SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
2.1 OVER...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

2.2 LANDSCAPE CATEGORIES
2.2.1 HIGHWAY COMME...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

2. Streetscape elements like trees, pedestri...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

4. Incompatible architecture and conflicting ...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

B. Issues
•

Traffic congestion and delays m...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

2.2.2 WORKING LANDSCAPE
A. General Descripti...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

More recent photo coming.

6. This key ALCO ...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

More recent photo coming

8. The Colonie lan...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

•

Wide right-of-way and deep setbacks provi...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

9. Interpretive signage is disconnected from...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

11. The Open Land sections of the Byway prov...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

B. Issues
•

Inadequate Byway recognition an...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

fragmentation of critical resources and can ...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

14. Open meadows, orchards, and farm fields d...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

16. Grazing horses and green fields create a ...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

4. Assist /support local municipalities with...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

17. This short section of Residential on the...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

19. Single-family homes with multiple access...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

B. Issues
•

Driveways and access points can...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

Byway and its residents. The businesses pres...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

22. Historic residences with wide green lawn...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

24. Canal remnants such as those in Lock 2 P...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

B. Issues
•

No clear definition of the Bywa...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

2.2.7 HISTORIC
A. General Description
The Hi...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

26. Large street trees in the Stockade Distr...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

28. Many of the homes in Crescent Hamlet in ...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

30. Spectacular views of Cohoes Falls are no...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

•

Communicate with and engage local residen...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

2.3 OVERVIEW OF SCENIC CONSERVATION INITIATI...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

SCENIC CONSERVATION ELEMENT
● = Regulates wi...
SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan

the visual quality of the Byway. Due to the ...
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Section 2 Inventory and Assessment

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The inventory and assessment section of the Mohawk Towpath Byway Scenic Conservation Action Plan including an inventory of existing conditions and an overview of scenic conservation initiatives in the Byway’s community’s comprehensive plans.

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Section 2 Inventory and Assessment

