DELMAR — Bethlehem tied a pretty ribbon around its newest town park in an opening ceremony at the newly named Normans Kill Ravines nature park on Wednesday, May 26.
“So many people came together to create this park, from Town employees to the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, our hard-working mountain bike volunteers to the Normanside Country Club, and even an Eagle Scout,” said Town Supervisor David VanLuven. “I’m so pleased that this beautiful landscape is now open for residents and visitors alike to enjoy before heading to the nearby Four Corners commercial district for food and something to drink.”
The ceremony came just months after the Town Board closed on the purchase of approximately 69 acres from Normanside County Club, extending the park to a total of 147 acres of nature park.
Normans Kill Ravines extends to the east near Salisbury Road and spans west to an entrance on Wright Lane. It’s northern border protects more than 3,000 feet of Normans Kill shoreline, lending its name to the new park.
The land acquisition cost the town $146,900. Included into the price tag is a $11,900 land survey and a $1,000 option-to-buy previously held by Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. The purchase is covered through funds already earmarked under the town’s Town Parkland Set Aside Fund.
The Parkland Set Aside Fund is one of two, prominent tools the town has utilized in its pursuit to preserve open space. Since 2016, the town has protected 93 acres under its Conservation Easement Exemption program. The program took off in earnest after Bethlehem Central School DIstrict agreed to offer tax-break incentives. More than 40 acres were committed under an agreement settled last December off of Blessing Road.
“This is a wonderful addition to the Town of Bethlehem park system and the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is very pleased that we were able to assist with the project,” said Mark King, Executive Director. “As we learned during the pandemic, parks and outdoor spaces are a critical part of our community infrastructure, and this newest park will help serve a critical community need. We also want to thank Normanside Country Club’s Dave Hostig for patiently working to make this acquisition possible.”
The Normanside Country Club has long allowed neighbors to use its former land for hiking and hunting.
“Normanside is happy to continue its legacy of making the community a priority. We hope our property can become a valued treasure to the town and community for years to come. The community is our customer and the customer is always our focus,” said David Hostig, Normanside Country Club.
The new park is within walking and biking distance of residential neighborhoods, the Albany County rail trail, and Delmar’s Four Corners. The park is nature-focused and offers landscape views of forests, ravines, floodplains, and more than a half mile of Normans Kill shoreline.
The Town is partnering with Pinnacle Trail Design and Construction, a professional trail design company, and a local mountain biking group to help design and build walking and biking trails.
The initial design is for a 3.5-mile walking and biking loop around the property, and about 3.5 miles of concentrated mountain biking trails in the park’s center. A professionally designed trail construction plan will ensure compatibility with all park users.
“I am thrilled to be part of a unique new park in Bethlehem that will allow for more outdoor activity to our town residents and mountain bikers,” said Mark Bryant, a mountain biking enthusiast. “I am thrilled to be part of a unique new park in Bethlehem that will allow for more outdoor activity to our town residents and mountain bikers. I am especially looking forward to how the business community will benefit from the new park being so close to the center of town where people can socialize at restaurants.”I am especially looking forward to how the business community will benefit from the new park being so close to the center of town where people can socialize at restaurants.”
The country club allowed the hunting through a 10-year lease permitting Salisbury Road Deer Management Group, a four-member club, to bow hunt deer on the land.
Last December, the town amended code to allow bow hunting on the Normanside property in order to honor the lease signed in 2019. Hunting will still be prohibited in all other town parklands, including the Wright Lane property.
John Boyd Thacher State Park and the Holt Preserve in New Scotland are among several state parks, nature conservancies and preserves that allow for bow hunting. Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy said it has managed hunting on three of its preserves for decades.
Spotlight News, The Spot 518 and Capital District Family Now are divisions of Community Media Group, LLC. Our local offices are located at 341 Delaware Ave, Delmar, NY 12054. You can contact us at 518.439.4949.