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Johnsburg town board moves forward with Ski Bowl Park grant

— The Johnsburg Town Board on Tuesday, May 1 adopted a strategy to accomplish a grant-funded project at Ski Bowl Park that will include a new playground featuring a climbing boulder and a multi-use hike-and-bike path designed by local trail-blazing legend Steve Ovitt.

But arriving at a decision regarding the direction of the project proved to be difficult.

Five years ago, the state awarded the town a parks and recreation matching grant that would allow the town to make more than $100,000 worth of improvements to Ski Bowl Park. The state would kick in half and the town would kick in the other half. The town’s portion could be cash, materials, and/or labor, be it paid or volunteer. At the time, the town envisioned, among other things, a skateboard park, a volunteer-built wooden playground apparatus and renovations to the town beach.

A lot has happened in the intervening years, not the least of which was an economic recession that still has many municipalities feeling its impact, including Johnsburg. Without funding to pay for the town’s portion, and with the grant being such that the town had to front the entire cost and then be reimbursed, the town hasn’t been in a position to accomplish much on the project.

The town has until November to either finish the project, get an extension to finish the project in future years, or, absent either of those options, the town could forfeit the grant. In order to grant an extension, the state wants to see “substantial progress” on the project, project coordinator Kelly Nessle said.

Compounding the situation, the plan has gone through an evolution of sorts since it was first conceived. And the state must approve changes to the original proposal. Skateboard parks are no longer in vogue. And the prospect of marshaling a sufficient number of volunteers to build a wooden playground apparatus loomed as a daunting task, Nessle said.

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