SIMMONS ISLAND: A RIVERFRONT COHOES COMMUNITY

FRANCES INGRAHAM Staff writer
Section: AT HOME,  Page: F1

Date: Sunday, October 6, 1996

Simmons Island is one of two islands in the city of Cohoes. The larger is Van Schaick Island, which is located to the east of the city of Cohoes, with Simmons Island in the middle. Comprising only seven streets, including the main thoroughfare of Ontario Street (Route 470), Simmons Island is distinguished by the Golden Krust Bakery and Restaurant and St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church and less than 15 houses, which are situated on only a couple of the streets.


``We had school up till about seven years ago,'' said Father Richard Dybas of St. Michael's Church, which was built in 1902. ``Like many schools in the area, it closed because of a lack of students, from families moving out to the suburbs. But the parishes in the area continue to flourish for church services. At one time everybody was within walking distance to the more than five churches around here, but now they drive, as they live farther away.''


The former St. Michael's School across the parking lot from the church is now leased to the Cohoes Public School system for its administrative offices. In addition, there is a do-it-yourself moving truck and trailer rental company, medical professional building and the Ukrainian Club featuring a picnic and recreation area at the south end of the island, overlooking the Mohawk River.





At the north end of the island, there is a public fishing site that was established by the Adirondack Hydro Plant in Waterford, as part of its licensing requirements, according to Charles Valenti, director of the Cohoes Department of Community Development.


Single-family frame dwellings and multifamily structures are situated along the streets on various-sized lots. Those along the exterior streets have views of the river.


In the late 1800s a dike was built across the sprout of the river, on the city side to Simmons (formerly called DeMilt's) Island. The dike was constructed to relieve the wheel of the D. Simmons & Co (manufacturer of axes and edge tools) from backwater and to create a view to open the island to the public.


In turn, the access made the island lots eagerly sought after, as well as increasing the value of the water lots. At this time, much of the land opposite each side of Simmons Island consisted of working farms.


The 160-foot-long, 12-foot-wide bridge that carries Ontario Street over the west branch of the Mohawk River to Simmons Island is commonly referred to as the Golden Krust Bridge because the bakery and restaurant are the first things you see as you enter onto the island. The current bridge was built in 1994, replacing an expansion bridge built in 1936.


Simmons Island, which was originally called Page Island, is bounded by Cohoes to the west, Van Schaick Island to the east, the Mohawk River, which circles around the island to the south and into the Hudson River, Goat Island and Peebles Island State Park to the north.


POPULATION: As of the 1990 census, the population of Cohoes was approximately 16,825.


POLITICS: The common council is Democratic.


TAXES: Residents pay a rate of $2.23 per $1,000 of the assessed value for city, $55.78 per $1,000 for county and $3.28 per $1,000 for school.


SCHOOLS: Children attend Van Schaick Elementary School for grades K-5, Cohoes Middle School for grades 6-8 and Cohoes High School for grades 9-12.


HOUSING: Approximately $65,000 to $100,000.


EMERGENCY SERVICES: City police, fire and Troy and Albany hospitals.