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Chatham won’t spoil its kids this summer


CHATHAM – Even in the dead of winter the Chatham Town Board is thinking about summer, specifically the town summer program at Crellin Park and the lack of shelter and bathrooms for the students who will attend. This year another 140 kids from the Town of Kinderhook will be coming for swimming lessons and free swim in the afternoon.

The board held a workshop meeting Thursday, February 6 to talk about the plan for another temporary solution this year before the board borrows money to build a new pavilion and bathrooms at the beach for the 2015 season.

The old structure was torn down last spring. During the summer the recreation program used a second pavilion further away from the pond for changing and the snack bar. There were portable toilets at the beach but no structure to provide shelter.

The board has $125,000 set aside for a new building, but Deputy Clerk and Recreation Director Sheri Franks said that it could cost more than that for even a simple building with bathrooms that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“I don’t think you can build a building for under $200,000,” said board member Bob Balcom. “If we have to borrow a little bit, we borrow,” he continued.

Ms. Franks said that the rates she’s seen for a wooden building range from $44,000 to $180,000, but she’s also looked at a metal building from a company like Morton Buildings, which has designs available and provides materials. Ms. Franks said she liked the idea of the Morton Building that could be basic to start with but which the town could add to in the future.

What she was concerned about was having to money from the budget pay an architect $8-to-$10,000 for plans before finding out what the construction costs would be. “I was told we needed an engineer or an architect,” she told the board.

When board member Henry Swartz said that he didn’t think they needed to spend the money on that extra step, Ms. Franks said, “Talk to Walt about that,” referring to Walt Simonsmeier, the town building inspector and code enforcement officer.

“We are going to have to move forward,” said Mr. Swartz of having the building replaced, though he stressed there is not enough money in the budget to do it this year. As the board proceeds to plan for a new building officials also need to find solutions for this summer.

“We weathered it last summer, we have to weather it again,” said Mr. Swartz.

“We need to look at something better than the port-a-potties,” said Board member Jean Rohde.

Ms. Franks said the children found shade beneath trees last year but she worried about having more 90-degree and hotter days again this summer.

Ms. Franks said she would research tents and trailers, though she warned the board members that the could be prohibitive. Town Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt said he would talk to Kinderhook Town Supervisor Pat Grattan to see if Kinderhook had any way to help now that their recreation program will use the pond.

Also at the meeting, Village of Chatham Mayor Tom Curran and Village Administrator Barbara Henry reported on the Tracy Memorial Village Hall. Mayor Curran said the village is moving forward with plans to repair the fire escape on the building. Mr. Curran said the town can install the new security doors on the offices adjacent to the upstairs courtroom and the security cameras when they equipment arrives.

The new lease for the town to rent the courtroom at the Tracy Memorial is currently being worked out between the town and village attorneys. “It’s going to be good for our businesses if it’s a good, solid agreement,” said the mayor.

The town has been using the courtroom for several years but has not had a lease with the village. Instead, the town has made lease payments to the Tracy Memorial Fund, which has maintained the century-old building for decades. The last lease the town had with the Tracy fund expired in 2006. The Village Board, which owns the building, has now taken over all leases for the building and has some money in a building reserve for maintenance.

The next Town Board meeting will be Thursday, February 20 at 7 p.m. at Chatham Town Hall.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email


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