  1. 1. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT 2.1 OVERVIEW The following analysis separates the Byway into eight Landscape Categories, which are based on our appraisal of existing land use conditions along the road (Note: These descriptions were developed for purposes of the visual study and are NOT zoning designations. An overview of the Byway community’s comprehensive plans is provided in final section of this analysis). Existing conditions were inventoried during three separate on-site visits, as well as through analysis of aerial photography. The Landscape Analysis maps (Sheets 1 through 13) that accompany this report identify the Landscape Categories of the road on aerial photos and help orient readers to their locations along the corridor. Each Landscape Category described herein provides a general description of the existing conditions and identifies key issues and opportunities related to the Byway’s visual character. Each section concludes with an initial approach to key scenic conservation recommendations that will help guide the development of a detailed scenic conservation action plan in the second phase of work. "Scene on Erie Canal, Cohoes, N.Y." (22404, Souvenir Post Card Co., New York) -- Postcard ; postmarked Jul. 8, 1908. http://www.eriecanal.org/east-2.html 2-1
  2. 2. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 2.2 LANDSCAPE CATEGORIES 2.2.1 HIGHWAY COMMERCIAL A. General Description The sections of Highway Commercial along the Byway typically contain automobile-, highway-oriented commercial developments with some light industry/wholesale businesses. The uses may involve outdoor activities and/or storage areas like car and fuel sales, retail/ service establishments, and general office facilities. The Highway Commercial areas are typically medium to low density with large lots and sizeable parking areas. Building design and placement are generally inconsistent between adjacent properties. Multiple curb cuts, excessive pavement, varying setbacks, limited vegetation and discordant signs are the typical landscape pattern. The businesses present in this area typically serve local residents, as well as motorists passing through the Byway. The road along these sections of the Byway is typically characterized as a major arterial with wider road widths (and multi-lanes in some areas) allowing for higher speeds, volumes, and through traffic. Many collector roads from denser residential areas (i.e. the Stockade District) typically feed into these sections of the highway. Access may be uncoordinated and excessive in places with a tendency toward large curb cuts. Sidewalks are not present in all areas and less emphasis is placed on streetscape and visual quality. The areas identified as Highway Commercial along the Byway are among the most visually challenged. The following photographs illustrate the general character of the Highway Commercial sections of the Byway (see also Sheets 1–4, 9, 12): 1. Some parking areas contain excessive pavement with little if any visual relief 2-2
  3. 3. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 2. Streetscape elements like trees, pedestrian amenities (i.e. benches) and pedestrianscale lighting are limited 3. Many businesses require outdoor storage and/or displays of goods and supplies 2-3
  4. 4. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 4. Incompatible architecture and conflicting building elements diminish the historic appeal of the Byway 5. Multiple curb cuts, varying setbacks, limited vegetation and discordant signs contribute to the lack of scenic qualities along some stretches of the Highway Commercial sections 2-4
  5. 5. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan B. Issues • Traffic congestion and delays may affect desirability of visiting and doing business along parts of the Byway corridor • Buildings set far apart by vast pavement and parking areas with minimal landscaping, lighting and wide curb cuts discourage walking • Uncoordinated access and large curb cuts jeopardize pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular safety and detract from the visual and functional quality of the landscape • Signs and lighting vary greatly in size, material, colors, legibility, illumination, placement, amount, and overall design, ultimately confusing users and reducing scenic quality • Inconsistent architectural details, building elements, and placement diminish the historic nature of the area and create a discordant, disconnected and unappealing physical environment C. Opportunities • Wide right-of-way provides opportunity for streetscape enhancements including street trees and landscaping, sidewalks and bicycle lanes, and pedestrian-scale lighting • Curb cuts can be reduced and/or reconfigured for shared access, improving safety and enhancing the visual qualities of the highway and its land uses • Unused parking areas provide opportunities for infill development including pedestrian mini-parks or “pause places” D. Preliminary Recommendations 1. Review and refine local zoning to support shared access and parking and to provide support and opportunities for infill development. Consider the adoption of design guidelines to support improved architectural and sign design while still acknowledging the commercial/industrial character of the corridor. 2. Prepare a Corridor Enhancement Plan to address all aspects of corridor aesthetics and functionality to include a study of potential build out options, infill development, shared access and parking, enhanced and more consistent lighting; improved walking conditions with benches strategically located and effective landscaping. 3. Provide support for incremental streetscape improvements and enhancements to include: 1) The establishment of a more consistent right of way design and sidewalk layout; 2) the reduction of pavement areas and the replacement of these areas with built form, shared parking or landscaping; 3) a street tree planting program; and, 4) improved wayfinding and public amenities, to include some reference to or acknowledgement of the Byway. 2-5
