The Putnam Examiner

Airport Park Project Moves Ahead as Town Seeks Funding

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A major environmental hurdle was cleared that would lead to an overhaul at a Mahopac park when the Carmel town board approved a negative declaration during its Wednesday board meeting.

In a unanimous vote, the town board determined a proposed park and athletic complex at Airport Park would not have significant environmental effects and would not need further environmental review. Five multipurpose fields, a playground, a picnic area, a small building, grandstands and gravel parking lot are planned for the park that would buff up the town’s recreational programs.

During the short voting meeting, Supervisor Kenny Schmitt said the town “fully intends to build out” Airport Park into a recreational property primarily for soccer and lacrosse. The potential project has been under review and discussion for roughly the last six years, Schmitt said. In the town’s Master Plan, the Airport Park project is identified as a park that would get a facelift, Schmitt noted.

“So what we did tonight was take another step in the process as we move along toward final approval and final funding for the project,” Schmitt said.

According to the town’s parks and recreation master plan, the cost for the entire project would be slightly more than $3 million, but town recreation director James Gilchrist noted those expenses were a conservative estimate before any work was done on the parcel of land. The reasonable assumption is that the overall cost would be less than listed on the master plan, Gilchrist said.

The town has already done the engineering work and all the permits have been acquired, Gilchrist said, with the funding the final piece missing.

Schmitt said a $250,000 New York State grant has been allocated toward improvements for the park. He added the town is in the process of determining other funding streams on top of the grant, noting sports associations in the hamlet have raised money toward the effort. Once all the money is allocated, the town can then go out to bid for a company that would work on the project.

Gilchrist said once the Airport Park project is complete, it would result in a “domino effect” because soccer could be moved from McDonough Park and that property would be turned into baseball fields.

“It’s going to kind of help evolve our whole parks system,” Gilchrist said, adding. “We’re ready to go on this, it’s just a matter of getting all the funding in place.”

During the meeting, Schmitt vowed the community would be kept updated on the process.

“They are committed to that park as well,” Schmitt said of residents. “It will be a facility that will be used quite extensively. They’ll be a lot of games played there.”

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