Spagnola reports increase in city parks usage

City of Amsterdam Recreation Director Rob Spagnola gave an overview of the areas his department is working on at a Recreation Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Spagnola had high praise for those involved with the ongoing construction of a park on East Main Street. Recently, a paved area was built and basket ball hoops were installed at the park site. He said that children’s playground equipment and skateboarding equipment have been ordered and will be installed soon.

“The skate park is a big success already,” said Spagnola.

He credited Alderman Jim Martuscello for spearheading the effort, as well as cooperation from Mayor Michael Villa. He also thanked Dr. Govind Rao, Cranesville Block, Bob’s Paving, Centro Civico, as well as both the City of Amsterdam and Montgomery County departments of public works for their contributions to the project.

After the meeting, Martuscello said he was excited and pleased to see local young people already utilizing the basket ball court. Looking further down the road, Martuscello said he wants to look into the possibility of obtaining a grant to build a water/sprinkler park behind the basketball courts.

Spagnola also reported that both Riverfront Park and Shuttleworth Park were being utilized at an unprecedented level.

“Riverlink Park…I’ve never seen so much boat traffic down there as there has been this past weekend. It’s mobbed,” Spagnola.

Spagnola said that Shuttleworth Park will bring in approximately $20,000 in revenue from usage fees for the baseball and softball fields. The fields are currently utilized by a variety of youth and adult leagues, as well as by Union College and the Amsterdam Mohawks.

“It’s never been this substantial,” remarked Spagnola.

One difficulty Spagnola talked about was the department’s job of cutting down vegetation on city owned properties. The city now owns several hundred additional properties due to the recent foreclosure.

“You’re up to five or six hundred properties that a four or six man vegetation crew has to take care of…we won’t even get to all of them…the most we’ve ever done is 250 properties [per season]…it’s an impossible task,” said Spagnola.

Spagnola said he was not sure what to do in cases where the property to be worked on was occupied, and a tenant’s personal items are obstructing their work.

“This is a new situation…are we cutting around their lawn chairs and toys…do we pick up stuff and move it?” he asked.

Controller Matt Agresta asked, “Isn’t that the point of having hired Rivercrest?”

Recently the Common Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to sign an agreement with Rivercrest Development Corporation to provide property maintenance and rent collection from occupied city properties.

“Aren’t they doing property maintenance, shouldn’t they be taking care of the lawns?” asked Alderman Chad Majewski.

Corporation Counsel William Lorman advised that the department could move personal items on a property in order to conduct vegetation removal, but should be careful not to damage anything.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.