Hudson Crossing Park's Story
In 1999, a "Scenic Byway" designation for N.Y.S. Route 4, between Waterford and Whitehall, provided an opportunity for community projects with the potential to spark economic development. A renewed interest in local travel, a market that embraced historical, cultural, and educational tourism, and increased promotion of the N.Y.S. Canal System, set the stage for an innovative bi-county public park. In 2000, the Park was the number one recommendation in a Champlain Canal Corridor Management Plan.
A grassroots steering committee formed; volunteers, Planners, school leaders, and elected officials from Saratoga and Washington Counties came together to work. Phil Lord, at that time Director of Museum Services for the N.Y.S. Museum, played an integral role in the start-up committee. Initial work began with a "Friends of Stark's Knob" group. Volunteers secured funding for signage, cleared trails, and hosted public events. Month after month committee members met to envision a park that could benefit local communities and serve a multi-generational audience. Slowly, an interweaving of history, geology, and environmental conscience began to emerge.
After receiving encouragement from the N.Y.S. Canal Corporation and local Town officials, "Hudson Crossing: A Bi-County Educational Park" (HCP) became a reality and the search for funding began in earnest.
New volunteers joined the committee. Folks joined Scenic Hudson's "RiverSweep" clean-up efforts and National Trails Day celebrations. Volunteers donated professional services - surveying, planning, graphic design, architectural concept drawings, and consulting were provided "pro-bono". Momentum grew as outreach efforts increased. In 2004, a public "charrette" attracted over 100 people. Overwhelming support for the project was evident and once again new volunteers stepped forward. Grants from both public and private channels provided the necessary monies for trails, signage and further planning efforts.
In 2005 the committee forged a strong working relationship with students and faculty members at Skidmore College. Student interns brought energy and insight; they organized workshops and the first "Hudson Fest" on Champlain Canal Lock 5 Island and helped with the Hudson Crossing Cardboard Boat Race at Fort Hardy Park. A Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (L.W.R.P.) grant application, initiated and written by members of HCP, and submitted by the Town of Saratoga, was approved by the N.Y.S. Department of State. Hudson Crossing became a leader in this far-reaching intermunicipal planning effort.
In the spring of 2006, HCP incorporated as an educational corporation in the state of N.Y. Just a few months later, the Park received recognition from the I.R.S. as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit entity. Grants allowed the Park's first paid staff person to come on-board in 2007 as project manager for the Hudson Crossing Play Garden and in 2012 to lead the Green Ribbon School Project.
Ongoing collaboration with local planners, landscape architects, and volunteers, led the Park to innovative and well-designed working documents. A "Multi-Modal" Trail Master Plan, a feasibility study and concept drawings for the proposed Environmental Education Center, and an Interpretive Plan now provide a "Mission-Driven" framework for moving the Park forward.
In 2012, with the Park thriving, the Board of Directors was restructured to provide a stronger base of leadership ensuring the long-term sustainability and fulfillment of the Mission of Hudson Crossing Park.
Where Hudson Crossing Park is Today
Today Hudson Crossing Park welcomes over 6,000 visitors a year, serves school children from more than four local districts with low- or no-cost educational programming, and offers events and programming year round. Open from dawn until dusk 365 days a year, Hudson Crossing Park offers visitors a place learn and explore, enjoying the many resources that our amazing area has to offer.
Proposed Environmental Education Center
Always with an eye to the future and growth of Hudson Crossing, the Environmental Education Center is envisioned to address perhaps the most prominent issue in the heritage of land conservation and use practices: the balance of sustainable, environmental and economic planning. The Environmental Education Center at Hudson Crossing will be both an incubator for the growing study and practice of environmentally sensitive logy, and a necessary catalyst to help jump-start a community toward economic redevelopment. The Center's mission is this: To promote the sensitivity of our connection with nature, to ensure that future generations as well as present learn that the environment is not ours to be used, but an integral sustaining force in our every day lives.