Ancram seeks volunteer workers to build place to play


ANCRAM–Though winter has us in its ice-encrusted death grip, the optimistic folks on the Ancram Youth Commission envision warmer days and working up a sweat.

They contemplate recruiting a bunch of volunteers, rolling up their sleeves, digging, assembling and constructing a playground for Ancram kids.


Youth Commission Member and town Justice Bob Wilcox told the Town Board at its January meeting that the “community build” of the new town playground on the Town Hall property is on for the weekend of April 29-May 1, with the grand opening set for May 4.

The playground project, initially brought before the board in April of last year, called for a fundraising effort totaling $105,000. At that time, the total project cost was pegged at $82,500. The $22,500 difference was to create a maintenance fund and a future sitting area.

The original project timeline called for construction in late September of last year and the opening Columbus Day weekend.

The original fundraising goal was not achieved, according to Mr. Wilcox, but the “generosity of Ancram residents showed through,” with contributions amounting to $46,500, which he said was “enough to allow us to put up a playground that will make a difference.”

The commission, “following the example of good government set by our Town Board” will live within its means, according to a new project summary, and has scaled back the project.

“Additional fundraising will be allocated to future improvements and additions to the new playground,” the summary said.

The project centerpiece is a PlaySense 500 for 5-to-12 year olds. It is a sort of an all-in-one contraption, with steps and ladders to climb on, bars to swing from, holes to peer through, tunnels to crawl in, a maze to explore and slides to glide down.

Younger kids will have a pint-sized version of the apparatus, and swings are also part of the playground project. Some smaller pieces of equipment and the sitting area were scrapped for now.

Parkitects, Inc. of Lansing in Tompkins County is supplying the equipment as well as supervising the installation, which will be completed by up to 50 community volunteers over about 3 days.

The project requires many steps: staking out the area, drilling holes, sorting parts, setting swings, installing a play area, pouring concrete and installing the playground surface.

Excavating will be done by the town highway crew.

The new total budget is about $48,000 for the playground equipment, surfacing materials, Parkitect’s supervision, site preparation, including 223 bags of Ready-Mix concrete and 52 tons of #1 crushed stone, tool rentals and food and refreshments to sustain the volunteers.

In its recruitment pitch, the commission asks potential volunteers: “Imagine 40 grown-up kids with a giant erector set. If you can use a shovel or a rake or a ratchet… you can do it!”

In other business at the January meeting:

*Justice Wilcox and Court Clerk Ruth Wittlinger delivered the annual court report for 2010. The number of cases dealt with by the Town Court was up slightly from 378 to 389; while revenues were down by 17.6% from $35,562 in 2009 to $29,290 in 2010. Justice Wilcox noted that court expenses came in $4,350 under budget last year, but there is no reason to assume that will happen every year because “one jury trial could eat up that amount, and it’s a citizen’s right to demand it.”

*Councilman John MacArthur reported that the town took the Central Hudson Gas and Electric Company up on its offer to inspect light fixtures in municipal buildings and replace those that are not efficient. Mr. MacArthur said the utility company will replace 30 old, energy-sucking fixtures in the firehouse for an electrical cost savings of $1,462/year. He said the new lights will be 97% more efficient, using only 49 watts apiece as compared to the 188 watts used by the old ones.

He said the Town Hall already has the most efficient fixtures and he assumed that because the highway garage is new and improved that it did also. He later found out, much to his chagrin, that his brother, Highway Superintendent James MacArthur, in an effort to save some money had five used light fixtures installed at the garage instead of buying new ones. Councilman MacArthur recommended that the town try to get the fixtures replaced through the Central Hudson program, and if that doesn’t work, pay the $500 it will cost to replace them with new energy-efficient models.

To contact Diane Valden email

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