  6. 6. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 2.2.2 WORKING LANDSCAPE A. General Description The areas along the Byway identified as Working Landscape are used primarily for industrial land uses, including manufacturing, processing, warehousing and related operations that normally require larger land area, have the potential for higher traffic volumes and large truck traffic, or create other conditions (e.g. noise, smell, vibration, etc.) that are incompatible with other types of uses. Theses areas typically have direct access to major transportation routes such as arterial roads, freeways, rail service, and the river. The Working Landscape areas are generally low density with some limited stretches of undeveloped land. Building design varies greatly from historically significant to nondescript, and many are in disrepair or vacant. Landscaping and vegetation are usually nonexistent except in undeveloped areas. The industry present in this area typically serves the region. Thus, these stretches of the Byway corridor serve as connecting elements rather than areas that are integral to the Byway experience. However, many of the industrial buildings are historically significant in their own right and have the potential to contribute to the Byway experience. The Working Landscape section along Erie Boulevard (see Sheet 2) can be characterized as a major arterial with wide road widths and multiple lanes allowing for higher speeds, volumes, and through traffic. The stretch of Byway identified as Working Landscape along Cohoes Crescent road (see Sheet 9) can be described as a collector road with slower speed limits and traffic volumes, which feeds into higher volume highways (e.g. Route 9). Access is limited along both stretches of the Byway identified as Working Landscape. Sidewalks and pedestrian/bicycle amenities are not present. The following photographs illustrate the general character of the Working Landscape sections of the Byway (see also Sheets 2 and 9): 2-6
  7. 7. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan More recent photo coming. 6. This key ALCO site on Erie Boulevard has been virtually non-operational since 1969, with only a small area currently used for steel fabrication, and presents some unique opportunities for redevelopment and direct access to the river 7. New York Power Authority’s Crescent Dam maintains the navigable water level between Lock 6 (below Crescent) and Lock 7 (west of Vischer Ferry). The adjacent power plant is capable of over 9 megawatts. 2-7
  8. 8. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan More recent photo coming 8. The Colonie landfill poses a number of aesthetic and cultural challenges given its presence within the Byway viewshed B. Issues • Vacant buildings, discordant architecture and industrial land uses undermine and detract from the visual character of the Byway • Lack of synchronization between existing uses and the history of the Byway (i.e. no interpretive signage) or connectivity to the past, such as river related industries • No pedestrian or bicycle facilities and amenities • No landscape treatments around buildings or along the road to mask unsightly structures or to create a continuous roadscape aesthetic that ameliorates existing conditions C. Opportunities • Non-operational/vacant sites like ALCO provide excellent opportunities for visually appealing redevelopment as well as expansion of public access to the waterfront • Restoration and reuse of historically and architecturally significant buildings can help convey stories of the Byway past • Opportunity to tell the story of how industry helped shape local communities through the installation of kiosks and signs and/or the development of an information or interpretive center 2-8
  9. 9. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan • Wide right-of-way and deep setbacks provide space for constructing pedestrian and bicycle amenities as well as implementing streetscape elements like trees, shrubs and flowers • Enhancements along the streetscape and improvements within the corridor may also spur reinvestment in these industrial areas D. Preliminary Recommendations 1. The Byway Coalition can work with the municipalities and the local and regional economic development agencies to encourage redevelopment and reinvestment of significant industrial buildings and sites as appropriate, and to support street improvements and enhancements. 2. As with other similar sections of the corridors, development of a Corridor Enhancement Plan that addresses pedestrian and bicycle needs and interests as well as provides the means for improving aesthetics along these routes. 3. Explore opportunities for interpretation associated with the more historic uses along the industrialized sections of the corridors. 2.2.3 OPEN LAND A. General Description The Open Land sections of the Byway typically refer to areas that are preserved in a restored, or predominantly natural, open, or undeveloped condition and used for wildlife habitat, cultural, or recreational use, watershed protection or other uses consistent with the preservation of land or in restoration of land to a predominantly natural open and undeveloped condition. The presence of facilities, including trails, historic canal remnants, and scenic pull-offs, that enhance the qualities of the land or facilitate the public's access to or use of the land, may also be present. Much of the Open Land sections of the Byway are contained within Vischer Ferry Nature & Historic Preserve and environs in Clifton Park or along the Mohawk riverfront. The road is characterized as a narrow two-lane arterial or collector with lower speed limits. Dense vegetation typically enfolds the Byway with intermittent views to the river. There is little if any recognition of the Byway due to a lack of signage. The following photographs illustrate the general character of the Open Land sections of the Byway (see Sheets 3, 7, and 8): 2-9
  10. 10. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 9. Interpretive signage is disconnected from the Byway and needs improvement 10. One of the wetland complexes found along this section of the Byway 2-10
