“We started this 35 years ago with hope,” said Saugerties councilwoman Leeanne Thornton at a March 16 public meeting to discuss plans for Bristol Beach State Park, “and now 35 years later it looks like it will happen. This happened through the perseverance of the community.”
More than 30 local residents interested in helping the town come up with ways to develop the state park for use by Saugerties residents and also a draw to folks from outside the area attended the meeting. Saugerties acquired the Bristol park area through the Palisades regional office of the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. With a mile of shoreline, about 200 acres of forested land, an abandoned brick factory, and a work building that some said would be perfect for a visitors’ center, the park is a significant resource. With a good plan and proper management, Bristol Park might be a moneymaker for the town, officials hope.
Ted Kolankowski, Barton & Loguidice, park development expert, and Barbara Restaino, a landscape architect, were hired to help the town in making plans for the development of the park. They led the discussion.
They said the many structures on the property might be reused. Both talked about two areas that would be perfect for beaches for swimming in the Hudson River. Another area could be used for fishing and boathouses, a pier and docks. There could also be numerous hiking trails on the property.
“This is pretty incredible asset for the town,” Restaino said.
Access to the park would be through Main Street in Malden and off Route 9W.
Much of the site was once the home of Stable Brickworks, Kolankowski said. There are still buildings from the brickworks, as well as areas used to dock the barges that loaded up with bricks for the trip south to New York City or north to Albany.
“This site could be a regional gem,” Restaino said. “It would draw people from all over to hike, to fish and to swim.”
Part of the park might be rented out as a site for outdoor weddings, which would bring revenue into the town that could be used for further development.
One person suggested that a natural amphitheater on the site could be turned into a mini-Saratoga Performing Arts Center, where smaller concerts could be held. Thirnton noted that there’s also a large conservation area that could be used as a classroom for local schools to teach about the environment.
For the immediate future, the groups involved, including the town’s Conservation Advisory Committee, will be focused on preserving the shoreline. That’s what could help generate grant money, Kolankowski said.
Officials have said that park development will come though grant money, and that no town taxpayer funds will be needed. Grants have been received from the Hudson River Valley Greenway and the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program. Money from the Winston Farm nature program could be used as matching funds for future grants.
Presentation of a draft plan is scheduled for this June, and a final draft will be completed by September. The town board will then decide how to move forward. To view the slide show presented at the meeting, go to the town’s webpage at www.saugerties.ny.us.