Chester unveils community center design

Ambulance building site is officials' new favored location for proposed center

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  • This "generic" illustration shows what the new proposed Chester community center might look like (Provided by the Town of Chester)

By Edie Johnson

— After local residents objected to putting Chester's proposed community center on Knapp's View, the town's 90-acre open space parcel used for recreation, officials have decided to put it elsewhere.

Town officials also presented a drawing of what the new center might look like.

Town engineer Al Fusco said he hopes the building can be kept to one floor. The left portion, which would be used for town business, might have a another, lower section in the rear.

Supervisor Alex Jamieson emphasized that the community center will be designed for use as a senior center and for the expansion of youth programs as much as for official town business.

The town has put a lot of money into upgrading the current town hall. But Jamieson said it's just not sufficient for the town's growing needs. He called the proposed new building a "win-win" financially.

He said the ambulance building has enough room for the police department, which is now at town hall. Current efforts to refinance the town's debt will save nearly half of the money that the new building would cost, he said. And if the town then either sells or leases the current town hall, the net cost to residents would be zero, he said.

Fusco emphasized it's still a work in progress, but current plans put the new center slightly behind and to the left of the ambulance building. The current rendering is more or less "generic," he said, and could be put on a different site.

The next alternative, the Commons parkland, was considered, but removing its parkland status would be difficult. The third choice — the town-owned ambulance building — has an adjacent lot already also owned by the town. The adjacent parkland could be used for recreation, landscaping and parking, officials said.

A group of citizens in Sugar Loaf who asked that Knapp's View remain open space wrote a letter of appreciation to the town board.

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