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Perales praises Potsdam park project


POTSDAM — New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales praised the village’s commitment to waterfront beautification and lauded state and local partnerships at a ceremonial ground breaking Wednesday morning, marking the start of construction for a slew of renovations to Ives Park.

“If we could get more people up to the north country they will fall in love with it and come back again and again,” he said.

A number of state and local officials gathered at the park’s riverside gazebo for the event.

The project will bring a bevy of improvements to the park. The riverside walkway will be widened and extended, vegetation will be planted along the water to discourage geese and new lighting will be installed.

In addition, a floating dock will be built to use as a canoe and kayak launch.

“It’s already beautiful. We’re just going to make it more beautiful,” said Mayor Steven W. Yurgartis.

The project will cost about $250,000 to complete, and is scheduled to be finished in July. The village of Potsdam will provide $50,000 toward the work, mostly in equipment use and in-kind services instead of cash. The state will provide the remaining $200,000.

This money also includes the funds to design an open-air shelter for the Potsdam Farmer’s Market along with a playground, although additional funds will be needed before these improvements can be built.

Village leaders hope these renovations will play into Potsdam’s long-term effort to create an attractive waterfront community that will draw both tourists and residents.

Mr. Perales is one of five judges who determine how the state’s Regional Economic Development Council funds are distributed, and helped secure the money for Ives Park. He said a focus on tourism and culture has proven successful in places like Lake George, and hopes to see the same thing happen in north country communities.

“It’s going to make a big difference,” he said.

He spoke about the state’s commitment to local partnerships, an initiative that began three years ago with the creation of the regional economic development councils.

“It’s a fabulous opportunity for a New York City kid like me to see how beautiful New York is, and help to revitalize it.”

Anthony G. Collins, president of Clarkson University and cochairman of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, spoke at the groundbreaking, calling the project a symbol of increased cooperation between the state and local communities.

“It’s really a sign of the future of what can be done with state and regional partnerships,” he said.

After leaving Potsdam, Mr. Perales visited Tupper Lake to learn more about maple sugar production in New York.

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