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Community Garden Proposed for Site of the Millwood Swim Club

The plan also includes donation of produce.

Supporters of a community garden for the Millwood Swim Club appear at the New Castle Town Board's work session.
Supporters of a community garden for the Millwood Swim Club appear at the New Castle Town Board's work session.
A community garden has been proposed for the site of the defunct Millwood Swim Club, which is an idea promoted by the group InterGenerate and comes with support from some of the property's neighbors.

The proposal was presented to the New Castle Town Board at a Dec. 3 work session, with supporters on hand to discuss it. An outline document for the project and what it entails was also distributed.

According to the outline, the organic garden is expected to have 48 raised beds - the number is currently an estimate - that would be 4 feet by 8 feet. Most of those involved would have two beds, and bed pairs would have a $50 seasonal rental fee, although financial hardship would allow for a waiver. 

There would be a compost pile available and folks would be able to learn composting from InterGenerate. The garden would be for all residents of New Castle and a portion of its produce would be donated. The intended beneficiaries would be charitable groups that are based in New Castle.

The Millwood garden would be run by a Garden Committee comprised of residents who are interested and representation from InterGenerate.

The proposal is the latest for the site, which is located at 18 Sand St. In 2011 officials from the town and Westchester County considered a proposal to turn the site into a pocket park near the North County Trailway, a plan that was subsequently dropped. The club has not been open since 2009, it was noted at the time, and has been defunct.

The town is taking possession of the site due to backed property taxes, according to Town Administrator Penny Paderewski.

InterGenerate is a group with a track record in dealing with community gardens. The group, on its website, states that it "builds strong communities on a healthy planet through local food production." Its stated experience includes involvement with a garden at the Marsh Sanctuary in Mount Kisco, a Chappaqua site near the ambulance corps and a presence at the John Jay Homestead in Katonah. 

Backers are seeking to have the town's involvement in clearing the overgrown site and to provide work that includes removal of old play equipment, possible tree pruning and inspecting an existing fence. The addition of mulch in the beds's area is also being sought, along with a connection to town water. InterGenerate and the committee would work on maintaining the mulched area and bring items such as a hose, compost, soil and material for the beds.

At the meeting, the proposal received the enthusiastic backing from town board members.

Councilman Jason Chapin suggested reaching out to groups such as Westorchard Elementary School, while Councilman John Buckley suggested a partnership with New Castle Community Media Center to help in getting out information.

Former Councilman Michael Wolfensohn, who was among the supporters present, suggested town assistance for clearance and a subsequent site visit for figuring out what to touch. He noted that the site includes a wetland.

Town departments that could be involved include Recreation and Parks and the Department of Public Works.  

Quint Smith, who lives near the site, discussed the historical role of the swim club during the meeting, noting that it attracted multiple families. He is among those who supports a reuse.
C. Metcalf December 13, 2013 at 10:29 AM
As someone who used to be a member of the Millwood Swim Club for six years until we moved across town and had a swimming pool in our backyard, I find it sad that it will turn from a swimming "mud hole" into a garden. We loved the community that it had, with kids playing in the sand, having greased watermelon contests in July, and having a community barbecue day where we all ate hotdogs and hamburgers and dined on lovely salads...this was a wonderful time. How about coming up with a plan where people actually have to interact with each other? A community garden is nice, but perpetuates the New Castle existence of never having to actually interact with other people...Millwood Swim Club was sweet, old-fashioned, and really, quite lovely. This new idea seems isolating.

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