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Section 5 - Recommendations and Action Plan Matrix

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The final section of the Mohawk Towpath Byway's Scenic Conservation Action Plan containing recommendation and the Action Plan Matrix.

The final section of the Mohawk Towpath Byway's Scenic Conservation Action Plan containing recommendation and the Action Plan Matrix.

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  • 1. SECTION 5. RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION PLAN MATRIX Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Conservation Action Plan 5.1 OVERALL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ENTIRE BYWAY CORRIDOR The following overall recommendations for Scenic and Aesthetic Preservation, Management and Enhancement are derived from the Landscape Analysis, the guidance and input of the Byway Coalition members, and from principles established in Scenic Byways - A Design Guide for Roadside Improvements prepared for the Federal Highway Administration by the United States Forest Service. These recommendations provide a point of departure for the Byway Coalition to work with its partners (see the recommendations set forth for a “Byway Summit” in this summary) to forward the overall goals of the Byway and its Corridor Management Plan and to tackle, on a segment-bysegment and project-by-project basis. 5.1.1 CONDUCT A BYWAY SUMMIT AND FOLLOW UP EVENTS Partnerships, some formal, some informal, will be essential in developing Byway infrastructure, as well as for protecting and enhancing the distinct characteristics which are present along the corridor. The notion of a Byway Summit was one in which those potential partnerships could be identified and initiated. There is no question that collaboration of this sort is essential for successful Byways. The summit would bring to the table all potential “partners” for the Byway efforts - and the Byway philosophy not only encourages collaboration among various groups and entities, but recognizes that this collaboration is essential to further reinforce and enhance the Byway and its associated projects and activities. The Byway Summit would invite all potential parties and partners (municipalities and department representatives, citizen groups, non-profits, hospitality businesses or business groups along the Corridor, state agencies, etc.) to a day long event and workshop that could actually result in an action plan that identifies projects, partners, steps to implement, potential costs and necessary resources. The Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Coalition has outlined the format for such an event, which is fleshed out as follows: a. Present An Overview of the Byway - its goals, philosophy, a summary of the Corridor Management Plan and the Scenic Conservation and Enhancement initiative. b. Provide an Overview of the Value and Benefits of the Byway - How it contributes to economic development, tourism and the local quality of life in the Mohawk Valley. c. The Plan for the Conservation and Enhancement of the Scenic, Cultural and Historic Landscapes of the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway - Further identification and discussion of recommended projects and initiatives. d. Development of An Action Plan including the Corridor Enhancement Plan - Working with the attendees to identify, prioritize, describe and allocate resources as part of an overall Action Plan for Scenic Conservation and Enhancement. 5-1
  • 2. SECTION 5. ACTION PLAN MATRIX Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Conservation Action Plan The Byway Summit provides the point of departure for ongoing and regular meetings of the Byway Partners Group to be established at the Summit Event. This group will track proposals, funding, and identify sub committees that will plan and shepherd specific implementation projects. The Coalition can work with the Summit Partners to develop a protocol and process for implementation of projects in each community consistent with the community’s interests and capabilities. 5.1.2 DEVELOP A CORRIDOR ENHANCEMENT PLAN The Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Coalition has articulated the challenge for this byway and its enhancement: “Since our Byway passes through various types of landscapes it is difficult to come up with global solutions for all.” Each segment has its specific qualities, character and opportunities, and a next step for this initiative would be to develop more detailed plans and recommendations for specific implementation projects. The enhancements will be different for each identified enhancement area and the Coalition, with its partners, can tackle, on a segment-by-segment and project-by-project basis, the individual areas. Priorities for funding and sources of funding will need to be identified along with action items for the appropriate “partners” - indeed these projects typically will require collaboration between the Byway Coalition and the involved municipality, as well as other community, regional non-profit and/or state agencies or entities with an interest in the particular property, area or project. From a specific and appropriate plan for the reclamation of the landfill site, to streetscape and bike/pedestrian improvements along other sections, to developing templates and technical details for specific pull off areas, there are a number of feasible projects that can be low cost and community oriented, to larger scale, larger cost, longer term efforts. Thus, the Enhancement Plan will identify for each project area the need for and proposed outcome from the recommended improvements, as well as provide detailed site plans of the proposed enhancements as a basis for costing and eventual construction. For example, along the corridor section following Erie Boulevard in Schenectady, the effort would possibly focus on: 1) streetscape and pedestrian improvements, 2) support for individual property enhancements such as shared access, improved signage and landscaping; 3) interpretation of the historic manufacturing buildings and activities; and, 4) clear guidance from wayfinding elements identifying the corridor (with banners and signs or other elements) and its associated elements (i.e. identifying the Canal Path segment, and directing visitors and bicyclists to the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway Trailhead). Another compelling need in several locations along the Towpath Byway Corridor is the opportunity to develop some roadside pull off areas to facilitate visitor’s enjoyment and understanding of the Byway. These pull offs can be located at historic sites and scenic overlooks, most of which have already been identified. The accompanying illustration provides a general overview of the “ingredients” of such pull off area. 5-2
  • 3. SECTION 5. RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION PLAN MATRIX Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Conservation Action Plan Other potential projects would include working with the Solid Waste District in Colonie to address landfill closure and aesthetics, and this has regional significance due to its high visibility along the river, as well as continued scenery preservation in identified locations to protect important natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic assets along the Byway. Developing tools and a list and criteria for prioritization of such land conservation initiatives would be one component of the overall Enhancement Plan. Basic Ingredients of a Pull-off Key: A. Parking area D. Trailheads G. Fencing J. Dog Park B. Kisok/ Info E. Sculpture H. Picnic tables K. Bollards/Posts C. Interpretive Signs F. Scenic views I. Shelter (opt. restroom) L. Landscaping 5.1.3 ENHANCE WAYFINDING AND IDENTITY PROGRAM “The byway’s identity should be apparent throughout the entire byway, even when it encompasses a variety of elements and environments. It may be necessary to vary some of the elements so that each facility fits its purpose and location. ...Repeating elements of the byway’s image gives everything a more unified and organized appearance, lets visitors focus on the information being presented, and creates a more memorable experience.” (from Scenic Byways - A Design Guide for Roadside Improvements, page 32) 5-3
  • 4. SECTION 5. ACTION PLAN MATRIX Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Conservation Action Plan The primary and most effective global strategy to strengthen the Byway, its presence in the landscape and access to and appreciation of its varied resources, will be to develop a more intensive and extensive visual and physical presence that stands out against the varied and visually chaotic settings that exist in some stretches of the byway. A comprehensive wayfinding program promotes the image and identity of, access to and information about the Mohawk Towpath Byway. Examples and ideas for this range from a comprehensive wayfinding plan to a banner program. The existing trail blazer signs along the corridor and the new interpretive kiosk at Crescent Park are an important first step, and these elements need to be strengthened and expanded. This is one of the key steps or initiatives, which can better unify, connect and link the Byway through its varied sections. This is particularly important given the varied character and environments, which exist along the Byway’s 28 miles of established corridor segments. Coordinated efforts, such as those with the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission, the New York State Canal Corporation, and the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission, should continue, and should work towards developing a unified program to help connect and delineate the byway corridor. New York State Department of