Valley Rec Center back on track


By Jim Poole

Even though it’s been on the back burner for a couple of years, The Valley Recreational Center is still in Middleburgh’s future.
And in the two-year lapse, the game-changing project has morphed a bit.
MIDTEL’s Jim Becker, who’s spearheading the project, said the gym with an array of services remains in the planning stage, and he expects fundraising to resume in the fall.
The Rec Center was a vision of Marge Becker, Mr. Becker’s grandmother, who started the drive more than four years ago.
But as it did for everyone and everything, COVID put the Rec Center on pause.
“And right now we’re not pushing too hard, seeing how folks’ economics are,” Mr. Becker said. “We don’t want to be insensitive.”
Although Ms. Becker died two years ago, the MIDTEL family is continuing with the project.
It’s changed, however. The Rec Center won’t have a pool, sauna, or “any water stuff,” Mr. Becker said.
He called the pool “a heavy lift,” not only financially to build, but also the future costs of maintenance and insurance that come with it.
New plans, which Mr. Becker said may be tweaked again, have also downsized the Rec Center, from its original 34,000 square feet to about 25,000.
He’s been gathering help and information from the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown and the YMCA. Plans call for the Y to be a partner in Middleburgh.
“We visited the YMCA in Saratoga and learned that bricks and mortar are not as important as programs,” Mr. Becker said.
Yet another change is location. The Rec Center probably won’t be by the Bassett Health Center, as first planned.
Mr. Becker called the original site “kind of hidden,” adding that YMCA reps said “visibility is very important.”
The new site will still be in the village, Mr. Becker added, without saying where.
Before it paused, fundraising reached more than $1 million, and Mr. Becker said local fundraising should hit $1.5 to $1.8 million.
Grants from the state will pay the remainder of the $7 million cost, which is less than the original $8.5 million.
“We need to kick start fundraising again, probably in the fall,” Mr. Becker said.
Tied up with work at MIDTEL and also a board member of the Schoharie Economic Enterprise Corporation, Mr. Becker said he’ll eventually hire a professional to manage the project.
“I’m not a facilities guy,” he said. “We want to make sure this is done the right way.”
Programs at the Rec Center will include wellness, physical therapy, rehabilitation, mental health, child care and social events.
“The Y knows these programs really well,” Mr. Becker said. “Although it will be a little smaller, programs are as important as space.”