Airport Park Project Nearly Ready to Begin

Comptroller Mary Ann Maxell, Recreation and Parks Dept. Director Jim Gilchrist and Dave Furfaro, chair of the Recreation Advisory Board, discuss the Airport Park project with the Town Board. Credits: Bob Dumas

MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Councilman John Lupinacci said last week that 2018 is the “Year of the Park” for the town of Carmel.

The councilman was referring to the fact that the town has engaged in several major park projects this year, including ones at Airport, McDonough and Camarda parks, as well as the newly acquired Swan Cove property.

“It’s for the kids; kids and property value,” Lupinacci said at the Town Board’s May 23 meeting. “You go to sell your house and having these sophisticated parks adds a lot of appeal.”

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Lupinacci’s remarks came before Recreation and Parks Department officials gave the board a presentation on the Airport Park project, which they said is about “shovel-ready” and ready to go out for bid.

The project will add five soccer/lacrosse fields, a restroom building, playground, pavilion, bleachers and concession stand. In addition, fencing and a parking lot will be installed and the driveway upgraded. 

“We want to dress it up similar to Baldwin Meadows; that is what we are looking to do,” said Dave Furfaro, chair of the Recreation Advisory Board.

Furfaro recommended that the town send out its requests for bids at the end of the summer.

“That is when you get your best numbers in these cycles,” he said. “It’s when these guys are looking for a fall or winter project.”

Furfaro said if everything comes off without a hitch, the new fields could be playable by fall 2019 because “you need a full season for this grass to grow.”
“But it will probably be the spring of 2020 before it’s ready, to be honest about it,” he said.

Officials said the town is working closely with the county for phosphorous reduction at Lake McGregor. That will have to be done before the project can move forward.
Town Comptroller Mary Ann Maxwell was on hand to discuss the borrowing for the project and recommended that the town float a 15-year bond.

She said a 15-year bond for $2.2 million would cost each property owner in town $14.27 per year for the life of the bond.

Lupinacci called that “parcel taxation,” but said that could change should the town opt to use “taxation based on property valuation,” he said.

Councilman Mike Barile said it was important for the town to lock in the interest rates for the bond now—interest is at a little more than 3 percent—before they move higher.

“The rates today are a gift,” he said. “If we don’t borrow today at 3 percent, we [will wind up] paying a lot more than that.”

Councilwoman Suzi McDonough said she was pleased some of the park projects, some of which have been in the planning stages for nearly a decade, are finally coming to fruition.
“It is nice that after all our years of hard work, we can finally see the light at the end,” she said. “We will have a beautiful park for the kids and the adults. It will be really wonderful.”
Barile added that some progress has been made on the Swan Cove project on South Lake Boulevard next to Tompkins Mahopac Bank, where the town plans to build both a passive park on the lakeside and an adjacent municipal parking lot.

“We had a meeting with Tompkins Mahopac Bank [personnel] to discuss their requirements for their drive-thru and their parking requirements,” he said. “We think we are on the same page and we will now go to a professional design and have [a design] within 30 days or maybe sooner and bring it out to the public and start work over there, too. Everything is moving forward.”

Councilman Jonathan Schneider said he believes these projects will be historic accomplishments for the town.

“Looking back in 20 years, I think it’s going to be viewed as one of the best times for the town, especially Swan Cove and the extension of Chamber Park,” he said.

Everything we do is to enhance our green areas for all ages—whatever activity you want to participate in. We are really concentrating on making sure everything is accessible. Next we will probably be talking about a community center and a community pool. 

“We are heading down the right path and doing all the things we are supposed to do to make sure [Carmel/Mahopac] not only remains a good place for families to be raised but for people to have generational families throughout the town,” he added. “I think that is something we are all working hard towards.” 

Barile said that critics of the park projects need to do their homework.

“For the handful of naysayers out there who say we don’t need more parks, I went to my 8-year-old grandson’s baseball game, which started at 8:15 at night,” he said.

Go look at these parks at night. There were three different fields being used and this was on a school night. [The parks] are needed.”

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