Lake and Project History
In January 2012, Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy took office as the first new County Executive since 1995. He identified a number of major priorities for his administration even before taking office, including enhancing veterans’ services and making fiscally responsible decisions for the residents of our county. Another focus involved a little-known Albany County resource called Lawson Lake County Park. This park was used for many years by the organization Camp Opportunities which ultimately became the Boys and Girls Club. Unfortunately, due to transportation and maintenance cost increases, it became impossible for the Boys and Girls Club to utilize the park for its summer activities and the camp was abandoned and fell into disrepair.
When County Executive McCoy found out this “jewel” had lost much of its sparkle, he immediately looked for ways to reopen the site so everyone could enjoy it. The first step was to confirm with the proper authorities that a dual-use of the property as a public resource to be utilized by not-for-profit entities was legally permissible. Once that was confirmed, it was essential that a detailed examination of the property be conducted to determine where work was needed and how it should be done. It became apparent very quickly that this project would be a multi-year effort and assistance and partnerships would be the best way to get the job done. With that in mind, County Executive McCoy turned to two key county partners, Albany County District Attorney David Soares and Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, Sr. Both the Sheriff and the DA agreed that Albany County kids and the public could and should reap the positive benefits from enjoying Lawson Lake Park.
Additionally, the partnership would allow for more resources to help in the remediation effort. Now that there was a support system in place, cleanup of the lower half of the park, closest to the lake, was the first goal. This effort was predominantly characterized by the removal of significant accumulated debris inside and outside of buildings. Trash was removed, roofs were swept and yard waste was hauled away. There was also considerable repair work necessary where trespassers and vandals had caused damage. All of these efforts were completed through the combined resources of the County Executive, County Sheriff and the DA, along with the volunteer efforts of many organizations.
Time was of the essence as another summer camp season quickly approached. It took a lot of hard work to reach the goal. Not only did the Boys and Girls Club offer day camps, but both St. Catherine’s Center for Children and The Pride Center of the Capital Region were able to utilize the park. There was great success with phase one, but there is still so much more that needs to be done. The next steps include further renovations to the lower camp, upper camp remediation and the initiation of a long-term development plan.
Creative resource management and partnerships like these will be required in order to make Lawson Lake County Park the resource that it should be for Albany County and the entire Capital Region.