COLLINS - Community members, parents and staff of the town recreation program showed up in numbers to the recent board meeting. The town board would like to move around groups in the L.K. Painter Center to accommodate more space for the senior citizens.
The proposed changes came as a recommendation from the building committee has been coming up with reuse plans for various town buildings working to try to improve the town.
"The building committee has been very active and I commend them for the work they have done," Supervisor Dave Tessmer said. "As part of that plan, we have looked at all of the buildings and how we use those buildings."
OBSERVER Photos by Samantha McDonnell
The L.K. Painter Center in Collins was the center of discussion at a recent board meeting. The town board had a motion on the table to reuse the center. The motion was later tabled.
The plan for the reuse of the L.K. Painter Center includes the first floor or gymnasium level, moving the senior citizens to additional space, including the current room, and moving them into the morning enrichment space.
The second floor will reuse the existing lounge for the Veterans' Association. The existing game room would become morning enrichment and the community room would be available for rental for outside groups. The north east and north west part of the building is where the recreation department would be moved. Current recreation space is on the first floor, sharing space with the senior citizens.
Recreation Committee Chairman Scott Williams and Recreation Director Jeff Johnson spoke out at the meeting concerning the move of the recreation department. Williams said the building committee had only came to the recreation committee this year and this was the first time they were hearing about the reorganization.
"We feel as the recreation committee ... that it is probably the worse part of the building (where recreation is suggested to move to)," Williams said. "The new part of the building is the back part of the building where we are at now."
Williams said the new part is easily accessible and addressed some safety concerns he had regarding the upstairs of the building.
"We can certainly see there will be some safety issues in regards to having the program upstairs with having 80 children at a time running up and down the stairs in a controlled environment for the winter program. For the summer program obviously a lot of issues in regards to staffing," Williams said.
Williams said moving upstairs will restrict handicap accessibility to some of the recreation program participants who cannot go up the stairs. There is a chair lift but in order to transport a child, a certification is required. In addition to safety concerns, Williams brought up space. The current space is about 2,500 feet downstairs. In the move, the recreation program will lose at least 300 square feet by moving upstairs.
Johnson expressed his concerns regarding safety, as well as many other parents did.
"It's a bigger safety issue than you will ever know," Johnson said. "We're there for these kids the whole time."
Johnson explained he has staff members watching kids from the time they leave the car until the time the kids are signed in to the different various rooms. Johnson also said by moving the children upstairs, they would have to go up 18 stairs to reach the top floor in total and Johnson is afraid that children could fall down the stairs.
"There's always a kid, that one who finds their way to mischief. I would hate to see that kid fall down over the balcony of those stairs and then the stairs," Johnson said.
Other parents believed having the younger children walk up the stairs could be disasterous. The staff does keep good control of the children in the program. Johnson said no one is allowed in the building without giving their name and a purpose before going past the sign in desk. The staff keeps track of all the children during the day but with the move, children could potentially sneak out.
"We wouldn't know until the end of the day until a kid signs out that they didn't sign out," Johnson said.
Johnson thanks all the parents and community members who came out to support the program. The board decided to table the resolution to do more research on the matter.
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