  11. 11. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 11. The Open Land sections of the Byway provide ideal wildlife habitat 12. Narrower lane widths and dense vegetation characterize the undeveloped nature of this portion of the Byway 2-11
  12. 12. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan B. Issues • Inadequate Byway recognition and/or interpretive signage • Narrow lane widths and limited or no shoulders combined with dense vegetation and short sight distances make bicycle and pedestrian travel more difficult and even hazardous • Very few scenic pull-offs or improved parking areas, with none officially designated C. Opportunities • Existing signs and kiosks like the ones at Whipple Bridge can be enhanced to provide information about the Byway • Existing informal parking areas can be improved for safety and access as well as Byway information and interpretation • Historic canal remnants and access to the river provide excellent opportunities for interpretation of the Byway story • Action can be taken now before development occurs to maintain the natural and scenic character of the Byway D. Preliminary Recommendations 1. Develop a comprehensive interpretive sign program for the entire Byway Corridor. 2. Review current Byway Trailblazer sign placement and identify locations along this stretch of highway (and others) where additional Byway identification is warranted. 3. Explore and identify feasible locations for developing a formal Byway wayside or pull off area that coincides with a scenic view or important historic site, in concert with local municipalities. Develop a detailed design for implementing a pull off area that will support a grant application or help in fund raising for constructing the facility. This facility can be developed with a short trail, an informational kiosk, interpretive elements and benches and picnic tables. 2.2.4 RURAL RESIDENTIAL A. General Description The Rural Residential areas of the Byway reflect an interweaving of natural processes and human settlement and are typically comprised of small-scale farming operations mixed with low-density, single-family housing. Commercial uses that are accessory to agricultural activities (i.e. farm stands) are the only enterprises present in this area, which typically serve both local residents and visitors alike. Soils along the Mohawk River are lush and typically of high quality, ideal for agricultural activities and, unfortunately, better suited for development. Greater availability of sizeable parcels, views to the river, and the open scenery make this section of the Byway more desirable for residential growth. Increased domestic growth, however, can lead to 2-12
  13. 13. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan fragmentation of critical resources and can have a significant impact on wildlife and water quality. It can increase conflicts between traditional users and newcomers, and, it also ultimately ends up diminishing the very reason people visit or move to these rural areas: the agrarian rural lifestyle and landscapes that contribute to the aesthetic quality of the Byway. Much of the Rural Residential sections of the Byway are situated along the Mohawk riverfront or close by. The road is characterized as a narrow two-lane rural arterial or collector with moderate speed limits. Dense vegetation contrasts with open lands and intermittent views to the river as this section of the Byway weaves through farm fields, traverses hills, and negotiates windy curves. The following photographs illustrate the general character of the Rural Residential sections of the Byway (see Sheets 5, 6, and 7): 13. The road through these sections of Byway is windy and narrow with little to no shoulder, which makes this rural area so appealing, but inhibits bicycle or pedestrian use 2-13
  14. 14. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 14. Open meadows, orchards, and farm fields define the rural nature of this section of the Byway and are representative of the scenic quality of the region 15. Single-family homes situated on large lots is the typical residential development pattern 2-14
  15. 15. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 16. Grazing horses and green fields create a pastoral character in this section of Byway B. Issues • Inadequate Byway recognition and/or interpretive signage • Narrow lane widths, windy roads, and limited or no shoulders make bicycle and pedestrian travel more hazardous • Very few scenic pull-offs or improved parking areas C. Opportunities • The primary opportunity is to preserve generous open space areas wherever possible while encouraging and supporting clustered development, which will create the least amount of visual and environmental impact. This will help maintain an aesthetic quality consistent with a Byway Experience. • The opportunity also exists to better identify and enhance the Byway Corridor and in so doing elevate awareness and appreciation of, and consequent support for, the Byway. • Improving vehicular and pedestrian safety along this section is important. D. Preliminary Recommendations 1. Implement additional Byway Trailblazer signs and other elements to promote the Byway and identify the corridor. 2. Explore the creation of a legitimate, contextually designed and safely located scenic pull off area to accommodate traveler needs and interest, 3. Explore pedestrian and bicycle safety initiatives such as Share the Road signage. 2-15
