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Grant will fund Vischer Ferry gateway

Clifton Park’s $5k award part of Greater Towpath Connector Project

— Clifton Park’s Vischer Ferry Preserve is a 600-acre wildlife area with abundant natural resources. It is considered a gateway to the Mohawk Towpath Trail and includes views of the Mohawk River. Hikers and bird watchers set into the preserve out to view wildlife ranging from ducks to turtles and even great blue herons.

It is also home to history. A segment of the original 1825 Erie Canal and Towpath, a segment of the 1842 Enlarged Erie Canal and the current state Barge Canal are accessible within the preserve. The entrance to the preserve includes a restored 1862 Whipple Truss Bridge, a design used widely to bridge the canal during the latter half of the 19th century. The bridge was destroyed several years ago, but plans have been underway to replace it, and also to develop a plan to reconnect Halfmoon to Clifton Park by way of the historic preserve.

That mission is progressing along with the recent award of a grant. The Town of Clifton Park has received a $5,000 matching Greenway Communities Grant for design resources to create a gateway as part of the new public access project planned for Ferry Drive. The grant was obtained through the 2012 Greenway Council Community Grant Program.

This is a smaller part of a larger Greater Towpath Connector Project, according to Jennifer Viggiani, Clifton Park’s open space coordinator.

“This grant money will help us with funds for design to create the improved trail that will provide a sense of accomplishment and achieve the view that people will enjoy,” she said.

Mark Castiglione, acting executive director of the Hudson River Valley Greenway, said his group is looking forward to doing work in the preserve.

“Greenway was created to be a partner with communities and organizations. This project is an example of that partnership. It’s a great project,” he said.

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