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Plattsburgh will name arts park for Sen. Betty Little

State Sen. Betty Little speaks at a retirement party for her Jan 23 at the Hotel Saranac in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

PLATTSBURGH — State Sen. Betty Little will retire at the end of this year, but her legacy will live on in the Lake City.

The Plattsburgh City Common Council unanimously OK’d a resolution Thursday night to name its future arts park, which will sit on Margaret Street across from the Durkee Street parking lot, the “Betty Little Arts Park.”

“I certainly had no expectations of having anything dedicated in my honor,” Little, R-Queensbury, told the Press-Republican. “It’s very, very humbling to me.

“I’m grateful for their thoughtfulness.”

The project fell under the streetscape improvement portion of the city of Plattsburgh’s state funded Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

Commonly referred to as the “Arts Park,” it would use those grant monies to transform a small area of green space into a three-tier park with a walkway that, working in coordination with the developers of the Durkee Street parking lot, would connect to a pedestrian walkway there and, eventually, to a walking path on the city’s riverfront.

Advocate for the arts

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Landscape architect Saratoga Associates was tasked with making plans for both the park and the riverfront walking path.

In early March, the firm presented its most recent ideas for the park’s tiers, including an outdoor seating area, a splash pad/water feature and a sculpture garden of local artwork.

The city has said the project would fit into its arts corridor, anchored by the Strand Center of the Arts on Brinkerhoff Street.

Little has held her seat representing the 45th Senate District since being first elected in 2002. The senator announced her retirement in early 2020, to go into effect at end of this year.

Little told the Press-Republican that, much like her hometown of Glens Falls, she has long recognized the city of Plattsburgh’s importance to the North Country region.

“So many things and facilities are in the city that everyone uses,” she said. “Where I could help and when I could help — I’ve been more than happy to do anything I could to help the city improve and move it forward as it has.”

“Remember her legacy”

During her time as chair of the Senate Tourism Committee, Little said she had advocated for the arts and remembered efforts to reestablish the Strand in downtown Plattsburgh.

“So many people worked so hard to bring that project to fruition to be the wonderful, wonderful theater that it is and restore all of the beauty that it had,” she said.

Plattsburgh city Mayor Colin Read said there had been no other legislator who had done so much for so long for the Lake City as Little had.

“The generosity of her time, her ability to cut through the politics of issues and her vast experience and seniority in the state Senate shall be remembered for a long time,” Read said.

“I hope that as we develop the green arts trail from the Strand Center for the Arts to the proposed river walk between the Kennedy and Veterans bridges, we will remember her legacy to our city.”

About the people

Little thought an arts park was a “wonderful way” to be remembered, but hoped more than anything that it was a place that the community could enjoy.

“It’s really not about me,” she said. “It’s about the people and having them enjoy this walk and the Strand in the city of Plattsburgh.”

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