Lewis County floats idea of $13.6M community center

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 5:42 PM EDT
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - Lewis County officials stress this is just an idea, but lawmakers are learning of a new project to build a new multi-million dollar community center in Lowville.

This idea has been kicking around for a while, but this is the first time it has been talked about out in the public.

“I think if you build it and if it’s large and it’s a nice facility, it will be a magnet for the other towns,” said District 4 Legislator Ian Gilbert.

County Manager Ryan Piche offered up the facts to legislators this week of the county taking the lead on building a new $13.6 million community center.

The 35,000-square-foot facility would be built just off Lampher Street in Lowville.

It would include a fitness center, indoor turf field, gymnasium, indoor walking track, daycare facilities and outdoor recreational facilities like a multi-use sports field, volleyball and basketball courts and maybe a pool.

To run it, the county would enter into an agreement with Lowville’s Double Play Community Center, where folks go now to work out and kids play club sports.

Double Play already has an option to buy the land where the new center would be, and would lease the facility from the county for $120,000 each year.

“There’s not a lot of indoor recreation and for many months out of the year, we need a place to do indoor recreation,” said District 2 Legislator Lisa Virkler.

How will the county pay to construct the $13.6 million center? The hope is to get at least half of the project funded through grants and private donations, leaving a $7.1 million funding gap.

To pay for that, the county may have to bond for it, meaning county taxpayer money would be used to build the center.

That leaves one lawmaker asking why his constituents in the very southern end of the county should pay for a center that’s built in Lowville.

“They don’t want us to spend taxpayer money on this stuff. There’s a slim to no chance those kids down there are going to get up here,” said District 10 Legislator Jerry King.

That’ll be the debate if lawmakers delve deeper into the idea.

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