Retirement for some seniors is a chance to do something good with their time, something they may not have otherwise done if they were still committed to Monday through Friday jobs. Residents at Woodland Pond, a senior living community in New Paltz, are taking advantage of this newfound free time by initiating a project that they hope will enhance the lives of fellow residents. This group of residents sought to build a scenic viewing platform at the end of a natural trail that extends from the back of the community down to a small pond. The committee of residents that executed the project hosted a dedication ceremony on September 24 during National Active Aging Week. Douglas McBride, Trina Greene, Ray Smith and Anne Smith, all leaders of the project, enjoyed the ceremony and are encouraging everyone to check out the new platform.
“I was in the wooded area where the viewing platform would eventually be built, walking alongside the conservation stewardship officer from Wallkill Valley Land Trust, when the idea of building a viewing platform came to mind,” said Doug McBride, a resident at Woodland Pond. “I really enjoy spending time outdoors and I feel it is important to explore the world around us. I like to go down there by the pond and observe the wildlife, insects, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, migrating water fowl and the beavers that call the pond home. I initiated the project, as I wanted to share my experiences with others so they too could enjoy what I have come to love. It also gives the residents an opportunity to do something active.”
The Woodland Pond Residents Council started the Mill Brook Preserve Committee in February 2011. In May the committee decided to initiate the viewing platform project. The whole process took two years to complete. The Bruderhof, a community that performs pro bono public service, provided the labor for the project. Trina Greene, a resident at Woodland Pond and current chair of the committee, led the fundraising efforts and was able to collect $5,000 from 50 residents in 3 weeks for this project. The money went toward the required materials to build the platform.
“We have a gorgeous pond behind the community that is deep down in the woods,” expressed Ray Smith, a resident at Woodland Pond. “The trail existed before we built the platform and the actual building of the platform did not take very long at all. There were a lot of approvals, applications, fundraising, building permits and other forms of red tape that extended the length of the project. We are all delighted that the project is finally finished. I’ve taken many residents down there to see the platform and the scenic view already. I am eager to share this with anyone that I can.”
The committee purchased two benches with the remaining funds for the purpose of offering places to stop and rest on the way to the platform. One bench is placed at the trailhead, and the other is halfway between the trailhead and the platform. The platform itself has two built-in benches. The platform will have a plaque honoring The Bruderhof. One of the benches will have a plaque honoring the residents who made the platform possible.
“It is beautiful and well constructed,” said Anne Smith, a resident at Woodland Pond. “Everyone worked really hard on the project and it shows. We wanted to give people a place to go that is beautiful, peaceful and quiet. Birdwatchers will appreciate it, as well as those who are fond of nature. We also wanted to encourage people to exercise and enjoy the outdoors.”
“This new viewing platform is an excellent feature for residents to enjoy,” said Robert Seidman, executive director at Woodland Pond. “We are all very impressed by the committee’s work and devotion to the project. Their motivation made this idea a reality.”