Yates town supervisor sees $2.5 million from state to enhance park as good investment

Posted 31 January 2020 at 1:14 pm


As the Town of Yates continues to explore how best to take advantage of the $2.531 million dollar grant awarded for the Yates Town Park by the NY State Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Commission, a wide range of suggestions and concerns about the future of the park have been raised.

Why should we enhance the park? According to the National Recreation and Park Association, quality parks are recreational spaces which improve health and wellness, conserve open spaces, ensure social equity by providing free public access to all, increase property values in the community, and are cited as one of the top three reasons people and businesses relocate to an area.

Why not spend the money elsewhere? The REDI Commission has made it clear that the grants are only to be used for lakeside communities negatively affected by Lake Ontario flooding to provide for shoreline resiliency and economic development opportunities. The $2.5 million is money already taken from the taxpayers, and it will not be given back. Presumably, unspent REDI grant funds would be moved to other REDI projects, but it will not be spent in Yates.

Why enhance the park when not enough people use it? What does “not enough people” mean?  I applaud those who had the vision to establish the park in the first place almost two decades ago. Many believe (myself, the town board and the REDI Commission included) that enhancing the park with things like a playground, a pavilion, and a nature path will lead to an increase in usage and will be appreciated by future generations.

What impact will this have on taxpayers? The town spends about $10,000 a year maintaining the park. This includes grass cutting, renting porta-potties, and other facility upkeep tasks. The enhancements from the project would increase costs for facility upkeep and insurance, but current analysis is that the increase would be small.

How will the town pay for the 5 percent local match required by the state? The Town estimates 25 percent of that local match will come from in-kind services (like highway personnel helping with excavating, etc.). The Town is seeking other grant funding for the remainder of the local match, and, short of that, will consider a long-term bond.

What will be the final design of the park? The Yates Town Park Task Force, formed last summer and made up of community members and town personnel, continues to listen to any and all suggestions, and will make its final recommendations to the Town Board next month. Some changes to the original design the task force has made are – among others – an open pavilion rather than an enclosed pavilion, an L-shaped break wall rather than two jetties, and some security enhancements.

The Yates Town Park Task Force meets on Monday, February 10, 5:30 p.m., at the town hall. All are welcome. This meeting is a workshop, so the public may attend but not ask questions. As in the past, task force members will be available after the workshop to talk one-on-one with people.

The Yates Town Board is hosting a public forum followed by a public hearing on February 13 at 7 p.m., at the town hall.  All are welcome.

For the latest updates about the park proposal please go to the town website (townofyates.org) or send me an email at jamesjsimon11@gmail.com.

Jim Simon

Supervisor, Town of Yates