Hamlet Park renovations in town’s sights

Plans for a redesigned park in Hillsdale. Contributed photo

HILLSDALE — Hamlet Park is about to get a whole new look.

The town council approved a redesign plan that includes a number of upgrades to the existing park.

The estimated cost of the renovation is $1.2 million to $1.5 million.

“My heartiest congratulations to Hillsdale’s Hamlet Committee for its vision, energy and hard work to reimagine our venerable Hamlet Park,” said Hillsdale Town Supervisor Chris Kersten. “Intended for the town’s young and young at heart, the park will also become an exciting community gathering place and contribute importantly to making Hillsdale an even more attractive visitor destination.”

The draft design was unveiled in January during a virtual meeting.

“Many years ago, Hillsdale identified that the park was underutilized and that it would be good to do a renovation of the park so that it could be used more by the community and really be a space where the community can come together,” said Shannon May, Hillsdale Hamlet Committee chairwoman.

The redesign plan includes an expanded playground, a pavilion for concerts and events, a walking path, benches, picnic tables, new lighting and shade trees, an improved basketball court and a connection to the existing Harlem Valley Rail Trail.

“One of the biggest benefits that we see in renewing the whole layout of the park is the connection that it will have to the rail trail,” said committee volunteer Miguel Ferreyra De Bone.

The rail trail ends near Hillsdale and by renovating the park and connecting the trail, Hillsdale will attract tourism and contribute to the local economy, Ferreyra De Bone said.

The parking area will also be moved closer to the businesses that currently exist along Route 22, adding walkability to the area, Ferreyra De Bone said.

The improvements will help bring people to the hamlet, which would be good for the economy, stimulating business at local stores and restaurants, May said.

The redesign project will be financed through fundraising efforts, private donations and grant money, Ferreyra De Bone said. No taxpayer funds will be used for the project, he added.

The committee began working on the project over a year ago and received approval from the town board, May said. The group raised money to hire the landscape architect, Chazen Associates, and has been working with the firm since last August to develop the design.

The renovated park’s design was based in part on ideas and comments from local residents collected by surveys and public meetings, May said Tuesday.

“It was important to us to engage the community throughout this process so that this ultimately is a community park for residents of all ages,” May said.

The renovations will create a space where community members can take their children to a playground, come to play basketball and be a space where small community gatherings can be held, May added.

Construction on the park could start as early as late 2022 or early 2023, depending on fundraising efforts, May said.

It became apparent to the committee how important having an outdoor space where people can go has become, particularly during a pandemic, May said.

“People really want to be able to be outside,” she said. “And while it is going to take us a while to make these improvements to the park, this is the kind of thing that communities need.”

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