New recreation and arts organization takes shape in Amsterdam

Area residents met last night to organize a new non-profit organization, the Amsterdam Recreation and Art Foundation. Ten people met at Marcellino’s Restaurant, in Amsterdam, to discuss their ideas for youth activities and to help other non-profit organizations in the area work together and share resources.

To open the meeting, former fifth ward supervisor Karl Baia explained his motivation for spearheading the effort.

“I’ve always lived in Amsterdam. I was born and grew up here. And you tend to get used to Amsterdam – what it has, and also what it doesn’t have. Then I moved away for a little while to Fishkill, and they have so much more in that area.”

Meeting attendees discussed a variety of different ideas they had for activities for youth, including a “teen scene” night, a field day, a mentor or tutoring program, a “meet your public officials” day, a summer drama production, and a “knowledge bowl” competition.

“In Amsterdam, sports is big, sports is huge,” said Baia. “There’s a lot of emphasis put on sports. But we don’t ever really see any events geared around education.”

Everyone at the meeting agreed that working in cooperation with existing non-profit organizations in the area was a priority.

Melissa Ossenfort Levoy, director of the New York State Children’s Foundation, said her organization will be collaborating with the new Amsterdam Recreation and Art Foundation for their upcoming 5K/Walk for Children event, which will be held on April 30 at Shuttleworth Park.

Building a new facility was also a topic discussion. Some attendees expressed doubt as to whether the city government would be successful with building a recreation center, plans for which were presented by city’s recreation director last year.

“The city really does need a central area, a recreation [center], something like that,” said Baia. “The city’s been talking about it for years and they haven’t gotten it done. They’re proposing something now, maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t. I’m not very positive about it happening.”

“Even if they do it, they are subject to the city budget, they’re subject to union negotiations,” said Baia. “There are barriers to getting this done…through the government. So I’m thinking if they can’t get it done, that we just get it done ourselves.”

Baia said that such a building could include offices for multiple organizations in the area in order facilitate better cooperation and sharing of resources.

At the end of the meeting, attendees elected Baia as director of the organization, his wife Sarah Baia as treasurer and Ossenfort Levoy as secretary. Obtaining federal 501(c)(3) status will be one of the first administrative tasks for the group.

Also attending the meeting were Michael Lacopola, Tom Marcellion, Jennifer Swart, Pam Swart, Leslie Zenon, Susan Baia and Tim Quist. For more information, call 518-441-8249 or email

(Photos by Tim Becker)

Tim Becker

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