Sidney Center nears completion of Baker Street park project

Vicky Klukkert | The Daily StarSidney Center Improvement Group members Marie Sellitti, left, Mike Sellitti and Carol Behan discuss future plans of the Sidney Center Park and Playground with Sidney Town Highway Superintendent Jamie Roberts.  

The Sidney Center Park and Playground offers residents a place to picnic, play and exercise.

The Sidney Center Improvement Group and the town of Sidney collaborated to build on the park at the end of Baker Street in the hamlet. 

Michael Sellitti, president of the SCIG, said former Sidney town supervisor Gene Pigford, who died in office last year, "was very instrumental in getting the park started." He said, "We planted and dedicated a tree in his memory."

Sidney Town Highway Superintendent Jamie Roberts said the park was a flood mitigation project and a greenspace give back after Amphenol moved its plant in Sidney. Prior to the project, there was a playground and baseball field, a county highway garage and cinder pile that flooded several times, he said. A ditch was added to divert water to a stream that lines another part of the park.

The park is also in response to a birthday wish from Sellitti's niece*, Isabella Conroy, who decided five years ago she didn't want presents, but wanted donations so the playground could be updated, Marie Sellitti said.

"There was just a swing set there and she wanted area children to be able to play," Marie, who is Isabella's grandmother, said. "It snowballed from there. There was so much interest from people in town."

Carol Behan, who has been a member of the group since 2014, said the park has "been a real focus for three years. It's wonderful to see it so close to completion. The industriousness and persistence of the group throughout the pandemic was so great." 

Behan said the group met on Zoom to discuss the project and completed grant applications. In addition to the focusing on the park, the group also completed annual cleanups around town.

Michael Sellitti said in addition to donations from individuals, the group received donations from the Sidney Central School Alumni Association, the Sidney Rotary and Sidney United Way, and received grants from the Community Foundation of South Central New York and the Roxbury Arts Group to help build the park. The park has a swing set and basketball court and the group is waiting for playground equipment to be delivered for installation.

The park has a gravel walking path and 10 fitness stations are placed around the loop for people of all abilities to exercise, Michael said. Each station gives the person exercising the choice of a beginner or advanced workout and describes the exercise. "We want older folks to use the stations," he said. "The good thing about this trail is that children can play on the playground while their parents work out. There is a direct line of site to the playground no matter where the parent is on the trail."

The park also has benches and picnic tables near the parking lot that were built by students at Sidney Central High School, he said, and students are building a pavilion to place over the picnic tables. 

The park will have more benches, including one along the streambank, a picnic table and bike rack made from recycled plastic, and will have art murals, he said. The art murals will depict native plants and animal species and are by local artists Caroline Fey of Walton, and Jody Isaacson and Kieko Howard of Sidney Center, Arc of Delaware County Studio 190* artists and students in the Franklin School Art Club, he said.

One more mural will be painted by local residents during the park's grand opening ceremony July 3. "It will be a paint-by-numbers, so no artistic ability is needed," Mike said. He said more information about the celebration will be on the group's Facebook page closer to the event.

*The relation between Michael Sellitti and Isabella was updated. The name of the Arc of Delaware County art studio was updated.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_VickyK on Twitter.

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