What Central Bridge really needs is a community center.
But who will use it?
Where will it be?
And how will such an ambitious project be funded—and then maintained?
Those are some of the questions about a dozen people spent two hours Sunday brainstorming the answers to.
Developing some sort of community center in Central Bridge was one of the pieces of a successful grant SALT wrote to help breathe jobs and life back into the once-thriving community.
It’s also come up again and again in the series of meetings SALT, and consultants Laberge Engineering Architecture and Group Surveying Planning have been holding with residents beginning last fall, said Jerrine Corallo, who’s administering the grant for SALT.
Sunday, and again at a second meeting Monday, residents worked their way through questions that included:
• Who does the center serve? What’s it’s character? Hours? Where is it located?
• What obstacles do we face? What should we avoid? What factors could limit its development?
• Who might be interested in working on the project? What are the unmet needs in the community that might be served by this? Are there other organizations working on related projects?
“Dream big,” Ms. Corallo said Sunday. “We can always dial it back,”
Elizabeth Farr, who grew up in Central Bridge, had plenty of ideas.
She remembers when Central Bridge had a grocery store, a butcher, and more of a sense of community.
“I’m not sure how we get that sense of community again,” she said, but a community center where seniors could gather, where there might be activities for kids, and space for government agencies, meals, and even businesses might be one way.
“I see the character of this building as similar to the Methodist Church Hall, with a kitchen and multiple uses,” Ms. Farr added.
Several in the audience spoke to the need of attracting teens as well and for providing them a safe place to gather.
Chris Tague, Schoharie supervisor and another Central Bridge native, said the center needs to consolidate as many partners as possible—both for buy-in and to pay the bills.
Any community center will likely be phased-in and the group talked about possible sites that might have temporary space available; local churches were the first to come to mind.
One likely obstacle, Mr. Tague said, is overcoming the attitude of people who might not see a need for a community center—or worse, who prefer to criticize efforts to build one.
Central Bridge Fire Chief Tyrone Mitchell had the answer to that.
“That’s something you always have to deal with,” he said. “But once they see what you’re doing here, once they have a reason to come by, the whole thing’s going to snowball. People hate to be the first one at anything.”
Next steps for the community center project include putting together a group of representatives from groups like the Civic Association, churches, fire department and rescue squad as well as researching how other communities have dealt with the issue.
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Next up for the Central Bridge Revitalization Plan is a meeting Monday, March 5, at the Church of Latter-Day Saints, 21 Church Street, beginning with a pot luck dinner at 5:30pm, followed by a presentation and then a public comment beginning at 6:30pm.
Consultants will discuss their findings and recommendations as well as next steps and an implementation plan.
All are welcome.
For more information, contact Jerrine Corallo, (518) 702-5017, JerrineC@SALTDevelopment.org.