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Shove Park gets a makeover

The Camillus Parks and Recreation Department debuted the new $300,000 expansion to the Shove Park ice arena last week. The expansion includes a brand-new locker room facility, a family community room and coaches office.

Money was raised for the expansion exclusively through private donations. No tax dollars were used for the project.

"The idea surfaced in 2004, and the serious fundraising began in 2005," said Camillus Parks and Recreation Director Eric Bacon. "It was pretty amazing. It was my first day here, and we had a committee meeting of just people from the community. We were sitting around a table and they were saying how they wanted to raise $300,000. I was thinking 'Wow, that's pretty amazing.' A lot of projects are usually tax-funded, but the committee went out and asked businesses for donations, after telling them what they wanted to do.

Camillus Youth Hockey, Camillus Figure skaters, the West Genesee Athletic Club, Camillus baseball and softball, grants from the green foundation (a group out of New York City), The Allen Foundation in Skaneateles, the Gifford Foundation, and the Central New York Foundation among others all pitched with donations for the expansion.

It was amazing. We put out the call for needing money and it started pouring in," Bacon said. "The fundraising went on for about two and-a-half years. We still occasionally get donations. People will stop by, see how nice it is, and want to help out."

Grants were received from Assemblyman Will Barclay and state senator John DeFrancisco, "all without a dollar of Camillus taxpayer money," Bacon said.

The expansion was built on top of an existing outdoor basketball court, with community members volunteering their time in the project. The Roy Fitzgerald Boys Varsity Locker Room's wood lockers were hand-made by long-time varsity hockey supporter John Sharkey. New rubber floor protectors, a new flat screen television, toilets, showers and customized name plates and numbers on the lockers make up the spotless locker room.

The community room, named after Sharkey, contains new custom cabinets, a microwave, refrigerator and seating for about 16. Bacon says that the room can be used for families who want to rent the ice for an afternoon, for birthdays or parties. The coaches office also contains hand-made lockers by Sharkey, and a drastic improvement from the old office.

The next home game for the Wildcats is Dec. 11 against Liverpool.

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