The Marlborough Town Board is working diligently to revamp their small river-town through the renovation of Milton Landing Park, in hopes of attracting tourism and offering new opportunities for the local economy.
On July 30, the Board and the Friends of the Milton Landing Park hosted an open house at the Milton Train Station to give attendees an overview of the proposed Milton Pier Renovation Project.
It will cost $1.5 million to renovate the Milton Landing Pier. With a grant of $313,000 from Empire State Development and $140,000 coming from the town’s budget, $1.047 million looms over the residents’ heads.
To pay off this $1.047 million, the town is financing a Bond Anticipation Note (BAN), which is short-term debt over the course of a five-year period. In the fifth year, any debt that hasn’t been paid will turn into a bond. In order to chip away at this debt, the town is planning to pursue member item funding. Also, in 2024, the town is retiring a major road bond that will free up $375,000 in payments that could potentially go into this project.
Before the town purchased the park, Councilman Alan Koenig and Gael Appler Sr., Chief of the Milton Engine Company rallied firefighters to help clear off the brush and debris from the landing. After successfully cleaning up the park, Appler Sr. turned to Koenig and said “We can rebuild that pier,” to which Koenig responded “I’ll bring my hammer.”
Koenig and Appler strongly believe that the pier’s renovation will be the perfect enhancement for Marlborough. The new gateway to the town will increase tourism without the highway traffic, and can be a sound port. Koenig is particularly excited for the launching of river cruises made possible through the S.S. Columbia, a steamship that can accommodate 400 to 500 people, and the Sloop Clearwater.
“I had a vision of what it could be, and what it should be,” Koenig said. “We thrive on tourism, and agro-tourism is really starting to come into fruition. This is just another side to bring people to see our beautiful town.”
Since the purchase of the land in 2009, Town Supervisor Al Lanzetta claims that volunteers have raised nearly $800,000 to develop the park.
However, after nine years of volunteering, Town Deputy Supervisor Howard Baker claims that “we can’t really rally the troops anymore.” That is when Marlborough resident Rosemary Wein stepped in.
Wein took the grant and permit process by the reins, and secured a $40,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to determine if the pier is salvageable. After a clean report, Wein obtained the seven state and federal permits necessary for the project.
One of the grants Wein earned was the New York State Empire State Development Grant, worth $313,000. Marlborough’s Deputy Supervisor Howard Baker pointed out how fortunate the town is to receive this grant because it is extremely competitive. According to Baker, “Marlborough is the envy of many other municipalities along the river—both for our municipal ownership of this wonderful resource and our financial support from the state.”
Meet Me in Marlborough (MMiM), the town’s volunteer agro-tourism organization, shared a nostalgic perspective at the open house. Steve Clark, the husband of Judy Clark, president of MMiM, pointed out the historical significance of the pier. In the 1840s, steamships came through New York, and Milton and Marlborough were crucial ports.
Renovating the pier is an “opportunity to rekindle the economic benefit that was once there,” Clark said.
Erin Moore from Tighe and Bond, the engineering firm working on the pier renovation, said that they will be using pressure treated timber to construct the pier, making sure that the structure is resilient.
So far there has been no negative feedback about the renovation project. At the open house, a train rumbling by spurred one community member to express a safety concern. In response, Baker said the town is working with the Department of Transportation to get a safer crosswalk to ensure tourists’ protection, and acquire the necessary safety equipment.
“If anyone objects to this project, they would have to resort to getting a petition. In November it becomes a referendum and everyone votes on it,” Lanzetta said. “But if we don’t hear from anyone that opposes it then we just move forward, and we’re hoping that since so far we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.”
If the town decides to go forth with the Milton Landing Pier Renovation, then they must act fast. If the building permits expire, a renewal can be a long wait, and delays will only further deterioration of the pier. Putting in the pilings is also limited to a brief window. Lanzetta explained that the pilings must go in between September and October since the vibration of the piling going into the bedrock of the Hudson River would disturb the fish. Lanzetta aims to get most work done before winter and finish up the project in the spring of 2020.