The southern pier at the Milton Landing Park was officially opened last Friday afternoon in a well attended ribbon cutting ceremony that included state, county, town and committee officials as well as members from Meet Me in Marlborough, Ulster County Tourism, Empire State Development, the Regional Economic Development Council, the engineering firm of Tighe and Bond, along with many residents of Marlborough and Milton. In addition, the environmental sloop Clearwater, headed by Capt. Nick Rogers, was docked alongside the new pier.
The rehabilitation project cost $1.6 million, of which $313,000 came from a grant from the Empire State Development Corporation. The town is expected to bond for the remaining balance.
Supervisor Al Lanzetta began his speech by saying, “Marlborough is on the map thanks to a bunch of great people,” citing in particular Town Board members, Allan Koenig, Scott Corcoran, Howard Baker and Ed Molinelli, who was unable to attend the ceremony. He also thanked Pat Quick who worked over a 10 year period to transform the nearby 1883 train station into a town meeting center.
Lanzetta said 16 years ago a representative from the Land for Public Trust approached him about purchasing the former oil depot that fronted the river and had tanks up off Sands Avenue. He noted that Scenic Hudson provided $500,000 that went toward the purchase price of $940,000 for the property.
“We worked together and engaged in a partnership with Scenic Hudson and New York Parks and Recreation to acquire this place, now known as the Milton Landing Park,” he said. “Thanks to that collaboration, we were able to give the people of Marlborough their first access to the Hudson River.”
Lanzetta credits members of the Milton Fire Department for taking the first steps by clearing the overgrown parcel by the river and rehabilitation of the northern pier.
Development of a master plan for the entire park was done by Behan Planning. He credits Rosemary and Jerry Wein for securing a $313,000 development grant by convincing New York State that a deep water dock would be an economic driver for the town. Lanzetta said there is already some interest, “from public and private entities to utilize the dock for recreation, education and agri-tourism.”
Lanzetta said more improvements are scheduled for the park. Soon a new safe pedestrian railroad crossing will be installed and new landscaping and additional improvements will be done at the adjacent train station park that “will make this a treasure we envisioned 12 years ago. Let me say that we are thankful to have so many partners and a supportive community that keeps Marlborough moving forward.”
B. J. Mikkelsen, of the agri-tourism group Meet Me in Marlborough, has been working on the tourism prospects for the park: inviting day or weekly cruise lines to consider coming up the Hudson River to visit Marlborough, implementing a Future Farmers program at the High School, printing posters with maps and business listings to direct visitors and residents to events in town as well as offering gift certificates. He would also like to establish an online community calendar to coordinate Marlborough area events.
NYS Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson [D-NY104] said the pier rehabilitation is an incredible achievement, “because it was done by the entire community... and you don’t see this often in a lot of places; it’s great to see this and I think this is something that is going to mean a lot.”
Jacobson presented a Certificate of Merit from the NYS Assembly to members of the Milton Landing Committee; Rosemary and Jerry Wein, Gael Appler Jr., Allan Koenig and Tim Lawton.
Mike Anagnostakis, Senior Advisor to NYS Sen. James Skoufis [D-NY39], presented a Certificate of Recognition from the NYS Senate to the Town Board.
“I’ll tell you local government is a great thing; this is small town Americana [and] this is the way small communities should be all across the United States of America, coming together for a purpose,” he said. “When we are all long gone, people will be utilizing this generations into the future and it is all because of the efforts the community has made.”
Monique LeGendre, of Empire State Development [ESD], said her agency is, “thrilled to support the Milton Landing Park because ESD and the Mid Hudson Regional Economic Development Council are continually looking to identify ways the state can strategically invest in projects that will inspire and grow the region’s unique communities like this one,” she said.
Dr. Don Christian, Chairmen of the Regional Economic Development Council, said, “this new gateway will bring visitors and residents to this region of the state and continue to grow the tourism sector. Congratulations.”
Lisa Berger, Director of Ulster County Tourism, offered congratulations to all who transformed an old oil depot into a vibrant town park.
“What was once a dream became a vision and with your hard work it’s now a reality,” she said. “I can say with certainty that the county tourism office cannot wait to help you welcome boatloads of visitors here; very well done.”
Jeff Anzevino, of Scenic Hudson, recalled a saying by the late folksinger Pete Seeger that ‘many hands make light work.’
“That’s apparently very true in this case. I know, because I’m a river rat myself, this is the only public access between the Bob Shepard Highland Landing Park in the Town of Lloyd and the City of Newburgh.” He noted that a new movement is afoot to bring grains and other products to Hudson River communities to businesses by sail freight and by electric boat, “and I can envision wines from Marlborough being shipped out on the schooner Apollonia or perhaps on an electric launch like the Solaris from Kingston.”
Councilman Allan Koenig said he and Gael Appler Jr. took the first step, along with help from their friends and fellow firefighters.
“We rebuilt the pier and the public loved it, the grass came up and the public loved it and the public started to own it. It’s a great story, it’s a great park,” he said.
Fellow committee member Tim Lawton said they met in the winter of 2009, “trying to find a way to make use of it and what uses.” He said Koenig and Appler jump started the project, “and it took off from there. Today is a monumental day and I am so excited.”
Pat Quick has been involved with the park for a decade, starting with remodeling the 1883 Milton Train Station for a community canter.
“It was a lot of blood, sweat and tears for a long time,” Quick recalled. “The feeling is overwhelming; it’s hard to speak at this point. The train station and the dock now go together. The work that’s been done on them is just beautiful.” He said the railroad crossing, “will happen because Al [Lanzetta] is determined and he has since the beginning to make this happen.”
Steve Clarke, of Prospect Hill Orchards, said the entire Milton Landing Park, “is such a wonderful asset for the community and to be a river town and actually have access to the river and a nice park is truly a wonderful thing.”
Ulster County Legislator Tom Corcoran says the credit belongs to all who put in the hard work to make this a jewel of the town, “starting with the Milton Fire guys. It was a vision started by them that really got the ball rolling and when it started rolling, it just snowballed. The whole project down here is fantastic.”
Councilman Howard Baker said the pier project took a little longer than anticipated, “but I think the outcome is what we wanted, we’re pleased.”