Friday, September 4, 2009

Frederck T. Proctor Park in East Utica

There's a green belt in Utica, New York which starts at Bleecker Street and Culver Avenue and continues to Oneida Street and the Memorial Parkway. One piece of this green belt is the Frederick T Proctor Park at Rutger Street and Culver Avenue.
Here are 50 acres of God's paradise. It has been referred to as the "NEW" proctor park to contrast with the park to the south -- the Thmas R Proctor Park which was known as the "OLD" park. The FT Proctor Park. No park in Utica has been more popular for picnics than the FT Proctor Park. And most recently, the City of Utica Council passed legislation to exclude all vehicular traffic so as to provide a safe haven for the vast numbers of walkers in the morning, afternoon and evening. The park closes its doors at 9:00 PM. In my research of the Park, I find there was a caretaker's cottage where a husband and wife, Mr and Mrs David Williams, resided in the cottage; they took great pride to keep the Frederick T. Proctor Park in the best condition. They also attended to the beautiful shade trees of which there were more then in the early 1900's than today and caring for the velvety lawns on the higher level. The lower level was a babbling brook with lovely looking swans.
I have marvelous memories of the FT Proctor Park. My parents and my sister and I visited this place often in the summer. When in grammar school, I joined Troop 47 of the Boy Scouts of America. My friends and I, and our Scoutmaster, enjoyd an overnight stay. We pitched our tents on the corner of Redfield and Ludlow Streets.
A newspaper photographer visited and snapped my photo standing in front of the tent.
When my mother was alive, during the hot days of summer, I would drive to the Park, take two lawn chairs from my auto, find a comfortable, shady spot under a tree and we would discuss the current events of the day in Italian. I was so pleasantly surprised at the absence of traffic noise from Culver Avenue.
I have met persons from all over the area who converge on the FT Proctor Park for their daily stroll. As in days of old, the FT Proctor Park attracts hundreds a people each day. And more recently, the Central New York Conservancy has been instrumental in having placed Utica's ark System on the Federal Register of Historic Places. The members also created a Butterfly Sanctuary on the lower level.
The Frederick T. Proctor Park at Rutger Street and Culver Avenue was deeded to the City of Utica in 1923. The Utica Common Council received a deed to the property on August 21, 1923. Mr and Mrs David Williams were allowed to live in the cottage until January 1, 1924 with expenses paid by the Proctor family.

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