A park paradise

Having a recreational field, and better yet a whole park, is a boon for any community. Right here in Millerton, there’s Eddie Collins Memorial Park — the best recreational resource and attraction for miles around.

But it could be better. And that’s exactly why the Millerton Recreation Committee’s Stephen Waite and Jeanne Vanecko are hoping it can be redone — turned into a gem of a park for all to use and enjoy. The pair appeared before the North East Town Board at its regular meeting on Thursday, May 9.

They spoke of all of the grand plans the committee has envisioned for the park that’s been there for so long. In 1916, $15,000 was left by William G. Denney to benefit young people. A pool was eventually built. In 1963, the ball field was named after Millerton native, former resident and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Eddie Collins. In 1964, the familiar archway into the park was unveiled and the ball park dedicated in Collins’ memory. Ever since, it’s been a local site for all things recreation. There are baseball fields, a basketball court, a skate park, a handicapped-accessible playground and, at one point, a (now gone) pool.

The park plays host to numerous activities throughout the spring and summer. There’s the Harlem Valley Rail Ride, which brings scores of cyclists from around the Tri-state region to our small pinpoint on the map. There’s the Millerton Youth Basketball League, which plays host to young athletes  ranging from the tiniest of tots to teens. There are three-on-three basketball tourneys. There is summer camp. There are competitions of all sorts and, for those just looking to relax, a pavilion to sit under and a lovely playground to enjoy with little ones that is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.

Most of those amenities will remain, though all that do will be improved.

A soccer field is also in the works, and a new bath house. And a community center is planned to welcome both sports teams and the public — and at around 2,700-square feet it will be a major year-round attraction.

The crowning glory for the updated Eddie Collins Memorial Park? A new pool. Whatever option is ultimately chosen, know that an outdoor pool is guaranteed.

“The pool will be the focus of the park,” according to Waite, who said it will appeal to both adults and children — perfect for those wanting to take a cool dip in the water or swim laps against the stopwatch.

There will be trails around the park, with paving materials that are ADA compliant and user friendly for both the elderly and the disabled.

There will be other activities at the park, that don’t take any real infrastructure and can be built atop the septic system (think boccie courts).

All of these improvements will help make Millerton even more of an attraction — no small feat considering how many people the village currently draws as day visitors or evening revelers. As mentioned in last week’s presentation before the Town Board, Millerton already has the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, Rudd Pond and, further away, Copake Falls — adding a really robust park to its offerings will make the village’s recreation scene that much better. Learn more about the proposed plans — which Waite and Vanecko both cautioned will change over time — by stopping by Village Hall at 21 Dutchess Ave., or Town Hall at 19 North Maple Ave. 

And to the committee behind all of these grand plans: Good work! We can’t wait to see how things turn out, and to enjoy the park right alongside all of the town and village’s very deserving citizens. From what we’ve seen, it promises to be Millerton’s own little slice of paradise.