The town is developing initiatives they hope will increase usage of one of its facilities.
Officials are working with members of several civic groups — the Whitehall Youth League, staff members and local senior citizens — to develop programs to encourage greater use of the recreation and senior centers and create a more unified facility.
Stephanie Safka, town council person, said the goal is to have more activities happening in the facility.
“The whole thing is to have the building utilized more than it is now. It’s a great facility and a great location. We want a more unified usage so it represents the whole community. The facility isn’t just for young children; it’s a whole-community center for recreational uses,” Safka said.
While school-age children and the Whitehall Youth League use the facility on a regular basis, officials feel it is underutilized and groups have become fragmented.
“There is some separation and it’s become ‘this is our group’,” Safka said. “We would like to see some more unity and cooperation.”
To that end, the town has created a Rec. Committee which met for the first time last week. The committee includes representatives from each community group that uses the facility.
The committee is chaired by Richard LaChapelle and includes Tammy Stevens, Julie Eagan, Jeremy Putorti, Matt Dickinson, Barbara Kachele and Safka.
Additional members may be added if there is a need or interest.
“We pulled the committee together to see what we can come up with,” said Kachele, who is a member of the senior citizens’ group.
The committee is expected to identify things the facility and each group needs, things each would like, and then determine which of those things they can actually accomplish.
“We’re hoping each group will cooperate and get everyone what they absolutely need,” said Kachele. “I spoke with the group (seniors) and they’re aware of what we’re trying to do.”
“We all agree it’s a good idea.”
Although the committee doesn’t to focus on one group, early discussions have revolved around seniors, who use the facility a few times each month and have fewer activities planned than some of the other groups.
One idea that has been explored is a mentoring program that Safka hopes could create cross-participation from seniors and youth.
The program would match up seniors and youth who would teach each other different skills.
For instance, youth could teach seniors computer skills.
The committee is also planning to invite guest chefs from local restaurants to serve meals at the Senior Center. The meals would be open to the public and the first will be held on May 21.
There are also plans for a quilting group and the committee is exploring other usage possibilities.
The town-owned facility includes the Senior Center and the Rec Center, on opposite sides of the same building, as well as sporting fields.
“Everyone has been very receptive to the idea and everyone wants to see some forward motion,” Safka said.