Transportation prepared a guide for Byway signing and wayfinding that can serve as a point of departure (New York State Scenic Byways Sign Manual, New York State Scenic Byways Program, New York State Department of Transportation, 2005). The popular and successful kiosks in the Towns of Halfmoon and Clifton Parkprovide a working template for the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway. Another project, which provides the basis for understanding the components of a comprehensive wayfinding system, is the Connecticut River Byway’s wayfinding initiative, which encompasses two states, two sides of the river and over 200 miles of byway corridor. The system developed is based on a compelling “brand” or “mark” for the Byway and includes everything from kiosks and interpretive signs, to pedestrian and auto directional signs, and site identification elements. 5.1.4 IMPLEMENT AN EDUCATIONAL AND PARTICIPATORY PLANNING PROGRAM This recommendation is forwarded as a means of sustaining interest and involvement in the Byway over time. There are a number of options to consider that will promote the Byway, provide opportunities for residents and visitors to appreciate the Byway, and engage other constituents for ongoing support. In Vermont, for example, the Mad River Byway holds an annual “Walk ‘n Roll” event to promote walking and biking along the byway and to support safe travel on the highway, Route 100, which forms the primary route for experiencing the Byway. This community event, over the course of a week, includes a number of activities, which help to involve local residents in the byway and supports alternative modes of travel and bicycle safety. Likewise, the first annual “Walk the Byway” event (see sidebar at left) and the Annual Mohawk Towpath Byway Duathlon, now in its 5-4
  • 5. SECTION 5. RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION PLAN MATRIX Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Conservation Action Plan 12th year, are also good examples of events here on the Mohawk Byway, which should be continued and further developed. Other options include involving local schools and historical societies in workshops and developing events that have a broad appeal. These types of events and activities further reinforce the viability of the byway while providing opportunities for community gathering, education and recreation. Thus, the Coalition can work with its partners to identify and develop both an annual event for the whole byway as well as specific, targeted public involvement opportunities. 5.2 ACTION PLAN MATRIX The following table provides a proposed schedule for implementing the initiatives in this report. This plan is not static and can and should adjust to variables that usually occur during any project process. INITIATIVE/RECOMMENDATION A. EDUCATION 1 - 2 3-4 1. Promote understanding of scenic and landscape resource management by participating in development review or meeting with local planning boards. 2. Consider various initiatives to raise awareness of the Byway, in particular programs that involve students and schools. 3. Use multiple means and media to promote information and guidance about the Byway. A. PROMOTION 1. Create scenic pull-offs along Crescent-Cohoes Road, Riverview Road and Aqueduct Road. 2. Promote the value of an online presence through the website, blog, etc. 3. Expand the number of fine historic, bike and river tours, festivals and events to attract, engage, and educate visitors. 4. Consider additional tourism infrastructure and amenities at key sites. 5. Create a master plan for the Byway, building off of the interpretive signs and kiosks already implemented. 6-10 OG ✓* ✓* ✓* ✓ ✓* ✓* ✓* ✓* * See Objective 1 in the Byway’s Business Plan For 2014. 5-5
  • 6. SECTION 5. ACTION PLAN MATRIX Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Conservation Action Plan INITIATIVE/RECOMMENDATION A. ACCESS 1 - 2 3-4 6-10 OG 1. Continue to develop and integrate recreational opportunities, amenities and infrastructure. 2. Consider additional locations for an observation deck or viewing areas of the river and canal infrastructure, such as those installed at Mohawk Landing or Falls View Park. 3. Work with developers for trail right-of-way, improvements, and connections to existing trails and bike paths. 4. Continue to develop and improve access areas to the canal and river. Specific projects to improve access may include: ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ -Improving the state dock next to Crescent Bridge ✓ -Widening shoulders of roads along the Byway ✓ ✓ -A bike path on Rexford Bridge -The planned construction of the new Roosevelt Bridge -A bike path to connect the north/south trail systems ✓ -Neighborhood walking guides, biking guides, and connectivity to support trails being developed in the East End -New sites for scenic pull-offs ✓ ✓ -Working with National Grid to promote multiple use of transmission corridors A. SCENIC ENHANCEMENT, REDEVELOPMENT & PROTECTION 1. Open old canal or establish bike paths from north end to Albany City to Cohoes. 