To the Editor:
I have been involved with the recreation department and its programming for over 20 years. In the years since I first became involved with the department, I have had the pleasure of watching children grow into adulthood and I’ve seen these same children return to the programs with their children. I’ve seen children learn to swim in “our” program come back as teenagers to work as lifeguards. I’ve seen kids who came to the playground program daily, leave the area and then return to Potsdam as parents so their children can have some of the same experiences they did when they were young. I’ve watched kids who seemed to live at the arena during the late fall and winter grow into adults who fill the stands watching their own kids and grandkids play and skate...and then return to the arena for their own ice time.
I have changed since I first became part of the recreation department. I am now a mother of three. My children participate in the Potsdam Recreation programs, summer and winter. They have all learned to swim in the Learn-to-Swim program at either Sandstoner Park or Postwood Park, and they have all enjoyed the summer playground program, and they have loved swimming at Merritt Pool in the winter during the community swim that is sponsored by the recreation department. They have all learned to ice skate at the Pine Street Arena. They have watched hockey games there and the figure skaters practice as well. These are all things that my children enjoy and have taken advantage of for as long as they can remember. These are the same things I tell people about when they approach me and ask “so what is there for kids to do in Potsdam?” when they are thinking about relocating to the area. The children’s programs are a draw for families interested in coming to this area with the hospital or area colleges.
I know that the recreation department and its programs have a cost attached to it. I understand that these costs do financially burden the taxpayers in the town and village but I feel the costs are worth it. Children and adults benefit from the programs offered by the recreation department and the impact of losing this department will hurt too many to count.
I know that there are community members who are willing to help out any way they can. I have some ideas and am more than willing to help out anyway I can. I know that the Joint Recreation Committee may also have some ideas to better the programming while reducing costs. Perhaps it’s time to see what other options are out there that could supplement and maybe even reduce the cost of operation of the department and its programs without cutting the department and closing the arena. But in order to look at cost saving measures, we need the village to stay.
I ask that Mayor Yurgartis, and Trustees Warr, Hopke, Gardner, and Tischler for the sake of “OUR” children, to reconsider your involvement in the recreation department and all it has to offer they area youth!
Michelle L. Garrow, Potsdam