Recreational opportunities are important for any community, but finding programs that will succeed isn't necessarily easy.
Gloversville is trying to restart its recreation program. The revived Recreation Commission, led by new chairman John Castiglione, is considering several activities for this year. The commission's ideas so far sound good. A downtown festival with vendors and artists on the first Saturday of each month from June to October, chess and checker tournaments, a 5k race and a dance-a-thon are among the ideas.
Having seen some of what does and doesn't work over the years, we have a few suggestions for the commission.
A summer swimming program, which the city in the past has sponsored at Gloversville Middle School and the Fulton County YMCA, seemed to be well attended and appreciated. The commission should consider having the program at one of the sites again this year.
Festivals with vendors and artists tend to attract a crowd. We suggest the city not limit the events to the first Saturday of the month, however. The commission should communicate with other Gloversville organizations that have similar festivals and possibly coordinate the scheduling of them, then post a summer and fall calendar. These events could include a concert or some type of performance.
Summer camps for youths have proven to be successful recreation programs. If Gloversville can get the use of a school gymnasium, the commission could offer a camp that includes daily activities and possibly field trips.
The commission could try to work with the Gloversville Public Library on presenting programs for children, such as magicians, puppet shows and other performers. In addition, the library would be an ideal venue for an author festival.
For the older set, the commission could try to work with the Gloversville senior center to offer programs there. For example, the center could be a good site for city-sponsored table-tennis or billiards leagues.
Foot races attract competitors as long as they have an incentive. These races, which can double as a fundraiser, also can draw a crowd to the starting and finishing locations.
We recommend the commission drop the idea of reopening Littauer Pool. Public pools have failed in other cities and probably wouldn't work in Gloversville anymore. Besides, the cost to reopen and maintain the pool would be exorbitant.
Say no to boring ideas. If the idea costs money and seems like it would attract only about five people, forget about it and try to come up with something more creative.
The city has about $25,000 in its recreation fund, plus another $10,000 donation from the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation to operate an ice rink. It's possible for the commission to secure more money by applying for grants for events and charging for program participation.
A main ingredient for success in any recreation program is good, ambitious people organizing the events. The commission should reach out to members of the public for help, and city residents should show some initiative and attend commission meetings to offer their ideas.