BETHLEHEM—Community volunteers showed up at Elm Avenue Park on Saturday, Sept. 17, to take part in a community build day helping to install brand new playground equipment funded by grant money that was secured by local Assemblymember Patricia Fahy (D-109). In four two-hour shifts, approximately 100 volunteers, guided by a crew from Miracle Recreation, shoveled dirt, mixed and poured concrete, and helped to assemble the new state-of-the-art playground.
“It was my honor to help mix and pour some concrete,” said Jesse Calhoun, the Republican candidate running against Fahy in the upcoming election. “It was humbling to see all the firefighters out helping—they are the real heroes here, helping to make our communities better every day. They must help with tasks like this more often than we imagine.
“As a preschool teacher,” he said, “I have to say that this seems to be one the most fun looking playgrounds around. The design team did a great job creating a playground that allows children to take risks and get some solid gross motor exercise. I just might have to take my preschool class on a field trip!”
The equipment was purchased with part of a $250,000 state grant, the only money Bethlehem is currently set to receive of more than a billion dollars appropriated for the State and Municipal Facilities Program (SAM), a discretionary fund from which state legislators can request specific amounts for capital projects such as infrastructure maintenance and upgrades for municipalities within their districts.
While critics say that discretionary funds, such as SAM, allow too much opportunity for corruption among those who control the flow of those funds—namely, legislative leadership and the governor—Assembly Speaker Carl Beastie defended the program earlier this year, saying the money was “going to government entities to do good things,” and claiming that there is adequate oversight regarding its apportionment.
The rest of the $250,000 secured by Fahy was spent on a new kayak launch at Henry Hudson Park and will also go toward new fitness equipment at Elm Avenue Park, expected to be installed next spring.