The Desmond Center officially opened with a ribbon cutting for the Town of Newburgh to utilize and continue to provide adult enrichment and a family friendly experience.
Town of Newburgh Supervisor Gilbert Piaquadio was joined by William Kaplan and his daughter Joan, with Council Members Elizabeth “Betty” Greene, Paul Ruggiero, Scott Manley, and Anthony LoBiondo. Representatives Senator James Skoufis, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney and Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson were also present with other guests.
After greetings and the pledge of allegiance, Piaquadio began with the history of how this idea came to be with Kaplan reaching out to him and asking if the town would take ownership of the estate. The estate was previously under the ownership of Mount Saint Mary College.
Piaquadio admitted he was a little hesitant in the beginning and had the best interest of the town prior to making the decision. With more discussion between the two, the estate would be a gift through a grant and another grant would cover the maintenance of the estate over the course of the next three years.
In the house itself, Piaquadio has named a room after each of the council members. A room has also been named for James Presutti, Commissioner of Parks Recreation and Conservation. Another room was also named for the late Town Clerk Andrew Zarutskie. The Arboretum on the property will now be known as the William and Elaine Kaplan Arboretum.
For Kaplan, he is grateful for the collaborative effort between him and the board to bring this estate back for the town.
“It was wonderful,” Kaplan said. “He (Piaquadio) handled it so wonderfully.” Kaplan also expressed his joy for the estate to be a part of the town, allowing others to learn and enjoy their time there. “I believe longterm this is going to be a great asset to the town,” Kaplan said.
Sandy Brandman and Ken Tschan are truly excited to see the campus continue the legacy of Demond’s commitment to lifelong learning. Brandman emphasized the importance of community outreach while keeping everyone safe in the near future. Seeing new and old faces come through the doors makes Brandman excited for the days ahead.
For Tschan, he and his colleagues interact with a variety of people with a variety of backgrounds and ages, who continue to educate themselves and become lifelong learners and friends with others who share in that desire.
Presutti will oversee the mapping of trails, creating new walkways and repairing some of the grounds from that storm back in 2018. “My hope for the park, for this Desmond Park, is for the community to come out here and not just seniors but the whole family to come out and be able to utilize this beautiful facility,” Presutti said.