DEC gives $400,000 in grants to fund parks, paths and signs in the Catskills

Above: Eight Catskills towns, villages and nonprofits received grant money from the DEC this week. From left: Hunter Town Councilman David Kukle, Neversink Town Supervisor Mark McCarthy, CWC planner Peter Manning, Lexington Town Supervisor Dixie Baldrey, Windham Town Councilman Robert Pelham, MARK Project Deputy Director Kent Brown, Andes Town Supervisor Marty Donnelly, Cairo Town Supervisor Ted Banta and DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens. In front is Dylan Walrath, the contracts coordinator for the Division of Lands and Forests at the DEC, who coordinated the grants. Photo by Julia Reischel.

Elected officials from communities across the Catskills gathered in the Delaware County village of Margaretville to accept grant funds and accolades from Joseph Martens, the head of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, on Tuesday, June 2.

At a ceremony at the Catskill Watershed Corporation, the DEC awarded $400,000 in "Catskill Smart Growth Implementation grants" to eight towns, village and organizations for a variety of projects, all of which involved building or improving parks, recreational paths and signage.

Many of the projects that received funds are located at the eastern entryways of their communities, facing visitors coming from New York City. At one point, Martens quipped that "there must be something about the east end of towns."

Smart Growth grants are competitive, are "designed to reinforce the assets of the villages and hamlets and help preserve the heritage of the Catskill Park," and are funded through the state's Environmental Protection Fund, according to the Smart Growth fact page on the DEC's website

Greene County towns received the majority of the $400,000, while towns and organizations in Delaware and Sullivan County also got some of the pie.

The winners were Greene County towns of Cairo, Lexington, Windham and Hunter; the Delaware County town of Andes and the village of Fleischmanns; the Sullivan County town of Neversink; and the Catskill Watershed Corporation, which is based in Margaretville.

From largest to smallest, here's how the grants broke down: 

  • The town of Cairo received the largest grant, $75,000, for its "Main Street Multi-Modal Pathway Project," a half-mile of new sidewalks and bike paths on the east end of Main Street.
  • The small town of Lexington in Greene County received $64,425 for a waterfront park project on the north bank of the Schoharie Creek that will feature "an aspen grove, a naturalized children's play area, a pavilion, restrooms and picnic facilities."
  • The Catskill Watershed Corporation received $50,000 for a "Catskill Park Wayfinding Sign Project" that will place signs pointing toward recreational resources throughout the Catskill Park over the next three years. 
  • The Windham Area Recreation Foundation and the town of Windham received $50,000 to build a 2.4-mile section of the multi-use recreational Windham Path from Hensonville Center to Maplecrest Center along the Batavia Kill.
  • The village of Fleischmanns received $45,482 to build a "gateway enhancement project" at the east end of the village that will include landscaping, benches, street lamps and signage. 
  • The town of Andes received $45,481 for building a gazebo, a footbridge and a Riverwalk in its riverside Ballantine Park.
  • The town of Neversink received $45,481 for building a walking path around its town park, which features new ball fields, a picnic pavilion and "bio-retention rain gardens."
  • The town of Hunter received the smallest grant -- $26,131 -- for signs, brochures and informational kiosks to promote the 41-mile "Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway," a drive through the most impressive high peaks sections of the Catskills along Platte Clove Road, Route 23A and Route 214.