MAHOPAC, N.Y. - It has been nearly 20 years in the making, but the plan to build five sports fields, bleachers, outbuildings, hiking paths and other improvements at Airport Park is officially underway.

The groundbreaking for the $2.2 million project took place Saturday, Nov. 17. Representatives from the Town Board, Recreation and Parks Department, Mahopac Sports Association (MSA), school district and county legislature broke ground for the project with symbolic gold shovels.

The Town Board in June approved the $2.2 million bond to pay the project

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The board passed a resolution green-lighting the bond and the project at its June 13 meeting. It was one of several park projects coming to fruition over the next year, most of them part of the town Recreation and Parks Department’s 15-year master plan.

The $2.2 million bond will be paid off over 15 years at a cost of $14.27 per year per property owner. That method is called parcel taxation, but the town could opt to use taxation on property valuation.

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. Hiking trails around the park will also get a makeover.

Dave Furfaro, chair of the Recreation and Parks Advisory Committee, said the Airport Park project has been a long time coming.

“This all started around 20 years ago,” Furfaro told the crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony. “They were going to build 225 townhomes up here but [the developer] lost the approval. The town was going to buy the property but [it proved to be] too much. So, the county bought it.”

The county leased Airport Park to the town of Carmel in 2005 for 99 years. The county made the agreement with the stipulation that park be dedicated as a recreational activity.

“It’s a key part of the master plan,” said Recreation Director Jim Gilchrist, “and then we move on to [other projects] like the community center, a pool. It’s well thought out. [Airport Park] will have lots of recreational activities, like outdoor movies, tournaments. This project has given us everything we want—playground equipment, buildings, irrigation, walking trails.”

Supervisor Ken Schmitt said the fruition of the park plan was a collaborative effort.

“There have been so many involved with this and it’s been challenging,” he said. “But we overcame the obstacles. This is something we really need. I am thrilled that we are out here today breaking ground. [County Executive] MaryEllen Odell has been behind us. It shows how when you work together, great things can happen.”

Furfaro said that the MSA was also a driving force behind the project.

“I can’t say enough about them,” he said.

Councilwoman Suzi McDonough noted that the park would be utilized 12 months out of the year, not just for summer and fall sports games.

“There will be snowshoeing, and we’ll have hills for sleigh riding,” she said.

Furfaro said the fields will likely be ready by the spring of 2020.

Officials said the town is working closely with the county for phosphorous reduction at Lake McGregor. Odell announced last summer that Putnam County had received a $100,000 grant from the state to do that job. The drainage improvements will rectify a water runoff issue and phosphorous reduction at Lake McGregor, which abuts the park.