  16. 16. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 4. Assist /support local municipalities with technical assistance, funding and planning for roadway improvements/enhancements to better accommodate bicycles and pedestrians in the future. 2.2.5 RESIDENTIAL A. General Description The predominant land use in the Residential sections of the Byway is housing, which vary significantly from single family, to multiple family (apartments, duplexes, townhomes), to mobile homes. The pattern of development is typically medium to high density with some patches of low density found along the riverfront. Commercial uses are typically limited to home occupations. Public facilities like ballfields, picnic areas, or river access are sprinkled throughout. The road along these sections of the Byway can be characterized as a residential collector built for low to moderate capacities. Road widths are typically wider than local roads, but none are wider than 2 lanes. Access may be uncoordinated and excessive in places with a tendency toward multiple curb cuts. Sidewalks are not present in all areas and streetscape elements can be disjointed from house to house. Generally, the viewshed from the Mohawk Towpath Byway is limited to the area identified as the Byway corridor. There are two locations within the Residential Landscape category that have extended visibility. These are: • the view westward from Riverview Road near the intersection with Nott Road within the Town of Clifton Park, and • the view eastward from Fonda Road in the Town of Waterford. The approximate area of visibility of each of these areas is mapped in the appended sheets. The following photographs illustrate the general character of the Residential sections of the Byway (see Sheets 3, 4, 8, 10, and 13): 2-16
  17. 17. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 17. This short section of Residential on the edge of Schenectady represents the higher density, village-like housing 18. The Residential sections of the Byway offer some of the more stunning views from the road, like this one from Riverview Road east of the Hamlet of Rexford in Clifton Park. The distant shore line and ridge lines north (to the right of) the Mohawk River are in the Town of Glenville. 2-17
  18. 18. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 19. Single-family homes with multiple access points and direct views to the river dot this section of Canal Road in Half Moon 20. Along this portion of the Byway in Waterford, the highest concentration of traditional suburban development is found 2-18
  19. 19. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan B. Issues • Driveways and access points can be excessive • Parcels have been subdivided piecemeal in some locations, with a clear lack of unity between adjacent properties • Clear cutting of existing trees and vegetation has undermined the visual quality of some areas and can ultimately impact water quality • Building placement can intrude on views to the river corridor and environs • There is a need to link the relevance of the Residential sections to some of the more scenic or historic sections of the Byway • The need to preserve the two areas of extended views into areas that are beyond the Byway corridor C. Opportunities • Opportunity to help guide appropriate types of development and redevelopment • Driveways can be developed or reconfigured for shared access, improving safety and enhancing the visitor experience • Public spaces like ballfields or picnic areas provide excellent opportunities for interpretative information and to create a connection to the more resource rich areas of the Byway D. Preliminary Recommendations 1. Support street tree plantings and related aesthetic enhancements to the roadsides. 2. Implement additional Byway Trailblazer signs and other elements to promote the Byway and identify the corridor. 3. Coordinate/communicate with local municipalities about connecting existing and future public parks, public spaces to integrate local Byway efforts. 4. Reach out to municipalities included in extended views to establish mutual understanding and concerns for viewshed preservation. 2.2.6 VILLAGE MIXED-USE A. General Description The Village Mixed-Use section of the Byway incorporates residential, retail and commercial uses with walkable streets that provide easy access to services and amenities such as schools, libraries, parks, and shops. The Village Mixed-Use area is typically high density with generally consistent building placement. The built forms run the gamut from historic Greek Revival and Victorian style structures to cement block buildings to modern day contemporary designs. Inclusion and diversity are promoted by incorporating a variety of housing types, which foster a sense of connection that bolsters the health and vitality of the 2-19
  20. 20. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan Byway and its residents. The businesses present in this area typically serve local and regional residents, as well as motorists passing through the Byway. Public parks, river views and historic architecture all add to the overall visual quality of the Village-Mixed Use section of the Byway. The road through this section of the Byway is characterized as an urban arterial or collector with typical speed limits of 20 to 35 mph, signaled intersections, and high volumes. Many residential collector roads feed into this section of the Byway, adding to traffic congestion at times. Sidewalks are present in most areas, but streetscape elements including trees and lighting need enhancement. The following photographs illustrate the general character of the Village Mixed-Use sections of the Byway (see Sheet 12): 21. Waterford Village offers a walkable, pedestrian-friendly atmosphere but would benefit from additional pedestrian amenities and landscape elements 2-20
  21. 21. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 22. Historic residences with wide green lawns create character and contribute to the community atmosphere, while providing diversity to the visual quality of the Byway 23. Sidewalks and street lights coupled with intact, well-cared-for buildings representative of the region’s historic architecture help improve the pedestrian experience and the integrity of this district 2-21
  22. 22. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 24. Canal remnants such as those in Lock 2 Park provide excellent opportunities for Byway visitors to experience the rich history of the corridor 25. Waterford Visitor Center provides an excellent opportunity to display Byway promotional materials and kiosks 2-22
