More than a dozen city officials came to the north shore of the Riverwalk on Tuesday to break ground on a new section of the path, scheduled to be built this summer.
The Riverwalk can be an escape from the rest of downtown Jamestown, offering area residents a quiet path to go for walks or relax.
"The project that we're launching today is about a $250,000 project," said Mayor Sam Teresi. "It's going to be about a 1,000-foot extension of the Riverwalk that is going to be built this summer. Some of the early mobilization activities have already begun, and heavy construction will be beginning in the coming weeks."
Pictured from left are Chris Rogers, BPU; John Merino, Gebbie Foundation; John Williams, Parks Department; Sam Teresi, Mayor; Jeff Lehman, DPW; Rod Drake, JRC; Lillian Ney; Harry Snellings, JPD; Julia Ciesla-Hanley, Parks Department; Jim Goodling, JRC; Vince DeJoy, Director of Development; Journey Gunderson, Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy; Matt Russo, JFD, Russell Dietrick
The project, which will extend the blacktop path of the Riverwalk along the north shore of the Chadakoin River to a point adjacent to Panzarella Park, was made possible by the recent acquisition of the strip of land that was previously owned by Blackstone NEY Ultrasonics. After being acquired by the Gebbie Foundation, a portion of the land was granted to the city for use in the Riverwalk system. The construction plans for this section of the Riverwalk will also include the installation of decorative lighting along the trail; a stream bank-stabilization system; park amenities such as benches, picnic tables and trash cans; landscaping, including trees and grasses; and the preparation of links and departure points for the planned pedestrian bridge crossings to Panzarella Park.
"The Gebbie Foundation is continuing to work with us and our other partners to make this Riverwalk happen, as well as on more ambitious future plans for the development of the Riverwalk," said Teresi. "This is the first of two segments of the Riverwalk that we'll be breaking ground on this summer. At a later point, we'll be reconvening in the Chadakoin Park area where we again have been able to package enough state and local financing to build another section of the Riverwalk through Chadakoin Park from Eighth Street all the way out to the city line at Fluvanna."
For the extension of the Riverwalk behind Blackstone NEY Ultrasonics, the city of Jamestown is relying on a $112,500 New York state environmental protection fund grant, a $19,000 grant from the Gebbie Foundation and the city is also matching the funds provided by the state, as well as providing labor, materials and equipment.
"Things are happening," said Teresi. "The main section has been built, planning continues to move forward to get out to the McCrea Point Boat Landing. This is how things get done in the city of Jamestown. We can't do it alone as a city government. We generally can't do it alone as a philanthropic community or as a private sector. But as we come together and when everyone is pulling together in the right direction and for the right reasons, we're able to move mountains, or at least large sums of dirt, and make good things happen from an economic standpoint."
John Merino, CEO of the Gebbie Foundation, reiterated the commitment of the foundation to partner with the city in the future in order to develop a public recreation and entertainment space adjacent to this segment of the Riverwalk on the remainder of the property that was acquired from Blackstone NEY Ultrasonics.
"The idea is to turn it into a park that has public access and to build a connector to the train station that goes over the railway so that people from Second Street can walk right out and gain access to the waterfront," said Merino. "Eventually it will be part of a grander waterfront plan, but I think the community will see over the next couple of years all of that become a reality. This will be a very nice place for folks in the community to enjoy the outdoors, community events, family activities - things of that nature. The train station will be at the core of it."
Mayor Teresi compared the city's goal with the Riverwalk to that of Canalside in Buffalo, both for recreational purposes and enjoying the natural environment, as well as for entertainment.
"This is going to be our smaller version of Canalside right here in Jamestown," said Teresi. "While Gebbie has spearheaded it by procuring the property, we'll be working together in partnership to seek other avenues of funding to help with the development of this. It will be a partnership. It will be a tag-team effort between the Gebbie Foundation, the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation and the city of Jamestown to build this out over the course of the coming months and years, to connect it to downtown and the waterfront and to build it up as a venue for community events and performances."