Back in late 2021, Senator James Skoufis presented the Village of Walden with a $370,000 grant to assist the process of building a brand new community center. A little over two years later, the Anita L. Vandermark Community Center is ready for visitors.
The community center will open its doors this Thursday, January 19 at 5:30 p.m. for a ribbon cutting ceremony where light refreshments will be served. Besides a few housekeeping steps, like finishing the kitchen and getting offices prepared, the center is basically ready for use. Walden Recreation Coordinator Michael Bliss explained that although it only took two years to build, he’s been focused on this for 12 years. “I came up with an idea about 12 years ago. It’s been a 12-year process of finding and figuring out money between grants and funding through the village. It was also coming up with the right format to make it the best benefit to the taxpayers,” said Bliss.
The center will be used for many things including hosting the senior group and their activities, as well as providing a space for summer campers during rainy days. Mayor John Ramos noted how important this center will be for summer camp which usually hosts around 300 kids. “When I had my kids in summer camp–whenever we had inclement weather–we’d have to come pick them up. I could [have] been in Greene County and got the phone call, ‘Hey, we have thunderstorms coming up, come and pick up the kids,’ and that’s really a detriment to working families,” said Ramos.
On top of this, Bliss will also work in the building, alongside others from the Department of Parks and Recreation. “There’s a need here and I think my department will grow and flourish with this building even more than it already does. I’m proud of what we do. The vision was to have this expand and it’s happening,” said Bliss.
Besides the large gathering room, which Bliss thinks will be used every weekend once it’s up and running, there are several offices, a kitchen, utility rooms, ADA compliant bathrooms and a coat closet.
Ramos noted that they saved money from having two village departments do the site work. “Our DPW (Department of Public Works) and our Parks and Recs (Department of Parks and Recreation) did the site work primarily, so we saved some money and they have an intricate building here,” said Ramos.
Bliss stated he already has people calling him with interest in using the facility which makes him feel gratified. “I’m happy for the community,” noted Bliss.
The Anita L. Vandermark Community Center is located at 97 Sherman Avenue in Walden and everyone is invited to attend its ribbon cutting this Thursday night.