  23. 23. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan B. Issues • No clear definition of the Byway • Public parking areas are not obviously identifiable or are underdeveloped, discouraging people from parking their cars and getting out to walk • Minimal landscaping and lack of other streetscape elements (i.e. benches) discourage walking and detract from the aesthetic appeal of the area • Signs vary greatly in size, material, colors, legibility, illumination, placement, amount, and overall design, ultimately reducing scenic quality • Inappropriate architectural details, building elements, and placement diminish the historic nature of the Byway • Some buildings are vacant or in need of corrective and preventive maintenance C. Opportunities • Vacant buildings/spaces provide opportunities for a possible Byway information center • Opportunity to work with the Byway communities to implement design guidelines that improve the appearance and consistency of the road and streetscape, including lighting, signs and plantings • Waterford Visitor Center offers an immediate location to disseminate information about the Byway to the public • Other public locations like Peebles Island State Park provide information sharing opportunities D. Preliminary Recommendations 1. Implement additional Byway Trailblazer signs and other elements (such as a collaborative banner program) to promote the Byway and identify the corridor. 2. A corridor-wide recommendation for the Byway: a complete wayfinding program that includes information, interpretation and identification elements is another desirable option for the Coalition to consider. Develop a detailed list of features and public destinations along the Byway. Guidance to these destinations and parking should be developed. 3. Encourage and support through ordinance refinement and educational initiatives, as well as through funding, streetscape and architectural improvements and related enhancements, especially those that will directly improve the Byway connectivity and traveler’s experience. 4. Consider innovative means by which to promote local understanding of and participation in the Byway Program. 5. Coordinate Byway improvement and enhancement initiatives with other involved organizations and agencies. 2-23
  24. 24. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 2.2.7 HISTORIC A. General Description The Historic sections of the Byway represent over 300 years of human habitation and embody a variety of architectural elements from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. All eight of the historic districts found along the Byway corridor are on the National Register of Historic Places. Although the architectural styles include an eclectic mix, comprising Federal, Empire, Georgian, Victorian, and Greek Revival to name a few, cohesiveness and harmony are derived from the similar scale of the buildings and consistent building placement. Typically, the Historic sections of the Byway can be characterized as very high density with the exception of the Hamlet of Vischer Ferry, which is more moderate. The road itself varies greatly section-to-section, from local collector to highway. The juxtaposition of these sections of the Byway to the Hudson and Mohawk rivers, as well as the railway, helped to establish this area as a center of business and industry. The exceptionally rich and storied history is still visible in the development that evolved from the burgeoning past, which include residences from mansions to factory workers homes, churches, commercial buildings, industrial buildings, schools, governmental buildings and transportation-related structures. Buildings situated close together on narrow streets, slate and brick sidewalks, pedestrian-scale street lamps, majestic street trees, lush vegetation and green parks are common features found throughout. These architectural and geographical attributes that have stood the test of time help define the community character and contribute to the Byway’s sense of place. While the majority of the present day land use is residential, there are a few commercial businesses such as Rider’s Crossing Tack & Apparel in Vischer Ferry. At Harmony Mills in Cohoes, the largest textile mill complex in the world when it opened in 1872, some of the mills are being converted into residential high-end lofts, which have spurred some commercial development across the street. This section of Byway also boasts one of the most scenic views of Cohoes Falls at the newly opened Falls View Park. The following photographs illustrate the general character of the Historic sections of the Byway (see Sheets 1, 6, 9, 11, and 12): 2-24
  25. 25. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 26. Large street trees in the Stockade District in Schenectady are common features 27. Rider’s Crossing Tack Shop at Hamlet of Vischer Ferry maintains its original beauty and architectural details 2-25
  26. 26. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 28. Many of the homes in Crescent Hamlet in the Town of Halfmoon face the river, because what was once Terminal Road is now under water 29. Once damaged by fire, Harmony Mills in Cohoes is now being restored with highend lofts and maintaining its historic façade 2-26
  27. 27. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 30. Spectacular views of Cohoes Falls are now accessible at the 4-acre Falls View Park B. Issues • Insufficient Byway recognition or interpretive signage • Modern intrusions and development, like power lines or additions to homes, can blemish the historic character of buildings • If older homes are demolished and replaced with dramatically larger, out-of-scale new structures, the historic character of the existing neighborhood and Byway is changed forever • Neighborhood livability and scenic quality are diminished when trees are removed, backyards are eliminated, and sunlight is blocked by towering new structures built up to property lines C. Opportunities • Interpretive panels or kiosks can be added at existing locations like Falls View Park or Crescent Hamlet to include information about the history of the Byway • Historic canal remnants, scenic overlooks, redevelopment/restoration of historic buildings, and access to the river provide excellent opportunities to explain the Byway story • Work with local Byway communities to ensure adequate historic preservation programs, regulations and/or guidelines are implemented and maintained 2-27
