Stage is part of $2M in improvements at Albany’s Lincoln Park

ALBANY — The city plans to spend $2 million to make improvements in Lincoln Park, including construction of an open-air theater and a pavilion, and the installation of seating and fitness equipment.

The work will be financed in part by nearly $450,000 in state funds secured by Assembly members John McDonald and Patricia Fahy. The rest of the work will be financed from the city’s capital fund through long-term borrowing that will be paid back over time.

At an announcement Tuesday morning, Mayor Kathy Sheehan said the city plans to revitalize playgrounds at Ridgefield, Westland Hills, Mater Christi and Washington Park too.

“These improvements were derived directly from the master plan, meaning that they come from our residents,” Sheehan said.

Sheehan’s proposed operating budget will be released on Thursday, and it comes in a year when the coronavirus pandemic has caused shortfalls in federal aid and a decline in tax revenue.

Over the summer, Sheehan warned that the city faced a $20 million revenue gap this year without a still unreached agreement in Congress on a new round of federal stimulus funds aimed at bailing out municipalities that lost tax revenue and aid during the pandemic.

Cathy Fahey, 7th ward councilmember, said she looks forward to the park’s improvements.

“These are really, really tough times. We’re looking at all kinds of cutbacks,” she said. “But investing in our parks is probably one of the most cost-effective things that we can do.”

She said improving the park is going to help improve the community is this fraught time.

“The safest place to be under COVID is outside,” she said. “It’s not just the safest place to be under covid — it’s the healthiest place, to be outside.”

Sonia Frederick, 1st ward councilmember, said the park belongs to the neighborhood, so she’s glad the community had the opportunity to provide input.

“During the pandemic, people have rediscovered this park,” Frederick said. “I think the benefits are going to spread far and wide.”

Albany could face $20 million shortfall, mayor says

For years, city officials have discussed making improvements to Lincoln Park and its iconic rounded pool, which first opened in 1931.

Last year, the city unveiled a plan to stabilize the pool, which leaked gallons of water a day, as well as add a community theater and gardens, nature and fitness paths, nature-inspired playground equipment, a slide park next to the pool, flower orchards and other native vegetation, and improved access into the park.

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