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MEMBERS SOUGHT FOR RECREATION CENTER PANEL

There's not a lot of argument around town about whether Wheatfield should have a recreation center. But where the agreement ends, the questions begin.

Where should it be? What should it include? How will it be paid for? These are all questions that still need to be answered.

That's why David Collins, head of the Recreation Commission, is looking for residents to fill an advisory committee charged with formulating a plan to get a center built in the town.

"We're looking for a committee to develop ideas for the type of center we want and for funding too," Collins said. He referred to the 2000 survey conducted by the University at Buffalo department of planning, which found a 16,000-square-foot facility with an indoor swimming pool and gym would cost a little more than $2 million.

Most residents in the survey named swimming as the No. 1 activity needed in the town.

Collins said any plan for a center would have to require input from the community it would serve.

Recreation Department Director Gloria Lariccia agreed the subject would provoke "a lot of questions that need positive answers."

Some of the issues that need to be addressed include: the type of facilities to be offered, whether the pool would be indoors or outdoors, its location and, of course, funding.

Collins favors an indoor pool.

"We've discussed this," he said. "It makes no sense to put in an outdoor pool for $200,000 that can only be used five weeks out of the year. There's no return on the money."

Collins acknowledged that all the issues should be examined before the plan is drawn. He said he wants the community to do the examining.

At recent Town Board meetings, he has made his sales pitch for volunteers for the committee. He specifically was interested in those with engineering backgrounds to help with a design.

"I'd like to tap into the professionals and any residents who want to help without having to pay for outside consultants," he said. So far, the only volunteer has been Gilbert Doucet Jr., the son of Councilman Gil Doucet, one of the board liaisons to the commission.

One recommendation by the university planning team was to entice a YMCA facility into town with grants and land offers. Another idea would be to borrow or lease facilities from private businesses or local schools.

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