croton blog for croton-on-hudson new york

Walking Croton's Burning Plank

October 10, 2006

It really sucks that Croton’s ‘tweens and teens lack a safe and sanctioned place at which to hang out.

What a bummer it is that Trustee Brennan spent nearly the entire length of his term hard at work and only managed to draft a still-unseen survey to establish whether the community wants a community center in Croton.


And if that weren’t bad enough, even as they claimed a shortage of recreational space existed in Croton, the Recreation Advisory Committee (RAC) hurriedly closed the short-lived skate park. Orphaned by lack of sensible planning, it remains an abandoned, fenced-in asphalt plot with skate ramps barely covered with protective blue plastic tarps.

It’s also too bad that the Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt was unable to direct former Trustee James “of Dr. Pepper fame” Steinberg, then serving as liaison to the RAC, to ramrod the creation of a teen recreational facility. After all, it was the Mayor who appointed unsuccessful Republican running mate Steinberg to fill his vacated seat as trustee. And the RAC is dominated by Schmidt supporters and appointees to boot.

To judge from their appearance en masse at the village board meeting on October 3, 2006, and from an open letter published in the October 5, 2006, edition of The Gazette, the RAC has finally had it with the mayor’s stalling tactics and inaction. They figuratively broke out the rubber knives and toy swords and mutinied against their captain. Bravo. Stick it to the man (see video below)!

Their letter says that “renovating the existing space in the municipal building is not in conflict with the community center plans nor is it a waste of funds since that room can be utilized by any number of future occupants when and if a community center comes to fruition.

Community center? How did that elephant get in the room? Croton’s residents still haven’t given such an expensive facility the nod, and other possibilities remain unconsidered.

Yes, how about the firehouse community rooms? Remember those multimillion-dollar bonds of the recent past? Well, you gotta see the rooms… For starters, check the Harmon Engine Company. It is certainly a beautiful facility. As a matter of fact, the community room on the 2nd floor of the Harmon Firehouse is approximately 1,500 square feet and has the capacity to hold 145 people (see pictures below).

harmon-engine-house-community-room-8.jpg harmon-engine-house-community-room-6.jpg
harmon-engine-house-community-room-4.jpg harmon-engine-house-community-room-2.jpg
harmon-engine-house-community-room-3.jpg harmon-engine-house-community-room-5.jpg
harmon-engine-house-community-room-1.jpg harmon-engine-house-community-room-7.jpg

That’s right, why hasn’t the Recreation Department looked into the possibility of booking space at the firehouse to meet the needs of their growing clientele? It seems like space at our local firehouses would meet many recreational purposes for young and old residents of the village alike.

And perhaps some of those teens, enjoying the hospitality of a firehouse for the very first time, might get bitten by the “fire bug” and become interested in serving our community as volunteer firefighters.

Video clip:

Download this video clip of “Walking Croton’s Burning Plank” to your video iPod (how to guide).

On October 13, 2006 10:11 PM, onlineoddities said:

Dear Mr. Payman,

I do not even know where to begin responding to your comment… but I guess the part about the senior citzens clamoring about the community center is as good as anyplace.

I completely agree that senior citizens would make good use of the firehouse. However, that is not what my comment is about nor is it the focus of the post- the groups in question are tweens and teens. I am not sure how not addressing senior citizens had anything to do with me getting shoddy information.

Secondly, the “absurd link to the stupid website” is clearly meant to be received humorously but there is more truth behind that than you would think, which leads me to your next point about high school students.

You claim to know that many high school students are furthest from that generalization because you have worked with some on projects over many years. Congratulations. I know hundreds of them, almost certainly much better than you do. In this year’s senior class it would be safe to say that a significant majority of the class drinks alcohol and that around half of the grade has smoked weed at least once. Of course there are kids who do not do those things and are interested in other pursuits. Of course there are those who engage in those activities but do not focus their life around them. I am not saying that all of these kids have a substance abuse problem, most don’t, but some do, and even for those that don’t it is very common for a Friday or Saturday night to include some sort of illegal vice.

Your next suggestion about my own “embarrassing passions” is nonsensical at best.

The next bit about my website is wholly irrelevant and unfounded, I have not made any link to my site in this comments thread and I do not remember if I have elsewhere. Regardless, it would not be for promotional purposes and there are much better ways to acquire traffic than to post in the comments here. My “foundering” website is receiving similar traffic to Crotonblog in a similar time period, so I don’t know where you got that information.

Finally, as a matter of disclosure to further disprove the insanity that you spewed, I have never met Mr. Faranda nor spoken to him directly.

Sincerely, “The person who needs a life”

P.S. I would love to see how you will be able to respond to this.

On October 13, 2006 11:02 AM, Gut-C said:

How about using the wood from these skateboard ramps, build a Community Center right there, and have the teens volunteer with the construction - Problems solved!!

