Assemblyman Santabarbara Announces $600,000 for Safety, Recreational Enhancements at Plotter Kill Preserve in Rotterdam

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara on Thursday announced state funding he secured to provide enhanced safety and recreational improvements at the Plotter Kill Preserve in Rotterdam, a Schenectady County park that has grown in popularity in recent years.

In announcing the $600,000 in state funding, Santabarbara was joined by Schenectady County Legislature Chairman Anthony Jasenski, Schenectady County Sheriff Dominic Dagostino, Plotterkill Fire Chief John Tobiassen, Rotterdam Police Deputy Chief Bill Manikas, and Rotterdam EMS representatives, along with the family and friends of Carly Sinnott, who have become advocates for park improvements following a tragic accident at the preserve site just over a year ago.

“The Plotter Kill Preserve is a cherished natural resource in our local community, offering the unique sights of three beautiful waterfalls and a place to study nature with more than 600 plant species found there to date,” said Assemblyman Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam. “As a lifelong resident of Schenectady County and a student at Schalmont High School, I visited the park often. Ever since, it has grown in popularity, and we are working to preserve the opportunities this unique natural asset offers. With this investment we can now improve access to the Plotter Kill Preserve. The funding will ensure that residents and regional visitors can continue to enjoy this community gem for years to come.”

Just over one year ago, Carly Sinnott, 17, of Clifton Park, was severely injured in a fall while hiking to one of the park's three waterfalls. The injuries were fatal despite rescue crews’ efforts to save her.

"We are grateful for the quick and compassionate response by Schenectady County and Assemblyman Santabarbara's office in securing New York State funding for trail and safety improvements at the Plotter Kill Preserve,” said Carly's parents, Jim and Lynn Sinnott. “While Carly's tragic accident at the Preserve has fueled this effort, these planned improvements are intended for the quiet and safe enjoyment of all who follow. We would especially like to thank all the First Responders who have selflessly dedicated themselves to assisting our community when emergencies arise."

Schenectady County has recently retained the services of trail experts to help develop a series of improvements at the Preserve including:

*The creation of an ADA accessible trail with an overlook of the Upper Falls

The blue trail that leads towards the Kill from the Mariaville Road entrance will be widened, leveled off, and gravel/stone will be placed on the trail to improve drainage and accessibility.

*The installation of viewing platforms

Multiple observation platforms are planned for development including one on the south side of the Kill, providing an outlook of the Upper Falls. This observation platform will be accessible via the ADA trail. The other observation platforms will be constructed to provide viewing accessibility of the Upper, Lower and Rynex Falls.

*Trail enhancements

Improved signage including both directional and safety signage will be placed in the Preserve. A consultant is currently developing a signage plan and suggested language. The installation of anchors along the creek and the steep portions of the Preserve will assist first responders in emergency situations. The trails will be realigned throughout the Preserve with improved access to the base of the falls.

Anthony Jasenski, Chairman of the Schenectady County Legislature, said, “Thank you Assemblyman Santabarbara for this significant grant and support for safety and recreational improvements at the Plotter Kill Preserve. The Plotter Kill is one of our greatest natural assets attracting visitors from around the region, and this grant will allow us to continue to showcase this preserve for the enjoyment of both current and future generations.”

Plotterkill Fire Chief John Tobiassen said, “As chief of the fire department that is often the first to respond to the Plotter Kill Preserve, I’m very appreciative of Assemblyman Santabarbara’s efforts to secure funding to enhance this community resource. Schenectady County’s plans for the park address many of our concerns as first responders by creating a better interface between the public and the natural environment through improved signage and new observation decks. This investment has a special meaning for us because by making the park safer for the public, our responding firefighters will be less exposed to often dangerous rescue situations.”

Schenectady County Sheriff Dominic Dagostino said, “The Plotter Kill Preserve offers unique recreational opportunities to our community. From a public safety standpoint, as the park gains more visitors from across Schenectady County and the entire region, we must do all we can to ensure the safety of residents and visitors who take advantage of this rich natural resource. I would like to thank Assemblyman Santabarbara for securing these funds, which will go a long way toward making the park safer and more sustainable for future generations, and I commend the Schenectady County Legislature for working proactively to make the planned improvements.”

Rotterdam Police Chief James Hamilton said, “The Plotter Kill Preserve is a tremendous recreational asset to the community. As it has grown in popularity, however, the risks posed to visitors have become an even greater concern, and responding to accidents at the preserve has required significant resources. The Rotterdam Police Department is appreciative of Assemblyman Santabarbara’s efforts to secure these funds, which will allow for important safety upgrades to be made at the preserve and help ensure that the public safety of town of Rotterdam residents and visitors who take advantage of this natural resource comes first for years to come.”

The Plotter Kill Nature Preserve is a 632-acre park located in the town of Rotterdam and managed by Schenectady County. The primary features at the Preserve are the waterfalls and the cascades. The Plotter Kill includes the 60-foot-tall “Upper Falls,” the 40-foot-tall “Lower Falls,” and the Rynex Creek Falls, which is also 40 feet tall. Access to all three of these waterfalls is most commonly through the Mariaville Road Trailhead. In addition, there are several smaller cascades on the lower Plotter Kill, making it one of the most unique Preserves in the region.