Monday, December 11, 2023

New pole barn to aid volunteers who groom Cole’s Woods ski trails

By Mark Frost, Chronicle Editor

The volunteers who groom the City of Glens Falls’s cross-country ski trails in Cole’s Woods should have an easier time of it this winter because their equipment will be stored under a new pole barn largely built by volunteers using donated or discounted materials, services and equipment.

“It looks like a very simple structure. And it is to a certain extent, but, boy, it required a lot of work and a lot of help from a lot of people and a lot of businesses,” said Bill Blood, president of the 100-member strong Friends of Cole’s Woods, at an informal unveiling, Oct. 7.

“One of the big ticket items we’d all always had on the top of our wish list was a pole barn to store our grooming equipment,” Mr. Blood said.

“We’ve always just stored it in this spot [behind the Glens Falls Recreation Center ice rink building] with tarps over it, and that’s great — except that in the middle of the winter, there’s a lot of snow and a lot of ice that builds up.

“And the trail groomers are out at all hours of the night and day, and they’re whacking ice off in really cold temperatures. And it’s not great for the equipment either….

“So we got to work and the first thing we did was to contact Dave Hodgson here, who is a builder extraordinaire, and that had a lot of expertise in all of this. He’s our designer and coordinator of construction. I guess that’s the term we’ll use and away we went.

From left: Volunteer Russell Hilliard, Glens Falls Superintendent of Public Works Tom Girard, Designer & Coordinator of Construction Dave Hodgson; Glens Falls DPW staffers Jim Finnegan and Marc Lambert, National Grid’s Community Relations Manager Tom Iwinski, Mike Rozell of crane-provider Rozell Industries, City of Glens Falls Recreation Director Amy Collins and Bill Blood, president of 100-member strong Friends of Cole’s Woods. Chronicle photo/Mark Frost

“We had to first go to the Recreation Commission to get approval for all of this. And Amy’s [Amy Collins, City of Glens Falls Recreation Director] been a great supporter of Friends of Cole’s Woods through the years — not that she influenced anyone, but it went through.”

“A little more than a year ago,” Mr. Blood said. “We received an email from Lowe’s. We were nominated for one of these hometown hero grants” by which Lowe’s donates “$2,500 worth of materials” — at its cost — plus volunteer labor.

Mr. Blood said Lowe’s ended up exceeding that donation and was amenable as the Friends’ request list would change.
He ticked down a list of numerous other businesses that helped.

“We had to start thinking about taking some trees down. We put that job up for bid and thank goodness High Peaks Tree Removal and Chris Porreca came through with just a very reasonable [deal]. They cut their cost in half for taking down the trees and grinding the stumps.

“And then it was a funny thing, that as soon as High Peaks donated, I would tell the next person in line, ‘well, you know, High Peaks donated that,’ the next one would say ‘we can donate that’ and the next. I just couldn’t believe how easy it was.

“And Glens Falls DPW — Mark Lambert, Jim Finnegan and Mark Jarvis — helped out with some lighting stuff, helped clear the site and provided a lot of expertise; [Superintendent of Public Works] Tom Girard, as well, particularly as we went through the construction process.

“So we had the site cleared, and then we had to start thinking about digging holes in March or April. And all of a sudden, our friend Tom Iwinski, from National Grid, caught wind of this and said, ‘Oh, we can do it pretty quickly.

And [National Grid’s] Bobby [Noone] and Kevin [Long], the Dynamic Duo, dug six holes in what would have taken us probably a couple of days. So by the end of March, beginning of April, we had holes dug.

“And then it started to rain and rain a lot. There was still a lot of snow that was melting off of the mountains. So the water flow through here was pretty crazy.

“And the next thing we needed to do was to get some concrete in the ground. We had actually ordered bags of concrete originally, but we just thought, oh, geez, it’s gonna take a long time to do this.”

He said they inquired into having “a single yard of concrete delivered” and were quoted a price of “about 450 bucks.”

Then, “I called Clemente Bonded and talked to Phil Clemente and told him what we were doing. He says, ‘We can donate that. When do you want it?’ I said, ‘Well, okay, about two days.’ He said it’ll be there. And the driver shows up and (DPW’s) Mark, Mark and Jim, and we were supervising pumping the water out of the holes and Ross Schlinger over at ABC Rentals, he gave us a slurry pump.

“So we pumped it out as fast as we could, put in the concrete and leveled it up and then waited for it to cure.

“And then Mike Rozell (from Rozell Industries) with a crane….Volunteers built the lower structure. The crane lifted the beams onto it. Otherwise we would have needed a bazillion people and people falling over one another and someone eventually getting hurt to get that up there.

“So it was not only a tremendous time saver, but it was the safe way to do it.

“Once we had the beams on top. I think we were good to go because we had built our trusses.”

Mr. Hodgson said, “We found out the estimated costs for buying trusses and having them delivered, and it was really high. And a friend of mine says well, you know we can knock those things together in no time.

“So what we did was we pulled the side by side out of the garage and use the plywood floor. It’s a flat surface and I made a jig. And we just dropped two by fours in and then nailed on the gussets. And pretty soon we had all the trusses we needed and we figured out a way to get them up there.

“And one of the reasons this building is where it is is because of that pine tree, and you’re wondering what the pine tree has got to do with the building? Well, in order to get the trusses off, you got to brace and there was our brace. We screwed two by fours to the pine tree, ran it over to the first truss. Got it all plumbed up and leveled. And then we set the rest of them on that — worked out perfect.”

Mr. Blood credited Lowe’s Jessica Blankinship and Tyler Schenke as “the principals over there. She was the one that ran the Hometown Heroes program, and Tyler was the expert with the materials and getting the stuff delivered.”

He notes that Lowe’s “normally will provide a store’s worth of workers [to] come out and help construct whatever you’re doing,” but the Friends declined it.

“That would have been pretty unwieldy, because we never really needed 50 people here at one time. We and they’d be falling over one another,” Mr. Blood said.

Builder Mr. Hodgson noted, “When we planned the work activities, we planned for about two hours, because you can convince volunteers to come for two hours; you can’t convince them to come all day. So we would work for two hours and then Russell [Hilliard] and I would come over in between, you know finish up details. And then the next work detail was two hours and so there were a number of two hour sessions and it worked and you know, people enjoyed it.”

Mr. Blood said, “It was a great team effort. There were a lot of volunteers. Russell and Dave were here every day working on this thing. It’s just a great example of people getting together and helping one another.”

“It’s a real credit to Glens Falls,” Mr. Blood concluded. “It’s great to live in a community like this. The materials, expertise, the sweat — I couldn’t have done it without you. Hopefully this will be here for a long, long time.”

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