The 9th Annual Toys for Tots Golf Tournament

Is a pavilion in Ancram’s future?

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By DIANE VALDEN

ANCRAM—The idea to build a pavilion somewhere on town-owned property has been kicked around for more than a year without much forward movement.

Now a pavilion plan seems to have gained some traction as evidenced by a “Summary of Pavilion Progress” report read at the April 18 Town Board meeting and another progress report given at the May 11 Ancram Hamlet group meeting. Both reports were compiled by Town Zoning Board Chair Steve Olyha, who is heading up the effort to investigate and research the pavilion project to let the Town Board and residents know about it, so an informed decision can be made about whether to go ahead with it. Mr. Olyha, Town Supervisor Jim MacArthur, and Ancram Summer Camp Director Ruth VanWagner make up an informal Pavilion Committee.

Preliminary drawing of the proposed pavilion. Image contributed

Whether a pavilion can be built at Blass Memorial Field this year in time to be of use to the town’s Kids’ Summer Camp remains to be seen, the Town Board has to decide. If not, the six-week summer camp program, which runs from July 8 to August 16, will continue to rent a tent as it has done in prior years.

A shallow rectangular footprint parallel to the basketball court where the pavilion might be built on Blass Memorial Field has been excavated. “The ground has been prepared, but if the board does not agree to go ahead with building the pavilion, that spot is where the tent will be placed for this year’s Kids’ Summer Camp,” Supervisor MacArthur told The Columbia Paper this week.

Recently, the Town Highway Department worked on replacing a rotten drainage pipe that runs from the Blass Memorial Field entryway on County Route 7 across the width of the field to a ditch near the pool area, Supervisor MacArthur said by phone. That job has been completed.

The size of the pavilion, constructed of wood, would be 30 feet X 60 feet with about one third of it enclosed to provide shelter for camp kids from intense sun or bad weather. Cost estimates for the pavilion range from $55,000 to $100,000, but have not been nailed down yet, according to Mr. MacArthur. One or more local contractors have volunteered to donate the labor to install the slab foundation, leaving the town to pay only for materials, an estimated $16,000 to $20,000.

The initial structure will be simple with no bathrooms or running water. But portable toilets would be brought in “some of which are really pretty nice now,” Mr. Olyha said in an email.

Potential state and federal grant funding for the pavilion project and pool upgrades have been identified and are being investigated. Both Councilpersons Colleen Lutz and Bonnie Hundt mentioned the availability of substantial funding for these projects at the April Town Board meeting.

Mr. Olyha told The Columbia Paper by phone, that while the Summer Camp would certainly make use of the pavilion, that is not its sole purpose.

The structure could be used by the entire community throughout the rest of the year for picnics, parties or concerts and the Ancram Center for the Arts has even expressed an interest in using it as an outdoor venue, said Mr. Olyha.

He envisions the “pavilion as the centerpiece of a Blass Memorial Field revitalization,” which would include a refurbished basketball court—repainted to double as pickleball courts, a baseball field fix-up (for which the Town Board has already allocated money) and swimming pool upgrades.

He said the pavilion would be situated far enough away from the baseball field so as not to impede playing games there. He called the whole shebang “a municipal recreational center.”

Mr. Olyha said he has gone to hamlet meetings and spoken to nearly 100 people about the pavilion idea, “95% of them are wholeheartedly in favor.” He said people are especially interested in tying it to a refurbishment of the pool.

The pavilion will be up for discussion at the next Town Board meeting at Town Hall, Thursday, May 23 at 7 p.m. Those who want their input heard, should attend.

To contact Diane Valden email dvalden@columbiapaper.com.

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