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Proposed Five Rivers work would endanger CCC buildings

Bethlehem Supervisor Sam Messina said a copy of the Town Board's resolution has been forwarded to DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis, and he similarly expressed his hope a win-win situation can be achieved at Five Rivers.

"They were CCC buildings, and they're important to members of this community," he said. "[The expansion] can go forward and not be impacted on history or the presence of these buildings."

The Guided School Program is run by a volunteer staff of teachers, who provide lessons to about 6,000 kids per year, said Friends of Five Rivers President Richard Bader.

"In the past 20 years, we've probably had contact with 200,000 students," he said.

The program is run by FFR, an independent citizen organization, out of the Goose Lodge, and the program has long since outgrown those facilities, said Bader.

"We think the partnership that we're working on with DEC to provide a 21st century building for providing lessons to children is an important thing," he said.

The upgrade would be covered by a $500,000 donation from the Repass family of Massachusetts, directed through FFR. Wendy Repass Suozzo was a longtime educator at Fiver Rivers.

The need to replace the visitor's center and school program building was broached in a 2007 Office of General Services study that found the Goose Lodge and visitor's center should be replaced with LEED-certified structures, said Craig Thompson, director of Five Rivers.

"They were not intended for the uses to which we're putting them right now," he said. "Basically, they're just plain old, and energy inefficient, as well."

He added officials from the DEC and state parks department are studying the CCC structures and will be making a judgment on their historical significance.

The new Guided School building would include many "green" features, including solar panels and a green roof. Recycled materials would be used to the greatest extent possible, and visiting classes could learn about these building techniques through interpretive signage, according to the DEC.""

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