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Hamburg offerings will be centralized at new community center

HAMBURG — Construction is in full swing at the new town of Hamburg Community Center, which will condense many of the town’s currently widespread offerings into one location.

Director of Recreation Martin Denecke said that the building will house the youth bureau, which is currently located at Woodlawn Beach; the recreation department, which now resides at the Hamburg Recreation Park – Nike Base; senior services, which now operates out of a location on Sowles Road; and the adult day care center, which is located on Pleasant Avenue.

The existing structure was built around 1999 by the Frontier Central School District, with approval from New York state. The Frontier Community Learning Center was utilized for Frontier athletics, Frontier Continuing Education, the Hamburg Youth Bureau and the local Board of Cooperative Educational Services, as an alternative education site. “This was created for children who were not able to learn well within their home district,” Denecke said.

BOCES recently asked out of its lease and vacated the building.

Town Supervisor Steven Walters, who was looking to expand the town’s adult day care center, was contacted about leasing the building, and Denecke said the existing structure fit the town’s needs perfectly.

“We worked out a deal to lease this long-term,” he said, “and it’s great, because we are able to make the necessary renovations.” All aspects of the location must be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, before services are moved into the building.

Negotiations began in February and the deal was announced in May.

“We can manage financially, because this building was a project supported by the state,” Denecke explained. “If Frontier maintains the ownership, the state will still pay 75 percent of the costs. We pay the rent and can expand our programs.”

Four existing locations will be combined into one, making many of Hamburg’s offerings centrally located.

The senior center on Sowles Road is owned by People Inc. The town will continue to program the on-site therapeutic pool, which is used for exercise. Classes are led by an instructor.

The town’s day care center will be put up for sale and the Woodlawn Beach offices will be used by other town entities.

The recreation office will continue to run, all year, as a preschool is operated out of the Nike Base, and the office space will be taken over by building and grounds crews, according to Denecke.

The new community center will boast a large administrative wing that will house approximately 20 staff members, as well as several counseling rooms. That wing was one of the first to receive a face-lift by the town, in its remodeling of the building. Denecke called the existing facility “almost turnkey,” and said that he is impressed by how well it has been maintained.

The BOCES reception area has been turned into the senior services reception; the current senior lunch offerings at Sowles Road will be moved to the new community center and served out of the former BOCES cafeteria, which also has an on-site kitchen. The existing lunch programs at Blasdell’s Lilly Apartments and the village’s Creek Bend Heights will continue.

“A lot of programming will be here,” Denecke said, adding that the size of the facility will allow the town to expand its current offerings.

The town’s adult day care center will also move locations. “A lot of effort has been put into making this look homey,” Denecke said, gesturing around the spot that will soon house this offering. “It will be very lively. There are games [and] singing going on, all the time. We wanted to give this program more space, so we can accept more people and give them more to do.”

Office spaces are currently being turned into activity spaces. Denecke said that, while the town’s existing day care center can handle 30 individuals at a time, the new facility will be able to welcome double that number.

Individuals aged 60 and older may take part in general senior services programming, which includes a game room, activity spaces, a fitness room, arts and crafts, driver’s education classes, gardening, guest speakers and more.

Denecke added that the town will be able to open the facility in the evening for child or adult use, if need be. Outside groups will be able to rent rooms for special events.

The full-sized gym will be shared by the school and the community center; the town’s existing programs will continue to utilize other Frontier school buildings, in a collaborative effort.

While Denecke said that staff members may be able to move into the administrative wing within the month, other aspects of the building will take more time to complete.

“We are trying to make everything look very homey; giving it a less institutional look,” Denecke said. “It will be good to have people all together in the same spot.”

The new community center is expected to be operating at full capacity by Jan. 1.

The center is located at 4540 Southwestern Blvd. in Hamburg. For more information, call 646-5145 or visit the recreation department at www.townofhamburgny.com/Recreation_Department_Home.

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