On October 12, 2006 11:09 PM, SSmith said:

using the firehouses for “much needed community center space” has been an idea i proposed several times on this blog in the past. it makes total sense and would save us heavily burdened tax payers from footing the bill for another of dr. mayor’s pathetically flawed campaign promises of yesteryear. but like all true republicans he wants to spend spend spend on half-cocked projects. how about fixing the train lot from flooding? how about thinking of ways to improve what we already have instead of pissing OUR money away on something we have no room for anyway? why not look around at some of the growing roster of empty retail space in town as a community center? makes too much sense, i guess.

dors is right the skate park looks like hell….even my 5 year old thinks so!!! it started out as a great idea but then too many grown-ups got involved and made it no fun for kids who i believe would use the hell out of it if it were free. if i were a teen again i would not want to spend 5 or 7 or however many dollars they were charging to use the park when i could go somewhere else in town for free and do the same thing.

and i don’t know where onlineoddities gets his info, but i remember a whole gaggle of seniors clamoring about the community center at a board meeting a few months ago….they would certainly go to a firehouse to play bingo and vegetate. I also take exception to his absurd link to that stupid website alleging that croton teens only want to smoke dope and drink bud light. in my many years in this village working with high school aged kids and younger on many different projects and events i know that many of our kids are the furthest from that generalization. perhaps onlineoddities is referencing his own secretly embarassing passions and projecting them on others to pathetically alleviate his own guilt. that person should get a life!!! or maybe he is just trying to drive traffic to his own floundering website like mr. anti-crotonblog tom faranda tried to do on several occasions here. you guys must know each other…..maybe you fellas smoke dope and pound bud lights together and concoct this garbage?? you guys always seem to spew out your posts around the same times????? funny that…..

On October 12, 2006 2:43 PM, oldtimer said:

As so often happens, discussion of the basic point presented in this story has been distorted by personal axe grinding. The question at issue is the creation or designation of a recreational facility intended for the use of a specific age group. Unfortunately, everybody misses the core issue in this attempt to provide a narrowly targeted recreation facility. The fundamentally inherent questions of whether such a facility is needed, wanted or would be used are never raised or explored. A group of adults, functioning as an advisory committee to the Recreation Department makes the arbitrary decision that young people need a place to congregate. And the village buys into this lock, stock and barrel.

Questions of supervision, self-governance, age limits, the nature of the activities to be made available, equipment, hours of operation, and cost are never openly discussed or explored. What role will the village’s Recreation Department play in setting up and operating this facility? Will it be an excuse to further expand the Recreation Department’s personnel roster? Will this facility be restricted to use only by local youths? What will be the not-from-this-village “guest” policy? Who will supervise it and how will they be remunerated? Where do the potential users of this facility congregate now, and what activities do they now pursue? What activities will be available: computers, computer games, pinball games, billiards, card games, chess, checkers, or backgammon? Will food and drink be served or permitted to be brought in? If so, who will police the cleanup? How will s-x be kept from rearing its pretty head? What activities will be taboo?

What happens if it turns out—as I suspect it will—that most of our village teenagers are so busy with athletics, theatrical rehearsals, clubs, tutoring, homework and other school-related activities that they have no time for a facility created in response to young people’s needs imagined by well-intentioned, out-of-touch, superannuated adults without the backing of an iota of research? One has to wonder how we managed to raise so many generations of young people without such a facility.

The direction the discussion of this facility is moving closely parallels the creation of the village’s ill-advised skate park, which is obviously still a sore point with a lot of people, as it rightly should be. Responding to a small but vocal pressure group with a selfish interest in the matter, the village fell all over itself to be accommodative and foolishly created what it envisioned as an income-producing entity without calculating costs, without any study of the numbers or the habits of targeted users or of potential competition, without doing any studies of the market it was aimed at or what the traffic would bear in pricing, without any operating and income projections, without any meaningful numbers of any kind. All this from a local government that repeatedly assures residents they are operating the village in “a businesslike manner.” As described above, in the absence of so much preliminary research, how could the outcome of this skate-park venture have turned out differently?

Any business that committed so many fundamental errors in new-product development would have long ago gone bankrupt. But not local government, which can paper over such glaring errors by shrugging and extracting more tax revenue from uncomplaining residents. Sailing blind once again, the village is blithely proposing to embark on another ill-fated voyage in uncharted waters. No wonder it has been wisely said that every community gets the government it deserves.

On October 12, 2006 2:17 PM, waffels said:

this has always been a ridiculous argument. There is an outright predjudice against the skating youth and the culture. It is new and different from what our rec advisory board is used to but it is here and very active….This site and info was brought to my attention look at the statistics. Open the park to the public, for public use, free to the public, supervised by the public using it as is the case with all the other FREE-PARKS in this village. This is crazy and incredibly wasteful. It’s time to do the right thing and end the fiasco.

On October 12, 2006 12:12 PM, dors said:

This is a rehash of a SK8 park blog entry months back. Personal letters and emails of inquiry were sent to the mayor about the park’s status. No replies were forthcoming. Bojangles is right, IMHO (in my humble opinion), that if the kids could skate for free and without supervision the park would be used. Croton’s GOP Chairman DeFrancesco said it was dangerous for kids to congregate in a public place without supervision (I think I just heard the “Jaws” theme playing). However this SK8 park plays out a decision should be made soon. The space looks terrible, even worse than all the empty store fronts. It makes our town look shabby and used-up.

