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"Land Swap" would help plans for Kemble Park

By NICOLE PITT

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Members of the Cornhill Neighborhood Association attended Wednesday night's Common Council meeting in Utica, to talk about the big plans they have to renovate Kemble Park.

It's the site of the former Kemble Elementary School at the intersection of Kemble and James Streets.

Back in 2010, the Cornhill Neighborhood Association was able to postpone the sale of some property to allow for a recreational re-development plan that would serve the community.

The property still belongs to the Utica City School District and the Kemble Park Committee is finding it difficult to secure grant money and other funds because of the ownership.

There is legislation being drafted that would allow for what's called a "land swap" between the City of Utica and the Utica City School District. Basically the School District is interested in some property that currently belongs to the city and in exchange the city would take over rights to the Kemble Park property. No money would be exchanged. If the Kemble Park property belonged to the city funding would be more readily available for the project.

Members of the Kemble Park Committee have met with Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri and are in the process of coming up with an agreement for the "land swap."

Once legislation is drafted it would be presented to the Common Council for a vote. "We're very excited about this project," said Kelly Walters, Kemble Park Committee. "It's something we've been working towards for years."

Plans for Kemble Park include sprucing up the existing basketball courts, adding a hand ball court, a Corn Crib Pavilion, a Butterfly Garden, a MemorIal Garden and much more. The majority of the space would be "green space" with natural surroundings. "It'll be a park for all ages," said Walters.

The project was completed with help from Cornell University Students in conjunction with the Rust to Green project. "This vision is a community vision, we've had community meetings and discussed what we wanted this to look like and this is what we came up with," said Walters.

Total cost of the project is estimated to be upwards of $750,000.

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