Southampton Village residents looking for a place to take a nightly stroll now have one more option—a new boardwalk being installed along Lake Agawam.
The boardwalk, which is adjacent to the war memorial, will be officially opened to the public Memorial Day weekend, when it will be dedicated to all Southampton Village veterans and active-duty military personnel.
Over the next few weeks, finishing touches like benches and antique lighting will be added to the new boardwalk, which was approved by the Southampton Village Board in October and had been on the back burner for several years.
“It really turned out to be a beautiful project,” Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley said this week. “It really cleaned up that area and added something new to the village.”
The boardwalk, which runs parallel to the war monument from Pond Lane to the parking lot behind Jobs Lane, was first pitched to the village six years ago as a way to camouflage water filtration pumps. Engineering reports indicated that the pumps would not work for the lake, but the idea stuck in the mind of Superintendent of Public Works Gary Goleski ever since.
Last year, he decided to try to move forward, and designed the 12-foot-wide boardwalk. He said his goal was to create a place where people could sit and enjoy beautiful views of Lake Agawam, and that with the launching of the Pyrrhus Concer ferry last summer, he felt it was the perfect time to spruce up the area. After being presented to the Village Trustees, the plan went out to bid, and over the last few months the boardwalk was built by Atlantic Coast Dock.
“I am very happy,” Mr. Goleski said. “Walking on it these last few sunny days really gives me a feel for how much people are going to enjoy it.”
Originally, the village was going to name the boardwalk after Mr. Goleski’s father, Tom Goleski, a veteran who went by the nickname T-Bone. After some discussion, the village decided to take the opportunity to honor all of the local veterans instead. Mr. Epley said there will be eight benches installed at the new veterans boardwalk, each of which will be dedicated to an individual local veteran.
“We have talked about this for a long time, and it is just fitting because it is at the Agawam Memorial Park,” the mayor said. “It has the one memorial fountain that recognizes World War II and Korean veterans, but we don’t really have anything in the park to recognize the men and women who served in other wars like Vietnam and the Gulf War and our current action that we have going on. So the boardwalk is just a great opportunity for us to recognize everybody.”
Mr. Epley said he hopes that the boardwalk will become a popular spot for Southampton Village residents and guests and that he hopes to see people eating lunch and dinner there and relaxing after evening activities like attending outdoor concerts at Agawam Park or having dinner at a village restaurant. Another benefit of the boardwalk is that it connects Pond Lane to the parking lot behind Jobs Lane, making it more handicapped- and jogger-friendly, Mr. Epley said.
Eventually, he would love to see the boardwalk extended to other sides of the lake to make it more accessible. “I would love to see it extended beyond Pond Lane so we can end up with an area that takes the joggers off of the street and still in a beautiful area,” Mr. Epley said. “We have done a lot so far, and that is just another long-term goal.”