By CAROLINE MURRAY
BROADALBIN -- After 15 years of planning, fundraising and waiting, the town of Broadalbin can now move forward with the development of a park along Route 29, thanks to a $500,000 state grant.
The good news came Wednesday, when the state Regional Economic Development Council announced $82.4 million in funding for the Mohawk Valley region.
In the plans is a 22-acre community park for the Broadalbin Youth Commission, complete with a baseball field, two soccer and softball fields, a walking trail and playground.
Travis Mitchell, the plan's engineer, also mentioned a basketball court and ice skating rink, if the funds allow.
"At this point we have developed the drawings to where they are 85 to 90 percent complete and we could potentially send it out to bid for construction in the spring," Mitchell said.
He works at a landscape architecture, land survey and engineer firm in Clifton Park, but lives with his family in Broadalbin.
During the past two years, Mitchell has volunteered his time by helping the commission and its park development committee roll out plans for the site's construction.
"I have young kids and I try to be active in the community," said Mitchell. "Obviously, being in the engineering business, it was something that I could offer to the park committee."
About 15 years ago, Broadalbin's Youth Commission began discussing the possibility of a community recreational center. Fundraising began about five years later and a plot of land was purchased in 2007.
The commission's director Lou Magliocca has been on board from the start.
He said between the Broadalbin-Perth School District, there are about 600 youths who do not have enough fields or parks to play in.
According to Magliocca, the town did not want the project to be a burden on taxpayers and so the youth commission organized an annual golf tournament and a home show to raise money for the venture.
Together, they have accumulated close to $115,000 -- a lot of money, but still not enough to begin building on the site.
That is when commission and committee members decided to apply for a state grant.
It took three years and three separate applications for the initiative to get approved. Magliocca believes they were denied the first two times because they were not "shovel ready."
This year, an archaeological survey was conducted and everything came back positively.
"Third time is a charm," said Town Supervisor Joseph DiGiacomo.
As a committee and town council member, DiGiacomo was thrilled when he heard about the award.
According to DiGiacomo, the entire plan will cost close to $1.2 million, however they now have enough funds to get started. He is not sure if the plans will come to fruition next year because it is his last month in office.
"It is a good legacy to leave, we got all the funding in place for them for this," he said.
Nevertheless, he said, it was exciting to see what progress will be made. Both DiGiacomo and Magliocca were thankful for all the help and support the community has provided throughout this long process, including the local Lions Club, which will pay for the park's pavilion, and to Theodora "Theo" Higgins' family, which has donated $10,000 in her honor.
Broadalbin Youth Commission board member Keith Buchanan was especially grateful for Chris Korona's help during the archeological survey. Initially the preparations for the survey would have set the project back $2,000, but Korona plowed the land and only charged for fuel costs.
The park committee is scheduled to meet next week to discuss the proposal now that the grant has been awarded.
"I see no delays. It is shovel ready to begin the development," Magliocca said.
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