A skateboarder clattered down a ramp and a mother and her young son headed toward the swings as Mike Gagliardi, Chair of the Parks and Rec Commission, and I sat at a picnic table at Majestic Park discussing future plans for Gardiner’s largest community recreational space.
The completion of the pole barn and the bridge to the barn, destroyed last year during Hurricane Irene, is Mike’s first goal. “FEMA is providing all the money to rebuild, improve and widen the bridge to two lanes,” Mike explained, “and the next order of business will be the dedication of the barn in late October or early November.” The barn, equipped with a kitchen and rest rooms, will be a venue for community events of all kinds.
Next up, and the Park and Rec Commission’s priority, is the building of the amphitheater on the hill to the right of the pole barn. The plan has been in the hopper for about five years. Architect and Gardiner resident Kim Hoover designed the amphitheater pro bono. Mike’s enthusiasm for its construction and use is immediately apparent. “The goal,” Mike adds, “is to develop the land to its full potential. Our hope is that the amphitheater will be the site of concerts, plays, movies and productions of all kinds.” He mentions the possibility of a “Battle of the Bands,” collaboration with SUNY’s theater department, performances by the West Point Band and, of course, Roger Thorpe. “Once construction is complete, we’ll move to the entertainment phase with monthly programs and then weekly entertainment during the summer. I think that the amphitheater will be an amazing addition to this town.”
Information about the goings on at the amphitheater will be posted on the Town web site and through flyers in local businesses, Town Hall, and the library. The amphitheater project has to be priced. The key is the financials, Mike says. If the funding comes in he can have the project started by next spring. Mike asks that anyone interested in donating time or money to it, or any other park project, please contact the Parks Commission through the Town web site (www.townofgardiner.org) or at Town Hall (255-9675). Donations can also be deposited directly into a “Friends of the Gardiner Parks” account at Ulster Savings Bank.
While the amphitheater will appeal to lovers of entertainment of all kinds, sports lovers need not despair. The overall park design, presented to the Town Board, includes soccer fields up above the amphitheater as well as tennis courts and a racket area near the white wall adjacent to the ball field. “This is our main park and our goal is to have people gather in this area.”
Mike should have no trouble reaching that goal. Community spaces like the park, with something for everyone, act as magnets for people. The Parks and Rec Commission’s imagination and passion make possible the creation of places where people want to be and enhance community life for all Gardiner residents.