On October 11, 2006 11:06 PM, sdavidson said:

Maybe the skatepark was put in a bad place and operated poorly; maybe it was a bad idea to begin with. Either way it was a failure and ultimately resulted in a loss of money.

Thanks for posting part of the Urban Dictionary entry for Croton-on-Hudson. While it is inaccurate, it is hilarious and I’m sure a few people got a good laugh. While “safe and sanctioned” will certainly keep young people from attending, I think drugs and alcohol are only one minor reason. While drugs and alcohol will always be a part of youth culture, they are not nearly as integral a part of our lives as they were (and continue to be) for people of our parents’ generation. Young people will stay away from things that are “safe and sanctioned” because such sterile environments tend to be lame and not conducive to a good time. Most of the young people in Croton are fairly smart and mature. They just don’t want a bunch of old people looking over their shoulders all the time, and I think this is reasonable.

On October 11, 2006 9:58 PM, onlineoddities said:

I have heard rumors that another town is considering purchasing our old skateboard ramps, pipes and rails. And how do they plan on making effective use out of the park? Operating it just like bojangles describes, a free park maintained at a loss by the village as a service to the community.

On October 11, 2006 7:46 PM, bojangles said:

As an observer of this park, I suggtest a very probable explanation for its sparse use “after an initial burst…” Had it been free (as our other parks are) its reasonable to assume it would have been used. I submit it wasn’t so much a lack of interest as it was the cost.

In answer to Mr. Faranda’s question about the initial cost - I remember hearing in the neighborhood of $150,000. No small amount of money.

As for the comment about a one-theme park as compared to a multi-pupose recreational area, I would compare it to the basketball courts throughout town, the tennis courts, or any of the youngsters playgrounds such as Sunset for Tiny Tots, and/or the Maple Street and Harrison Street recreation areas.

And finally, I would much prefer my kids to be outside in the fresh air, getting some needed exercise to shooting pool and watching tv in the firehouses.

On October 11, 2006 4:40 PM, TeaDrinker said:

Mr. Faranda,

Crotonblog is a cooperative effort of many individuals. You could oblige me and the other Crotonbloggers by not assuming that every story item found here was written by me.

Ross W.

On October 10, 2006 10:32 PM, Tom Faranda said:

Dear Ross,

Leaving aside your classy opening (“It really sucks…”), which I guess shows you are up on current lingo of local teens, your post doesn’t really address the fact that after an initial burst of enthusiasm of a few months, no one used the skate park.

My at-the-time seven year old son used it for awhile, but lost interest around the time that everybody else did.

I don’t know what thinking and $$$$ went into building the park - maybe you can fill us in - but perhaps it demonstrates the dangers of developing a one theme park, rather than a multi-use recreation area.

Onlineoddities, you mean teens aren’t chomping at the bit to play pool and watch TV in the firehouse?

On October 10, 2006 9:12 PM, onlineoddities said:

I’m not sure who you think you are kidding by assuming that teens will actually go hang out at a firehouse. At best you may find a few 13 year olds who will show up for a “party” at the firehouse. If you want to pull your head out of the sand and figure out what Croton teenagers are actually interesting in doing, head over to Urban Dictionary and you’ll find this apt generalization:

The children of the village are all taught to love one another and sign meaningless pieces of paper pledging to “be nice” or to “not do drugs.” However, they begin to smoke marijuana and drink Bud Light in the 8th grade. They love to hang out at Power Lines and generally waste their precious time. Sports are big in the area, with all manner of athletic diversion taking the place of academic achievment. Many youth pretend to be thugs, though they have no real knowledge of African-American culture other than what they glean from MTV Cribs and Chapelle’s Show.

“Safe and sanctioned” is a essentially a big warning sign that will warn teenagers away from attending. If it isn’t sex, drugs or rock and roll why would any teen want to show up?

On October 10, 2006 1:09 PM, bojangles said:

At last, some truth about what’s going on at the fenced in area at the corner of Municipal Place and Riverside Avenue. Every day when I pass by it I am amazed at those ugly blue tarps still flapping in the wind. The last I heard the ramps were being sold to the Town of Cortland to recoup some of the costs of constructing a skate board park there. Way back in the beginning stages of the planning residents were told it would be portable equipment that could be moved if this location didn’t work out. Please Mayor Schmidt and Trustees … this is our money being wasted and our kids that are denied use of a perfectly good and workable skatepark. Why? The winter is upon us and our kids will miss another season. Maybe those people who claimed right in the beginning that skateboarding was a phase and it would soon be gone should have been listened to. We’ll never really know because the park was never given any support. Our Croton kids never really got a shot at finding out for themselves. This travesty should be laid right at the feet of the recreation department. They’ve ignored it from the beginning and have never made any effort to make it a viable part of the recreation community. To bad because now it’s too late. The poor planning and wasteful spending is shameful.


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