Copake prepares request for bigger park building

COPAKE–Forty million dollars is available through the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal for housing or public facilities for special needs groups this year and the town wants some of it.

The Town Board conducted a public hearing and special meeting March 24 to get input, particularly from senior citizens, about what they would like to see the town provide for them in the way of facilities.

Councilwoman Linda Gabaccia and George Filipovits, a Planning Board member and advocate for seniors, are spearheading the application process, collecting data, enlisting the donated services of an architect and other experts to complete the 74-page document, which could result in a grant of up to $400,000. The application has to be submitted by April 23.

The project the town has in mind is an addition to the existing main building at Copake Memorial Park.

Ms. Gabaccia said in a phone interview March 31, “We are looking at doubling the size of the park building.”  The structure would remain 80 long, but its width would expand from 55 feet now to 110 feet.

The space may be primarily designated for the programs and activities of the Roe Jan Young-At-Hearters, a senior citizens’ social group with 142 members from three area towns, which currently rents space at the Hillsdale firehouse. But it could also be used at alternate times by children of working families attending park or after school programs, and the Copake VFW, which has no permanent hall or lodge.

The design of the addition will allow for the use of existing kitchen and bathroom facilities, if possible, and would have a retractable or movable wall that, when opened, would create one huge space that could accommodate hundreds of people.

The project application will be rated based on a point system, Mr. Filipovits said at the meeting, with points given for facilities that will serve poverty-level residents and facilities incorporating “green” technologies–the more points the better. The project has to basically be shovel-ready and able to be completed in two years.

It also has to exhibit “long-term viability.”

“We’re always going to have seniors,” said Mr. Filipovits.

“And you guys are going to live forever,” said Ms. Gabaccia, addressing the seniors present.

The project would also have positive implications for the town’s emergency management plan, because the park building is a designated emergency shelter, but it does not currently have adequate storage capacity for cots and other emergency supplies.

The town’s Park Commission, which sponsors numerous events at building annually, would also get more elbow room for storage of concession stand items and household items provided to those in need through the Copake Community Closet program.

Events such as Santa’s annual visit, which draw overflow crowds, could be accommodated indoors, as well as youngsters attending the town’s summer park program, who need to take shelter from inclement weather.

All will not be lost if the project is not funded this year, because it can be resubmitted in January of next year, said Mr. Filipovits, who speculated that the senior citizens and the park commission “will work perfect together.”

Interested parties were asked to submit information about what they would like to see the project include to Mr. Filipovits or Ms. Gabaccia as soon as possible.

“Let your imagination go wild–we’re going to try to make it happen,” they said.

The Town of Greenport is also seeking funding for a senior citizen center through the same grant program.

In other business at the special meeting, the Town Board agreed to accept a bid from Brad Peck Insurance to provide the town’s insurance coverage.

The board also agreed to keep registration fees for Copake children who attend the summer park program at the same level they were last year–$50/child. The rate for out-of-town youngsters will be $125/child, up from $100 last year.

To contact Diane Valden email .

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