After 13 months at the Firemen’s Field clubhouse, the Silver Threads senior group is back at Hendrickson Park. The seniors were displaced last August when a heavy rainstorm filled the former administration building with three feet of water, seriously damaging the complex.
Renovated and renamed the Hendrickson Park Community Center, the build re-opened in August and seniors were able to go back about two weeks ago once all the new furniture arrived.
“We love this place,” said Mary Birbiglia, a resident of Valley stream for 40 years. “We’re very happy to be back.”
On a typical afternoon, many members of Silver Threads can be found playing cards and other games in the Community Center’s Lake Room. Birbiglia said it was the view of the lake she missed while over at Firemen’s Field.
Next door, many of the men play poker in Rum Junction, a small card room created from the former office of village Recreation Director Tom Roberts. He and his staff are now housed at Firemen’s Field, where their offices will remain.
Mike Tantillo said he likes that he and his friends have their own room at the Community Center to play cards. At Firemen’s Field, he said the group often wasn’t allowed to play if there was too much else going on. “We’re independent here and that’s what’s great,” he said. “We’ve got our own room. Nobody can bother us.”
Tantillo gave the renovated facility a good review. So did Anne Hogan, a Silver Threads member for the past two years. She likes the colors and the small kitchen available to the seniors, which includes a refrigerator, microwave and coffee machine. “Very nice, very well done,” she said of the building.
Ann Zurlo, a Valley Stream resident for 60 years and a Silver Threads members for decades, also is glad to be back at Hendrickson Park, mostly for convenience. “I live right around the corner,” she said, adding that she enjoys playing games with her many friends in the group.
Like Zurlo, Mary Mackie is glad to be back at the Community Center because it is much closer to her home.
Terry Kaszubski, a member of Silver Threads for 20 years, said she was thankful that the Firemen’s Field Clubhouse was available to serve as the temporary home of Silver Threads while the renovations were being completed at Hendrickson Park. But that didn’t squelch her desire to return.
“I missed it very much,” she said of the Community Center. “It’s like my home away from home. I just felt very comfortable here.”
Like her friends, Kaszubski is impressed with the building, particularly the cleanliness of the whole facility. Arline Massa agreed. “It’s bright, it’s clean,” she said.
The Community Center has five meeting rooms. It used to have only two, however an additional three rooms were created from space that used to house the Recreation Department’s offices. The building has been designed to withstand floods. All of the walls and floors are water resistant, all electrical outlets and appliances are at least three feet off the ground and all furniture is water proof.
Mayor Ed Fare said that it was always his intention to have the seniors return to Hendrickson Park. He said they now have plenty of space to themselves, and there is plenty of room for the Silver Threads program to grow. At a recent welcome back reception for the seniors, he explained the renovation process and the thought that went in to redesigning the 46-year-old building.
Fare said the building will also be used as meeting space for local organizations and other Recreation Department programs. The village board is also considering renting out rooms for conferences or private parties. “That’s why we call it the Community Center,” he said. “It’s so much more multi-functional.”