Valley Rec Center $250,000 closer to dream

Valley Rec Center $250,000 closer to dream
By Patsy Nicosia

Three months into a capital campaign to build a Valley Recreational Center in Middleburgh, Marge Becker’s lifelong dream has raised $250,000. “With minimal effort,” said Alexander “Sandy” Mathes Jr., of Mathes Public Affairs, who’s acting as a consultant to the $8.5 million project. Now comes the big push—identifying potential donors, applying for a state Consolidated Funding Application grant, and working with regional partners including Middleburgh Central School and Schoharie County businesses. “It’s a locally-driven project. It has to be,” said Mr. Mathes. Which is why Ms. Becker, whose Randy and Marge Becker Foundation came up with the Valley CRC as a way to increase local health, recreation and economic opportunities, is gearing up to start knocking on doors herself. “Right now, it’s about the pledges,” said Ms. Becker’s grandson and MIDTEL president and CEO, Jim Becker. “Pledges are fine. Once we get those numbers, we’ll be able to see where we are in the planning…This is a big project and it needs to be sustainable to succeed.” Pledges are good, said Ms. Becker, “But we’re also taking checks,” drawing laughter from both Mr. Becker and Mr. Mathes. And she means it. Ms. Becker said she’s been interested in bringing some sort of recreational facility to Middleburgh most of her life. As a girl, she rode her bike to the creek to swim and as a mother, she drove her children to Cobleskill for lifeguard lessons not available in Middleburgh even after businessmen built a small pool—something that also sent her knocking on doors. The project calls for a competitive swimming pool, full-sized gym, whirlpool and sauna, fitness and aerobics center, spin room, locker rooms, classes for seniors, and a Kids’ Corner with the eventual goal of it becoming a YMCA. It will be open year-round and part of a “complex” that includes the Middleburgh Library and Bassett Clinic. Though it will replace the community pool that Ms. Becker fought so hard to see built, there are plans to offer scholarships for Valley CRC memberships. It’s been about a 10-year road to get to this point, Ms. Becker said, but if fundraising efforts are successful, Mr. Becker said they could break ground as soon as 2020. To that end, they’ve been working closely with State Senator Jim Seward’s office on the CFA application, which Mr. Becker called critical to the project’s success, and with the New York Power Authority. “But we still need help and support from the local community,” he said. “We need them to invest in it and in themselves and in their families.” It’s also an investment in the region’s economy, Mr. Mathes said, with a recreation center just one more amenity to draw new residents, small businesses, and jobs. “It’s what families are looking for,” he said. “The vibrancy of Middleburgh and Schoharie County.” The bulk of the project’s construction costs will need to be raised through donations over a three-to-five-year commitment period. Pledge forms and more information are available at or by calling Mr. Becker at (518) 827-5211.

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