Town Board, Rec Center representatives go over needs
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
From A for athletic fields to W for water, recreation-related priorities claimed the attention of the Philipstown Town Board last week.
Briefed by Philipstown Recreation Commission members, the Town Board members devoted their Wednesday, May 22, workshop to projects to focus on in coming months. The board took no action, but agreed with the Recreation Commission members that both parties would look toward making decisions once they know the prices of a couple of big-ticket items and explore the possibilities for funding.
Top concerns brought to the board’s attention by the recreation delegation involved not programs but property.
“Obviously, there are some immediate needs that have been going on for many years infrastructure-wise that need to be addressed,” John Maasik, Recreation Commission chairperson, told the Town Board. As an urgent example, he cited the boiler at the Claudio Marzollo Community Center (also known as the Philipstown Community Center and the Recreation Center).
Overall, “that facility is probably the biggest investment the town has,” Councilor John Van Tassel observed.
Councilor Dave Merandy, who has pursued options for the boiler, reported that with paperwork awaiting sign-off by the town’s attorneys, the town government will soon disseminate a request for proposals.
“Time is of the essence,” Maasik noted.
Other projects featured in the discussion involve athletic fields, the Recreation Center water tower (which requires periodic painting inside and out), the center’s wastewater facility, possible installation of an internal Recreation Center sprinkler system, repairs to the center’s gym floor, and more.
However Amber Stickle, recreation and parks director, expressed reluctance to prepare a wish list and gauge costs without an answer to a policy question. “Is the Town Board really interested in us moving forward with any of these? Where’s the priorities, so we can kind of prioritize where our work is?”
“We’re always interested in doing things. There’s no doubt about that,” Supervisor Richard Shea replied. However given the town’s financial limitations, “it’s ‘are we able to?’ No one is ignoring anything.” He said much hinges on the boiler costs. “We have a grant” for the overhaul. “But it seems we’re probably going to exceed that by a considerable amount.”
Stickle said the grant is for $172,000; the estimates for the boiler overhaul and related repairs total about $233,000.
The Recreation Commission delegates also mentioned the athletic fields, a long-standing concern. “The fields have only gotten worse. And there is some issue with safety,” Maasik said.
“If there are immediate needs for the fields, then they would have to get done. We would somehow come up with the funding for them. There can be concurrent priorities,” Shea responded. “We know we’re going to do the boiler, we know we’re going to do the water tower” and perhaps the field upgrading can be undertaken promptly as well, he explained.
Work on the fields — two at Philipstown Park and two at the Recreation Center — could be handled on a rotating basis, Claudio Marzollo, another Recreation Commission member, suggested. “One out of every four years, each field would be left completely to grow. That would really be a tremendous update. This is all for the future, to be looked at.”
“We should shoot for getting one done” to start, Shea proposed. “It seems we should find a way to do this.”
Stickle did provide a bit of welcome news — that donors may supply enough funds to construct an eagerly sought washroom at Philipstown Park. “We could actually see the building go up and completed by the end of the year. There are some real possibilities coming up” for making it happen, she said.
As the meeting wound down, the Town Board and Recreation Commission members agreed to continue gathering data on the projects envisioned and revisit the situation after the costs of work on the boiler system, water tower, and wastewater plant work become clear, anticipating that some of the hoped-for projects could be funded in a new bonding cycle, after an existing bond obligation expires.