2. Re-vegetate and reuse the Colonie Landfill 3. Work with NYS Power Authority and developers for access opportunities, improvements, and conservation or open space protection. 4. Create long-term management, maintenance, and use of historic sites and structures. 5. Develop scenic pull-offs. 6. Identify key viewsheds or scenic views to protect. 7. Develop a toolbox for scenic and landscape resource management. Some specific concerns and opportunities related to scenic resource management include: -Consider the use and fate of historical buildings and pursue preservation and acquisition grants 5-6 ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓
  • 7. SECTION 5. RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION PLAN MATRIX Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Conservation Action Plan INITIATIVE/RECOMMENDATION 1 - 2 3-4 -Implement the Cohoes Crescent Road Improvements Alternatives Analysis ✓ 6-10 OG -Evaluate invasive species control measures including milfoil and water chestnuts -Expand riverside and roadside clean-up events like Canal Clean Sweep and Town Highway adoption programs -Mitigate run-off from development ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ -Address use of Colonie landfill -Identify alternative fundraising possibilities -Promote open space or scenic preservation as a part of the development review and approval process A. COLLABORATION ✓ 1. Further solidify existing partnerships and identify potential future collaborators. 2. Identify all entities and organizations working in the Byway region to promote tourism, scenic resources and open space management, recreational options and amenities. 3. Maintain or establish relevant programs that provide opportunities for collaboration, such as grants and other initiatives. A. OTHER IMPORTANT INITIATIVES ✓ ✓ ✓ Urban Streetscape Considerations and Opportunities 1. In Waterford and Schenectady there are too many signs: commercial signs, regulatory signs, wayfinding, real estate and more Crescent-Cohoes Road ✓ ✓ ✓ 1. Widen road and add pull-offs at key scenic and historic locations 2. Develop a park at the power plant 3. Add a bike/pedestrian path to discourage walking on the road shoulder 4. Repair and improve riverside scenic and safety issues ✓ ✓ ✓ 5. Improve drainage 6. Interpretation of military crossing ✓ Landfill at Colonie 1. Evaluate timeframe for the redevelopment process and look at other relevant projects 2. Add roadside screening buffers to both minimize scenic impact and catch airborne debris 3. Improve runoff catchment ✓ ✓ ✓ 5-7
  • 8. SECTION 5. ACTION PLAN MATRIX Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Conservation Action Plan INITIATIVE/RECOMMENDATION 4. Revegetate with appropriate species, including dwarf flowering trees and wildflowers 5. Build pathways for recreation 6. Conduct semi-annual (or more often if necessary) roadside clean-up ALCO Industrial 1 - 2 3-4 ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ 1. Add vegetative softening and other roadside landscape elements 2. Create a small park with increased tree and grass areas 3. Add pull-offs with green space and interpretive signs 4. Extend the character of neighboring communities with new construction Aqueduct 1. Improve access to Aqueduct Park 2. Promote bicyclist and pedestrian use in the area and provide connections to the bikeway 3. Improve river access, including a boat launch 6-10 OG ?* ✓ ?* ✓ 4. Use vegetative control on the aqueduct structure Historic Areas and Retaining Community Character 1. Review the inventory of historic areas in the Corridor Management Plan, and within individual municipal comprehensive plans 2. Formalize the “signage family” to unify adjacent communities and facilitate navigation 3. Collate community guidelines and projects that provide useful examples for historic resource management and preservation Scenic Areas and Suburban Sprawl Issues ✓ ✓ ✓ 1. Maintain open space buffers along roadways ✓ 2. Maintain character and architectural style in growing suburban areas 3. Plan new vista points, “refuge areas”, and pull-offs ✓ 4. Improve and add new trailheads, access signs, and foot trails ✓ ✓ Improve Access to Recreational Facilities and Opportunities 1. At Rexford Bridge, Power Authority, Ferry Drive, and Twin Bridges, among others * These items have been accomplished ...or do they need to be revisited? ejh 5-8 ✓
  • 9. SECTION 5. RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION PLAN MATRIX Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Conservation Action Plan INITIATIVE/RECOMMENDATION 1 - 2 3-4 6-10 OG Improve Route 9 Gateway in Halfmoon 1. Reinforce proposal to develop a boulevard appearance for the road, as set forth in the Town’s Comprehensive Master Plan ✓ 5-9