Lloyd Supervisor Paul Hansut announced that NYS Assemblyman Frank Skartados [D-Milton] has secured $375,000 that will be used to finish all of the work at the Bob Shepard Highland Landing Park.
Hansut said several months ago a plan was compiled, under the direction of Nancy Hammond, that accounted for all of the outstanding items needed to finally finish the park. The plan was sent out to all of the local state and federal officials.
Skartados’ funding will provide $250,000 for water and sewer and the remaining $125,000 will go toward the final items needed on the park grounds.
Hansut said water and sewer is “going to go underneath the railroad tracks from the sewer plant so that will give the educational building bathrooms and be able to run it to the southern part of the park and then Mariner’s would be able to privately hook in so he can have water and sewer to his [future] restaurant.” Hansut said the owner of the Mariner’s site, Richard Ronkese, would have to pay related costs involved to join the sewer district.
“I am thrilled the Assemblyman was able to do this and we appreciate everything he does for our community,” Hansut said. “Obviously, we’ll have to put it out for bid…I think the engineering is already done so I think it will be a quick-moving project. It’s a good example of elected officials working together [and] volunteers from the park. Nancy Hammond did a great job. Its fabulous and is great for the community and it’s going to finish off that park once and for all.”
Skartados said he was apprised about what was needed to finish the park, something that has been a dream for nearly 25 years. He said at the close of the NYS budget negotiations in April he was able to secure the $375,000 for the Town of Lloyd.
“I believe in economic development and job creation [and] the town does not have the resources to do this thing and naturally I felt I had a responsibility to do all that I could to help them complete the projects and attract businesses,” he said.
Skartados pointed out that the Highland Park is tied into the overall “Walkway Experience.”
“I’d love to see a ship docked right in Highland and tourists getting off and getting on the Walkway Over the Hudson and going to the restaurants,” he said.
Skartados said this is also why he is opposed to the U.S. Coast Guard’s proposed plan to increase the number of oil barge anchorage sites in the Hudson River from two to ten, noting that Highland and Milton are both under consideration because they have deep water ports.
“These are the ports that built New York City, these were the ports that fed New York City and so now we can turn those ports into agri-tourism,” he said. “All these [local] farms depend on people coming up here, so the easier we make it the better it will be…This area is a four-season destination point and we want to do everything we can to develop our waterfronts so that people can have access to what we enjoy here in the Mid-Hudson Valley.”
Skartados said the funding he obtained is earmarked for capital improvements in local municipalities. Funds are appropriated to each Legislator who then decides how it is to be divided up.
“This is the system and we [legislators] make a point to advocate for our communities,” he said. “This is how we secure the funding just like we secure funding for our schools here and just like we secure funding for economic development.” He said this support will help ease some of the tax burden upon local residents.
“If it doesn’t go to my community it is going to go somewhere else so I am going to fight for my community because that’s my job, that’s my responsibility. I am the voice of the community in Albany. I have to secure the funding [and] I have to secure the legislation to ensure my community prospers,” he said.
Skartados said the required paperwork is happening now “and as the bills [for the work] are submitted payments are made.”
By Mark Reynolds