Proposed Five Rivers work would endanger CCC buildings

Local groups protesting expansion on historic grounds

The Fiver Rivers Environmental Education Center in the Town of New Scotland was founded on the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps, but a proposal to better the facilities there would also erase the remaining physical traces of the Corps Camp.

The Town Boards of New Scotland and Bethlehem, along with the New Scotland Historical Association, are formally calling for other plans that would not impact the two remaining structures of CCC Camp S-72.

There used to be a whole complex of buildings over there but most of them have now been removed, said New Scotland Town Historian Bob Parmenter, a member of the New Scotland Historical Association. "There is quite a bit of local history involved with that."

Using a private grant, the Department of Environmental Conservation is aiming to replace the building used for the Guided School Program with a new, modern structure.

"We anticipate construction will start this spring on the Five Rivers project, and that construction would end this fall," said Maureen Wren, a DEC spokeswoman.

She added the historical significance of the CCC buildings in being taken into consideration, and a final decision has not yet been reached on how those buildings will play into the final design.

The state Conservation Department (the precursor to the DEC) purchased the roughly 400-acre preserve from struggling farmers in 1933, and for three years CCC workers lived and worked there to prepare the area for game farming. The remaining buildings were once used as a maintenance shop and barracks.

In addition to local governments and groups, Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, and Assemblyman John McEneny, D-Albany, are in favor of preserving the buildings, said Pam Dorgan, president of the NSHA, who made it clear her organization is not against the expansion.

"We're very much in favor of a new education center," she said. "With a slight movement, I don't see why we can't have both."

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