SOLVAY, NY – Sept. 28, 2004 – Town of Geddes Supervisor Robert Czaplicki today announced two large grants totaling $350,000 will fund the reconstruction and renovation of the Solvay-Geddes Community Youth Center, ensuring the future of the 40 year-old facility.
New York State Senator John DeFrancisco secured a $100,000 grant for the Center in the 2005 state budget and Honeywell, successor to the Allied Chemical and Solvay Process Companies, pledged an additional $250,000 to complete the job.
“Now more than ever, it is important to provide a safe and nurturing environment where our youth and community members of all ages can gather to engage in healthy activities,” said Senator DeFrancisco. “I am proud to have secured $100,000 for the Solvay-Geddes Community Youth Center to help afford that opportunity to the young people and seniors alike. By investing in our residents, especially our youth, we will continue to strengthen our neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for all who live there.”
“We are pleased to join in helping to renew this important community facility,” said Kate Adams, Honeywell’s Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, who attended the event today. “Honeywell got involved because community leaders brought the Center’s plight to our attention, and asked us to help. The Geddes Community Center has a historic link to Honeywell. By helping rebuild this facility we are both honoring the past and ‘Building for the Future.’ We know how important such facilities are in helping serve the daily needs of local residents.”
“Work should begin later this Fall, and we hope to have it completed by early Spring 2005,” said Czaplicki. “This Community Center is such an important place for us. It gets very heavy use, and as a result, the facilities are really starting to wear out and deteriorate.”
Also in attendance today were Onondaga County Executive Nicholas Pirro and County Legislator Jim Corbett.
The facility suffers from roof leaks, patched and cracked tile on floors and in showers, locker rooms and restrooms, along with worn or worn-out building systems and furnishings. Renovations will also include upgrading for access for the physically challenged.
While the building, located on Woods Road in Solvay, is owned by the Solvay Tigers youth sports program, it’s operated by the Community Center, a non-profit organization. “Theoretically, we’re funded by members’ dues,” said Len Pfeiffer, Center Director. “But in reality, we rely on constant fundraising efforts, especially Bingo, just to stay solvent. We could never find an extra dime in the budget for repairs or improvements.”
“There’s just no way we could ever fund these renovations without help,” added Czaplicki. “The grant from Senator DeFrancisco jump-started everything, and then Honeywell, came forward to help.” Now others are offering their services. As an example, Czaplicki lauded John DeSpirito, a local businessman who lives in Geddes. When DeSpirito heard of the Center’s plans, he stepped forward, volunteering to serve as the project’s construction manager at no charge, thus saving thousands of dollars in project costs.
Czaplicki also acknowledged O’Brien and Gere Engineers and Heuber Breuer Construction, who contributed their services to develop a full set of work plans required to renovate the building, the locker rooms, the public bathrooms, the community meeting rooms and the kitchens, and provide proper access for the physically challenged throughout.
The Center was built in 1963. According to Czaplicki, Allied Chemical and its employees contributed greatly to its original construction with numerous donations of equipment, materials and labor. Czaplicki referenced the “wall of presidents” – photos of all the Center’s past officers – noting that “Half of them or more were Allied employees. Heck, they built half this town!”
“Solvay Process and Allied Chemical were a vital part of this community for a century. Now as Honeywell they have stepped in to assist in the revitalization of the Center and help us build for the future,” continued Czaplicki. “I think that’s a pretty nice story.”
During the day, the Center serves seniors who rely on the facilities to maintain their health and fitness. Impromptu basketball games are often held during the lunch period. From 3:30 to 6:00 pm, the Center is filled with school children attending the after-school program, and evenings are all fully scheduled with youth sports activities and a Thursday night basketball league.