  28. 28. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan • Communicate with and engage local residents (e.g. through newsletters, editorials, website, etc.) in the importance of preservation of historic places that help characterize their community and contribute to the scenic quality of the Byway • Explore new locations for pedestrian/bicyclist “pause places” such as the: o Hamlet of Vischer Ferry o End of Ferry Drive D. Preliminary Recommendations 1. Provide supporting data or research to policy decision-makers to steer them in the right direction when historic resources critical to the Byway are threatened. 2. Implement additional Byway Trailblazer signs and other elements (such as a collaborative banner program) to promote the Byway and identify the corridor. 3. Support the efforts of other local agencies and organizations involved in historic preservation to ensure ongoing management and preservation of key Byway assets and resources. Develop inventory of assets/resources in need of protection or management and develop strategy for same. Coordinate with local historians, local historic preservation commissions 4. Create communication and information program based on opportunities as identified, with funding and implementation timeline. 2-28
  29. 29. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan 2.3 OVERVIEW OF SCENIC CONSERVATION INITIATIVES IN THE BYWAY COMMUNITY’S COMPREHENSIVE PLANS The comprehensive plan is the tool municipalities use to set broad goals and objectives for the community, and to guide land use and business activities from agriculture to retail to industry. More importantly, the comprehensive plan is an opportunity to express community vision and values and to provide a tangible representation of what a community wants to look like in the future. The comprehensive plan - as the foundation of the municipal regulatory framework - can play a pivotal role in ensuring the continuing viability of a community’s cultural and historic traditions as well as its valuable environmental and scenic resources. A comprehensive plan clearly stating the extent and importance of open space, rural character, economic development, visual and historic resources and other planning and land use elements that are significant to a town is valuable in its own right, and can be useful in the event of a legal challenge to local land use regulations. The town plan is a guide that helps give direction to local, regional, and state leaders, the business community, and private citizens so that they can make informed decisions about a broad range of issues and create the type of community they envision. It is one of the most important documents a community can develop. While this analysis only examined comprehensive plans, other planning documents are also valuable and relevant and should be considered through the ongoing process. These include open space plans, trail master plans, park plans, waterfront plans and other smaller area plans. Comprehensive plans for the Byway corridor were therefore reviewed and analyzed for content that might help to maintain, guide, and enhance important scenic resources.1 This included eight review areas that specifically impact or influence visual quality: 1) shorelines, 2) historic resources, 3) hillsides/slopes, 4) aesthetics and visual quality, 5) tree cutting and clearing, 6) character of the neighborhood, 7) signs, and, 8) landscape/ streetscape design. A summary of this review is provided in the following table: 1 Review completed in 2009. 2-29
  30. 30. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan SCENIC CONSERVATION ELEMENT ● = Regulates with specific standards and guidelines Aes the His tics Hill tori an Sho sid c d reli es/ res vis nes slo our ual pes ces qu alit y Tre e cut tin g an d cle ari ng Co m mu nit Sig y ns cha rac ter Lan dsc ape / str eet sca pe Town of Clifton Park, Comprehensive Plan, 2006 ■ ● ▲ ▲ ● ■ ▲ ▲ City of Cohoes, Urban Waterfront Rediscovery, Final Plan, April 2005 ■ ■ ▲ ▲ ▲ ■ ● ● Town of Colonie, Comprehensive Plan, 2005 ● ■ ■ ■ ▲ ■ ■ ● Town of Glenville, Town Center Master Plan, 2004 ▲ ▲ ▲ ● ▲ N/A N/A N/A Town of Halfmoon, 2003 ● ● ▲ ■ ■ ■ ■ ● Town of Niskayuna Comprehensive Plan – 2003 ● ▲ ▲ ● ▲ ■ ● ● City of Schenectady, Comprehensive Plan – 2020 ■ ● ▲ ■ ● ■ ● ● Town and Village of Waterford Comprehensive Plan ● ● ■ ■ ▲ ■ ● ■ ■ = Reference with broad goals and objectives ▲ = Does not reference or regulate N/A = Not Available Although many of the towns along the Byway recognize the importance of aesthetics and have some degree of reference to visual quality, as indicated in the table above, most documents would benefit from stronger policies in terms of managing and protecting specific resources. In every plan there are at least one or two “openings” or opportunities in goal or objective statements on which to build, develop, or attach more specific language, procedures, and standards, which would guide sensitive development that eliminates, limits, or mitigates aesthetic impacts. The Coalition should try to work with each town to assist them in refining their existing documents, or to help them introduce applicable new regulations, as appropriate, that would help mitigate potential impacts to 2-30
  31. 31. SECTION 2. INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT Mohawk Towpath Byway: Scenic Action Plan the visual quality of the Byway. Due to the differing levels of support in each community, as well as administrative capabilities, this will vary from town to town. Another critical step for this initiative would be to focus on information, education, and engagement. This includes supporting the dissemination and coordination of information between and among municipalities. A number of methods and steps can be effective in facilitating public involvement and acceptance of the goals and objectives for scenic conservation. This outreach program would lay the groundwork for the implementation of planning and regulatory options for protecting and preserving the aesthetic qualities of the Byway corridor that are so highly valued and at the same time so distinctly threatened. 2-31

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