Knox townsfolk will gather to build playground in July

The Enterprise — H. Rose Schneider

Maryellen Gillis gestures to a design of the planned playground that will be built in Knox this summer.

KNOX — Years of effort to bring a new playground to Knox will culminate this summer with a community build.

Maryellen Gillis, the coordinator for the Knox Youth Council, said at the May town board meeting that having residents put together a new playground at the town park will save the town money as well as build community pride.

While Gillis thanked numerous people in the community for their help, she said that the group had turned to the experts for what the new playground should be: children. She described how her grandchildren were given sticky notes to highlight equipment they liked listed in catalogues.

Gillis said that the playground will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. She said that currently the closest ADA-compliant playground is in Schenectady, and she hopes that one in Knox will allow children not only from the town but from surrounding areas to come play there.

Last summer, Gillis described to The Enterprise some of the equipment the playground would include that would allow children of all abilities to play, such as a type of merry-go-round that wheelchairs could fit on. Gillis had also said that the old playground was not up to today’s safety standards.

The town will be purchasing equipment through Pettinelli and Associates. Knox Supervisor Vasilios Lefkaditis said at the meeting that the equipment will cost a little under $165,000. He said the town budget allows up to $175,000 for the playground, but that the majority of the cost would be covered by a state grant.

Almost a year ago, the town had applied for a $125,000 grant with the backing of state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. The grant, which is through the state’s Dormitory Authority, comes through the state and municipal facilities program, which has been criticized as pork-barrel spending. The supervisor defended using the program last year, saying that, if Knox didn’t get the funding, another town would.

“I’d rather the Knox taxpayers and residents benefit from it than another town,” he said at the time.

Gillis joked at the meeting that she would be using people who were “voluntold” what to do by friends and family. Part of the work the town will need from volunteers is building the playground itself through a community build.

Although the town highway department will grade the lot, Gillis said that Pettinelli and Associates will set up the framework and pour the concrete between the Wednesday and Friday prior to the community build, which she hopes will occur on Saturday, July 21.

Beside volunteers to put together the equipment, she said that the town will also need donations of food and drinks as well as wheelbarrows and shovels. Other tools will be provided.

Councilman Dennis Barber asked if there would be a rain date for the build. Gillis was adamant that the town would be lucky that weekend.

“It’s going to be sunshine,” she said.

Other business

In addition, the Knox Town Board:

— Donated about $100 to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion to cover the cost of installing flags at the town cemetery for Memorial Day;

— Heard from Councilman Earl Barcomb that the agricultural committee had Gary Kleppel, a local farmer, speak about transitioning farms to young farmers;

— Heard from Lefkaditis that the town’s workers’ compensation cost has decreased from $70,000 to $24,000;

— Announced again that the transfer-station hours will be changing after Memorial Day, from 4 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays;

— Reviewed a proposed building-use policy that would allow the town hall to be used by guests;

— Set a public hearing on June 12 at 6 p.m. for a proposed blight law;

— Discussed a payment in lieu of taxes for the Borrego Solar array;

— Discussed a proposed community garden in the town park; and

— Appointed Chad Saddlemire as a temporary maintenance worker, as the town continues its search to replace Louis Saddlemire, who served as a laborer, maintenance worker, and dog-control officer before resigning last year.

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