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Athens town, village battle over community center

Sep 10, 2021 6:00 am

Melanie Lekocevic is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media the Athens Town Board, Tue., Sep. 7, deadlocked 2 to 2 on a vote that would have reversed a five-year-old decision to hand management of the Athens Community Center from the village to the town. One board member was absent and did not vote. The meeting drew a near-capacity crowd of village residents that generally oppose the change. Town Supervisor Robert Butler and board member Mary Brandow voted against the resolution, with board members Michael Ragaini and Shannon Spinner voting for it; board member Anthony Paluch was not present. A second vote will be taken on September 20, when everyone will be present, Butler said. “We’ll have to do it again when our fifth member is here,” he said. The building that houses the Athens Community Center was the first, but temporary home of Columbia-Greene Community College in 1969 before moving its campus to Greenport in 1974. For years it has served as a community center, housing the town and village offices, as well as the town court, village police station and a public gymnasium. The building is owned by the Coxsackie-Athens Central School District, but as long as it remains a community center, under the current arrangement, the village is responsible for it. “Currently the village maintains the community building and the town rents the space they use from the village,” according to a letter from the village board to the community. “The building is in need of extensive renovation. Several years back the town and village boards resolved to turn the building over to the town, which has the financial capability of performing the renovations.” However, for a number of years, the town board has been considering moving the town offices to another location and constructing a new building, leaving the community center in the hands of the village. “From the village standpoint, obviously we want to move ahead with what was in place,” Village Mayor Amy Serrago said. “When I first became a trustee, it was already past due to turn the building over. It was supposed to happen in late January 2019. I think the community is behind us sharing the building, rehabbing the building, making it what it could and should be.” Serrago conceded the building needs a lot of repairs, but she said the two municipalities working together could handle it. Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.

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