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Local contractor envisions new community center

WARRENSBURG - Local youth and seniors alike may someday have a new social hangout, as a new community center is envisioned for the heart of town.

Local contractor Ed Corlew said this week he hopes to renovate the historic Bonnie Brae barns, which have stood on Main Street for over 140 years, and turn them into a multi-purpose facility that will cater to all ages.

Whether the building would be redeveloped for use as an after-school activity center for teenagers, a home-base for the local Fifty-Plus Club, or a local soup kitchen, Corlew said he's determined to make it happen.

Located next to the well-known Oscar's Smoke House, the barn was once counterpart to a grand villa which burned to the ground in 1980, leaving the barn standing alongside a few other small structures.

Before restoration can begin, however, the matter of funding must be addressed, Corlew said. "This is for the community," he said, "but I'm not Bill Gates."

Corlew continued that he might have to sacrifice his construction business to get the project going. However, he added that he hopes the project will eventually fund itself.

"It's do or die," he said.

Initially, Corlew is seeking to form a community-based plan for the center's development, and for that reason he is ready to form a citizen's advisory committee.

"I have to get people involved and get a lot of input to determine what's needed in town," he said Monday.

He said he's seen the operations of Adirondack Youth Center, which offers various after-school games, basketball, computer instruction, ping-pong and air hockey, as well as meals and special events, in an adult-supervised setting. Such offerings should be available in Warrensburg, he said.

Corlew said that as soon as this summer, he will be seeking able-bodied people to lend a hand in reconstructing the barn.

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