Yates Town Park upgrades take shape at site by Lake Ontario

Photos by Tom Rivers: Yates town officials walk by the new concrete kayak launch and access point at the Yates Town Park off Morrison Road by Lake Ontario. Pictured from left include Town Councilman John Riggi, engineer Jon Hinman of the MRB Group, and Town Supervisor Jim Simon.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 August 2022 at 5:01 pm

YATES – The Town Park by Lake Ontario is “no longer an afterthought,” Town Councilman John Riggi said.

The site has added a pavilion with bathrooms, new playground equipment, a kayak launch, a crusher-run walking trail, and new parking lot with sidewalks. More upgrades will follow, including a pier and a horse-and-buggy turnaround with hitching posts.

“This is really nice,” Riggi said Saturday morning while giving a tour of the improvements with Town Supervisor Jim Simon and engineer Jon Hinman of the MRB Group.

The town is pushing to have the $2.5 million project complete in time for the Sept. 24th bicentennial celebration at the park. The “Grand Finale Lake Fair” from 1 to 9 p.m. that day is the third in a series of 200th anniversary celebrations for the town. This Friday there will be a street fair as part of the 200th on Main Street from 5 to 9 p.m.

Town Supervisor Jim Simon greets participants Saturday morning who were on a charity bike ride for Bike MS to support people with multiple sclerosis. Saturday’s bike ride started at Lakeside Beach State Park and included options for 16, 30 or 62 miles.

The town park improvements are 95 percent funded by the state, which made $300 million available to southshore communities  through the state’s Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative or REDI. That was in response to historic flooding along the shore in 2017 and 2019. That flooding destroyed part of the shoreline at the park and the town used a separate $400,000 grant from the state to put in a massive breakwall. Simon said about 25 feet of shoreline was chewed away from the high waters.

The local share is about $126,000. The Lyndonville Area Foundation gave $100,000 towards the local portion, with the town highway department providing in-kind services to meet the remaining local contribution. The highway department has removed trees, hauled stone and milled the driveway.

New playground equipment was installed by Landscape Structures. The new pavilion with bathrooms in the back. The playground is handicapped accessible.

Families can now bring their children to the park to use the playground.

The park itself has long lacked in amenities. Before there were some grills and port-a-johns.

The Town Board welcomed the chance for state funding to fortify the park from future flooding and erosion, and also create a destination for residents and visitors by the lake.

Simon said there is already interest from residents in renting the pavilion for weddings and special events. The board will soon create a policy for reserving the facility.

Community members already have asked about reserving the pavilion for special events.

Keeler Construction in Barre is the general contractor for the project. It put in a concrete kayak launch that Hinman believes is unusual for Lake Ontario. That ramp also gives easy access for people to the shoreline, instead of having to climb down the breakwall.

The launch is a sizable ramp, which was needed to withstand the waves from Lake Ontario that often can be 3 to 4 feet, Hinman said.

The pier is the last big piece of the project to be constructed. It will go 75 feet out into the lake for people to enjoy sightseeing and fishing. Boats won’t be allowed to tie up to the pier unless it’s an emergency.

Volunteers wait for cyclists on Saturday who stopped by the new pavilion for refreshments.

Town Supervisor Jim Simon said the park is better protected from high waters in the future. Simon said the town also is interested in land next door owned by NYSEG. That 100-acre site would make a great nature preserve, Simon said.