Celebrate Earth Day at Utica’s Beautiful Parks

April 20, 2021

Utica Parks

Image courtesy CNY Conservancy

On Thursday April 22, 2021 the world celebrates the 51st annual Earth Day. The first Earth Day was in 1970 sparked by a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. This was a time when the environment was slowly gaining national attention. People started to see the devastation of air and water pollution.

This year the focus is on climate change. “The World Turns to Climate Action” is the headline on www.earthday.org. And the Biden Administration is holding a global climate summit on Earth Day.

Speaking of a changing climate. We found a fascinating project that will launch this Earth Day. It’s on Google Earth, an amazing website that calls itself, “The world’s most detailed globe.”

On April 22, 2021, Google will launch “Timelapse,” a 3D feature that shows how the Earth has changed from 1984 to 2020. Needless to say, the reality of climate change happening before our eyes is devastating.

All of this reminded us of the Mohawk Valley’s love of the great outdoors. Most of us welcome spring, summer, fall, and winter, mainly for the recreational opportunities each offers.

There’s plenty to do with lots of golf courses, skiing, hiking and biking. And the beloved Adirondacks is just an hour’s drive away. Getting back to nature is easy for us here in the Utica area and we do appreciate it.

So we thought Earth Day would be a good time to spotlight Utica’s vast, lush parklands. And its benefactor, the Central New York Nature Conservancy. Since its founding in 2002 CNY Nature Conservancy has promoted “healthy, sustainable, public green spaces.”

The Utica park system is big. Believe it or not, it’s close to 70% the size of Central Park in New York City! Even better, it’s designed by the leading landscape architect of the early 20th century, Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr.

It includes F. T. Proctor Park, T. R. Proctor Park, Roscoe Conkling Park, and the Memorial Parkway. These total 565 acres of open grass fields, woods, stairs made of stone, statues, and playing fields. And of course, the Robert Trent Jones designed 18-hole Valley View Golf Course.

So let’s review natural escapes that you can enjoy during our beautiful spring weather this year.

Frederick T. Proctor Park
This 62 acres is considered the “crown jewel” of Utica’s park system. On the corner of Culver Avenue and Rutger Street, it features the Grand Entrance to an expansive grass field (the Grand Lawn) surrounded by an asphalt walking-path. Also a ravine, lower meadow, and upper field.

You can enter the woods down stone stairways or picnic next to the Lily Pond. In the summer you’ll catch kids swimming in the Starch Factory Creek flowing through the lower park.

Thomas R. Proctor Park
On Culver Avenue and Welsh Bush Road. Here are the athletic fields and Buckley Pool. Most recently you’ll find the addition of the Sal Longo Field. It’s an artificial turf football, soccer, lacrosse, and rugby field built with a $1,000,000 donation from the owner of Utica’s Northern Safety.

Roscoe Conkling Park
For area golfers, Valley View Golf Course is a true test of golf with breathtaking views. There’s also the South Woods and Switchbacks, the entrance to the Utica Zoo, and Parkway Recreation Center. And the view from the Eagle Monument on top of the hill is spectacular.

Memorial Parkway
These three parks are all off the four-mile-long Memorial Parkway. The Parkway is home to 14 monuments. They honor famous Uticans, historic figures, service organizations, and the wars Uticans fought. And when you drive the Parkway, you’ll experience a beautiful display of landscaped beds of annuals and perennials.

The Conservancy is directed by Utica native Dr. Philip Bean, a former dean at Harvard and Haverford. We suggest you check out the website (see link above) this Earth Day and see for yourself what Utica’s parks have to offer. There’s even an app you can download to get all the info you need to fully enjoy your park experience.

And if you can, help the Conservancy continue its work cleaning, maintaining, and rebuilding the parks with a donation. And as experienced every season here in the Mohawk Valley, relaxing, natural fun is right around the corner!

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

SZW Insurance is your Utica area Trusted Choice™ independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here. In Westchester County call Zak Scalzo at 914.246.0315 or email at zaks@szwinsurance.com.