a more functional, beautiful and accessible park is really the ultimate goal.”