Herman Melville Park is a private pocket park owned by the Lansingburgh Historical Society located along the Hudson River southwest of the intersection of 1st Avenue and 114th Street.

Photo of cabinet maker's or carpenter's shop town down for Herman Melville Park

Photo of cabinet maker’s or carpenter’s shop town down for Herman Melville Park

READY SITE FOR MINI-PARK—The Lansingburgh Historical Society is demolishing the two-story frame structure at 535 1st Ave., directly across from the society’s new home, to make way for the proposed Herman Melville Park along the riverbank. According to Benjamin M. Romp, society president, landscaping will begin in the spring. Title to the long-vacant building was conveyed by the City of Troy to the society with the understanding that the structure would be demolished and a park created by the society.

"EYESORE YIELDS TO PARK-The barn [sic] in the above picture will soon be replaced by a riverfront park, thanks to efforts of the local Historical Society." Lansingburgh Voice. January 1973. [Shop, not barn.]

“EYESORE YIELDS TO PARK-The barn [sic] in the above picture will soon be replaced by a riverfront park, thanks to efforts of the local Historical Society.” Lansingburgh Voice. January 1973. [Shop, not barn.]

The Meeting of the Lansingburgh Historical Society at the Melville House held on Sept 19th 1973 was called to order by President Broderick.  He opened with a report that the authorized installing of new wiring and new meters has been completed and that the park had been leveled and rolled and planted with grass.  A brick walk from 1st Ave. to a circle walk of brick is nearly complete.  In the center it is proposed to plant an oak tree grown from an acorn of the Witenagemot oak planted at the Peace Council of Indians and white settlers in the year 1676 at Schaghticoke.  The Sec'y report of the annual meeting was read and accepted.  The Treasurer's report from May 18th to Sept.16th was read and accepted, and filed with the minutes.  Receipts of the flea market were $150.99.  Mr Corbin reported the need of more people to work on the house and grounds committee.  He suggested the collection of new items for future porch sales to raise money.  Miss Hoffman reported letters of thanks written to donors of historical items to the Society.  Mr Mc Nally, President of the Waterford Historical Society was asked to speak of a Historical Seminar at their house to assist the State to develop an historical area on Van Schaaick island at the spot where batteries were built to guard the ford of the Mohawk in 1777 at the time of the battle of Saratoga.

The Meeting of the Lansingburgh Historical Society at the Melville House held on Sept 19th 1973

Herman Melville Park

Herman Melville Park

Herman Melville Park as seen from yard of Melville House

Herman Melville Park as seen from yard of Melville House

proposed Landscape Design for Melville Park October 1989 by Richard Stott Anderson

proposed Landscape Design for Melville Park October 1989 by Richard Stott Anderson

A 2004 “Lansingburgh Village Master Plan” proposed a radically expanded Melville Park, featuring a “tour boat pier/amphitheater stage; passive recreation – river access; gardens – formal/natural; Melville/Lansingburgh History theme; base for historic tours; interpretation – paper boats, beached whale…” It also proposed “requisition of these parcels (vacant) creates a contiguous shoreline park between 114th & 115th linked to Melville House.

Proposal for Melville Park from 2004 Lansingburgh Village Master Plan. http://www.cdtcmpo.org/images/linkage_program/RenCoFinal/troylansing.pdf

The 2004 plan was not exactly a practical one, as the numbers from the report show:

Herman Melville Park

PRE-DEVELOPMENT
Component Cost
Grant Applications $10,000.00
Permitting $10,000.00
Survey $5,000.00
Archaeology $80,000.00
Subtotal $115,000.00

ACQUISITION
Parcels from Private Owners $300,000.00.
Subtotal $300,000.00

ADMINISTRATION
Grant Administration $5,000.00
Audit $2,000.00
Construction Observation $20,500.00
Construction Administration $22,000.00
Subtotal $49,500.00

DEVELOPMENT
Clearing and Grubbing $10,000.00
Demolish and Remove Building $25,000.00
Prune Existing Trees $5,000.00
Concrete Pier $100,000.00
Amphitheater $250,000.00
Establish Formal Gardens $25,000.00
Ornamental Shrubs $5,000.00
Street Trees (20) $10,000.00
Pedestrian Architectural Lights $50,000.00
Asphalt trail $15,000.00
Picnic Benches $5,000.00
Brick Pavements $10,000.00
Gazebo $80,000.00
Interpretive Kiosk $25,000.00
Signage interp, directional $10,000.00
Shoreline Stabilization $60,000.00
Site Amenities (Benches Trash) $20,000.00
Picnic Barbeque Sites (4) $8,000.00
Screening Fence $10,000.00
Subtotal $738,000.00

Total Project Cost $1,202,500.00
Lansingburgh Village Master Plan. 2004. 78. http://www.cdtcmpo.org/images/linkage_program/RenCoFinal/troylansing.pdf

The 2004 Melville Park total project cost (which was only one of a number of projects in the plan) was roughly equal to the base salary, bonuses, and nontaxable benefits for RPI’s President in 2015 (not including the President’s deferred compensation). It’s unclear where money for all the plans could possibly have been found!

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