$3 million to go toward new Franklin County Recreation Center
MALONE — The speaker of the state Assembly made a stop in Malone on Monday and announced $3 million in funding for a new Franklin County Recreational Center. The project is in the preliminary stages.
Speaker of the Assembly Carl E. Heastie, D-Bronx, joined Assemblyman D. Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay Lake, county, town, and village officials, to tour the Malone Rec Park and discuss funding for the new building in Malone.
Heastie’s visit Monday afternoon was part of a statewide tour and he announced the new indoor sports facility and the $3 million in combined funding from the Assembly Majority to help get the project off the ground.
The new center will be a public-private partnership between state, county and local resources including Adirondack for Kids and other interested organizations to help fill a need in the North Country for more recreational facilities for all four seasons.
The new Franklin County Recreational Center will provide indoor space for youth sports and community events.
“Open spaces and safe places for our kids is something, I think, is something we have tried to invest more in all around the state, improving our parks. I think this is an absolutely wonderful project and it is something that people should be able to use all year round,” Heastie said, “We don’t want this to be a three season (endeavor), we want it to be four seasons so families can have access to it every single day of the year. Just let kids be kids, they’ll have plenty of time to be adults, let them be kids and enjoy this beautiful place.”
According to Heastie, projects like the recreation center are what the legislature’s discretionary funding is designed for.
“I always say local legislators know their districts the best and that’s why it is good for us to have this discretionary money so that communities can designated or nominate a project that is worthwhile,” Heastie said, “I couldn’t think of anything more worthwhile than doing something that puts smiles on kids’ faces and allows them to explore their inner child. We do a lot of speaking to young people and I think sometimes we need to listen to them as well, I think this is going to be a phenomenal addition.”
Although the project is in its preliminary stages, one potential location for the rec center is off of West Main Street in the town.
“I think it is pending further county, village and town discussion,” Mayor Andrea M. Dumas said, “There’s going to have to be a lot of work with everybody, I think it is an amazing opportunity, but we have a lot of work to do ahead of us.”
County Manager Donna J. Kissane said the area off Route 11 is a potential site of the new rec center.
“That’s a possibility, there’s nothing that is confirmed, somebody has stepped forward indicating they might donate a piece of property but it is very preliminary,” Kissane said, “It’s coming to the county because I believe that when you get funding you have to spend and get it back, it’s a reimbursement grant. I think the county is in a position to be able to do that. We are very excited about this opportunity.”
According to Jones, the funding is an opportunity to build off of current recreational opportunities in Malone.
“We are going to do an indoor facility it’s going to be operational four seasons. We are putting up $3 million for that today,” Jones said, “We have Adirondack for Kids here as well who is committed to putting significant finances behind it. We are going to get other community organizations, the county as well will be the placeholder of this and I think it is going to be great for this area, I really do.”
Adirondack for Kids is a nonprofit organization that works to support the area’s youth.
Jones said the new facility will not only benefit the village and town of Malone but Franklin County and other areas of the North Country.
“There’s a lot going on here in this community,” Jones said, “We want to kind of bring it all together for residents of the county as well, and as the speaker keeps asking: ‘What do you do in the middle of winter here?’ What do we do? We have a great mountain, thanks to Titus, but a lot of times kids and families want to have recreation opportunities in a building.”
In addition to the $3 million of funding to go toward the rec center, $100,000 will go toward a rec park building, currently nearing competition, with the funds dedicated towards providing the structure with indoor heating.
Jones previously secured $500,000 for renovations of a building, nearing completion in the current rec park, creating an art, cultural and athletic space for the community.
Jones also helped the Malone Civic Center secure $500,000 for renovations and upgrades for the community ice arena.
“I think it is important to show people what we are doing here as municipalities and non-profits come together we can build beautiful buildings like this, put in pools, have great walking trails and I think it says a lot for our community,” Jones said, “It’s all for giving kids opportunities and families opportunities. Let’s face it, this isn’t just for kids it’s for families and adults.”
Jennifer Hathaway, director of the Malone Rec Park, led Heastie on a tour of the rec park building and the park itself, updating the assembly’s leader on the park’s work to add a pool and splash pad, in addition to programming offered to students during the summer months and in the school year.
Hathaway said it has been great to see the rec park grow over the past few years.
Each state budget includes capital funds that can go towards community projects, according to Heastie, who said if there are other projects that Jones and the community feels are important they will be considered for future funding.
“Being from the great borough of the Bronx, where I actually represent and call home, I tell people I’ll be honest if not for becoming speaker of the assembly there are some beautiful parts of this state I probably would never have seen or wouldn’t have seen to this point,” Heastie said. “Just even the drive up here from Albany this morning just looking at how beautiful this state is, it’s a beautiful state with beautiful people.”