Local organizations discuss new recreation center ideas

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Rec-Center1

Representatives of several local organizations including the YMCA, Wishful Thinking, and the Shuttleworth Park Foundation, attended last night’s Recreation Commission meeting to discuss ideas for building a new recreation center in the Amsterdam area.

“We’re all working together for the betterment of the community,” said Recreation Director Rob Spagnola.

Currently, the Recreation Department runs several programs such as recreation basketball in coordination with Wishful Thinking at the Bacon School campus. However, how long the department will have access to the building is in question, as the Greater Amsterdam School District board has expressed an interest in using the building for their own administrative offices.

A number of ideas about the design, funding and location of the proposed project were discussed by those in attendance at the meeting. Spagnola stressed that this was just the first of many meetings that would be required to hammer out the details of the project.

Initial ideas for the design of the building included: an artificial turf field for playing indoor soccer, baseball, or lacrosse, 2-4 basketball courts, a work out room/studio, an indoor track, a resource/community room for after-school programs, a game room (with no video games), batting cages, a concession area, as well as bathrooms, locker rooms and an office.

A variety of different funding ideas were discussed. The various organizations in attendance expressed possible interest in collaborating to fund the project. John Sumpter, co founder of Wishful Thinking, suggested a billboard with a “thermometer” to indicate fund raising progress as a way to generate awareness. 1St Ward Alderman Ed Russo said he would look into discussing funding with AIDA.

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The pros and cons of many different possible locations were discussed. Recreation Commission member Charles Beekman stated he thought that the building should be located in a central location within the city. Members involved with Wishful Thinking agreed that accessibility from the various neighborhoods in Amsterdam was important.

Sumpter pointed out the potential for the recreation center to be part of Amsterdam’s wider downtown revitalization efforts if it were sited in the same vicinity. He said the project could have the potential to “put Amsterdam back on the map as far as where people go in the Capital District.”

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.