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Legislators to hear alternative idea for Lewis Lanes

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LOWVILLE — Since the Lewis County legislators agreed to a $1 million purchase of Lewis Lanes a week ago today, two legislators have changed their minds. Public comment has varied from dismay over the haste of the decision to applause for resolving the county’s space issue for one-tenth of the proposed outer Stowe Street building.

With a potential resolution on the floor of tomorrow night’s legislative meeting to rescind the purchase agreement, legislators today will hear a proposal from a local non-profit’s board of directors who believe they have a solution that will make everyone happy.

Daniel M. Myers, Double Play Sports Executive Director, said the idea has been in the works for six years — a hub to house a recreational community center, as well as a welcome center to highlight the county’s unique assets, such as one of the world’s only bowling pin factories, largest wind farm on the East coast, only location where Philadelphia cream cheese is made and what Mr. Myers called, “The garden of Eden of outdoor recreation.”

Mr. Myers’s plan would keep the county’s idea intact, to relocate Office for the Aging, Department of Motor Vehicles and Board of Elections offices to the 16,640-square-foot building.

Six of the bowling lanes would remain on the premises, while the two acres of land would allow for expansion to incorporate a portion of the community center and industrial development.

“It’s about giving the community something more for their tax dollars, and this proposal promotes local economic stimulation while creating jobs,” said Mr. Myers.

It would house the Chamber of Commerce and Industrial Development Agency, creating a great starting point for visitors or potential new residents or business owners.

The idea had already garnered support from the Northern New York Community, Dyson and Pratt-Northam foundations.

“The building pays the county back through community center taxes and commercial space that may be created in the industrial park,” he said.“It could truly be a win-win for the people and local government.”

Last week’s decision by legislators to purchase the bowling alley took Double Play’s idea to not only create a community center but to collaborate with county to join forces to allow all county residents to reap the benefits of tax dollars and county resources.

“We’re not asking for any money,” said Mr. Myers. “We’re just asking to partner with one project for a better, well-rounded facility for the entire county.”

The property, 7828 Route 26, could further yield projects in the long term such as community gardens, conservation trails, and biking trails from both the Lewis County Fairgrounds and Maple Ridge Center.

It would lend itself to senior activities, including residents at the hospital’s residential care facility across the road.

“Everyone can benefit from this, not just a single entity,” said Mr. Myers.

Other ideas for the facility include a museum for Qubica-AMF, a hall of fame for community members, after school programs and addition of commercial space for promoting small business.

Mr. Myers said in his research he’s found many communities with such facilities, merging municipal services with community and recreation, have seen great success.

Mr. Myers, a special-education teacher and varsity baseball coach at Lowville Academy and Central School, has operated Double Play Sports Community Center since 2011.

The mission of his center, he said, “is to offer healthy opportunities to develop physically mentally and emotionally from youth to adulthood and throughout a lifetime.”

With the joint project, “our mission can be done together, with the county,” he said.

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