By Darrell R. Beebe
The town’s summer recreation program for youths could be in danger of suspension for one year if a suitable, central location for the program is not found before July, town officials said.
Granville Town Supervisor Rodger Hurley told members of the Town Board on May 14 that plans may call for the program, which provides a variety of activities for children ages 5 to 14 for six weeks throughout the summer, to be held at the Mary J. Tanner School.
Hurley said he was told by the Granville Central School District that the program would not be able to be held at either the Granville Elementary School or the Granville High School due to construction at both facilities this summer.
The village-based schools have been the traditional home for the program, allowing easy access to youths who live in the area and could either walk or ride their bicycles to the site of the program.
However, village youngsters would not be able to ride or walk to the Mary J. Tanner School, which is located Route 22 in Middle Granville. Hurley said they would not want to see them walking or riding bikes there, either, due to safety issues and concerns.
Instead, the supervisor proposed that the town hire a bus and driver from the Granville Central School District at the cost of $53 a day to transport students from the village to the Mary J. Tanner School. Total cost of the transportation for the six weeks would be $1,590.
Board members were not receptive to the idea, citing that the transportation would benefit only children who lived in the village and not other parts of the town.
“The only problem I have with this is this benefits the village kids only, and not the town kids,” said town councilman Gary Gutowski. “I don’t see the point. We’re supposed to be taking care of the town.”
“Unless you’re going to have a bus go throughout the town picking up students, let the village do it,” he added.
The councilman proposed a few seconds later that the town and village might share the cost, suggesting a split of 25 percent of the cost for the town and 75 percent of the cost for the village.
Town budget officer Joel Carpenter voiced concerns with the amount of money the program costs versus the amount of children who actually participate in the program. It was estimated that about 50 kids participate in the program on any given day, and about $6,000 is budgeted for it. Adding to that figure the salaries of those who run the program, and the price tag is closer to $10,000.
Carpenter pointed out that this means the town is spending about $200 per child that participates in the program.
“You might as well buy them a season pass at the Great Escape and tell them to have fun,” town councilman Matt Rathbun quipped.
Town board members also pointed out that should they move the program to Mary J. Tanner and not provide transportation, participation rates could drop this summer as a result, meaning the money for the program would be spent an even smaller number of children.
Board members suggested that the town may suspend the program for one year, until it could have it back within the village’s boundaries.
Hurley said he believed the summer recreation program was an important thing to be able to offer Granville children as it served a “substantial” number of kids, and that the town should pay for transportation to the school.
“I think we ought to exhibit the flexibility and do this,” he said.
“Fifty kids is not a substantial number of kids, not in Granville,” Rathbun countered.
Town council woman Mary Emery suggested that the town could send a bus to designated pick-up points in Middle Granville and North Granville. Gutowski pointed out that there were still other parts of the town that would not be served, naming South Granville as just one.
Hurley moved the issue by asking what the will of the board was. Based on the consensus of board members, the town supervisor said he would discuss sharing the cost of the village. Rathbun also said he would talk to the school again to see if some kind of arrangement could be made to continue to have the program at one of the village schools.