DELMAR-As the well-known Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail tracks from Watervliet to Voorheesville, it hovers close to the newly designated Normans Kill Ravines Park. Delmar residents Mark Bryant and Gene Primomo see Normans Kill Ravines Park as a park that can bring a community together.
“What makes the park unique is the topography; it is unlike any other town park,” said Bethlehem Town Parks and Recreation Administrator Jason Gallo.
The park that has the Normans Kill creek also has forests filled with 300 acres of oak and birch trees. “Gorgeous ravines, views of the Normans Kill, real old-growth trees, and beautiful views,” he added. He likens the park to the experience of being in the scenic Adirondacks.
Throughout the past few years, Bryant and Primomo began to envision formally finding the resources to build a multi-use trail that residents could utilize. Primomo says that revisiting the area almost forty years later deepened his perspective, and he felt “stewardship for preserving the land for future generations.”
Bryant remembered how it wasn’t until analyzing maps that the extent of the land was discovered. “It’s a very unknown resource in our town,” he remarked.
Primomo lives near the land and sees many people use it for hiking, walking, snowshoeing, skiing, and bird watching. The varied terrain makes it ideal for a multi-use trail system and park. This distinctive topography also provides opportunities for mountain biking, which would necessitate the development of an expanded trail system.
“I want to try to build for Normans Kill Ravines a high-quality park that will allow for folks to come from inside our town and outside of our town to enjoy this park,” Bryant commented.
He believes that the proximity of the park to the Four Corners and local businesses will help to “endorse the small business owners and small business-owned restaurants in town.”
While the park is still in its early stages, they have completed an important State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process and are finalizing additional permits for further expansion. An upcoming development will be the construction of a professional trail system. Jason Gallo anticipates that there will be even more progress made in the park within the coming year that will aid in its accessibility and multi-use purposes.
“I would be remiss if I did not mention the countless volunteers who are imperative to making this park a success,” said Jason Gallo.
He credits the local mountain biking community for their volunteerism and support in getting the park developed. Individual donors’ financial support and Mark Bryant and Lisa Callahan’s matching donations through the Friends of the Bethlehem Parks and Recreation have aided in the growth of the park.
Currently, trails have been ‘sketched out’ by the avid volunteers. Eagle Scout Colin King organized volunteers and fellow scouts to create signage for the trailhead. Maps and photographs on the Town of Bethlehem’s website also provide further information about the park.
With the goal of continuing to develop local parks and trails such as Normans Kill Ravines, a group of committed local volunteers is in the process of forming a nonprofit association that will be called the Bethlehem Trail Association.
The association will be similar to Friends of Bethlehem Parks and Recreation. It will be equipped to organize volunteers, assist with trail system financial support, and contribute to and develop trail systems.
Bryant is optimistic about the association’s future success and the many benefits of the Normans Kill Ravines Park. “We’ve got this gem of a town,” he enthused.
“I have all kinds of visions for this… creating parks and pavilions down there, all kinds of uses,” said Primomo. “It’s just an asset that makes this town just another reason to come here.”