How parks and recreation bring Sweden and Clarkson together
By: Jon Miller, Hannah Arp and Jared Rosenberg
SWEDEN, NY- When it comes to small towns like Sweden, parks and recreation is a crucial part of the socialization and physical activity for the residents.
Jill Wisnowski has been with the Sweden Clarkson Community Center ever since it opened in 2002, working her way up the ladder from a part-time clerk. Her position now, as the recreation director, “keeps her busy.” She’s responsible for organizing and scheduling the dozens of activities and events held all year round at the community center and at the town park.
Although she is passionate about the community center, it is not easy to find the funds to support it.
“We cost a lot of money, we bring in about $240,000 a year in revenue, but I need about $700,000 to run the building,” Wisnowski said. “We need tax dollars, I need full time staff with degrees and people to be organized and on time.”
Wisnowski has come to terms with the fact that her employees will never see more than a 2% annual raise.
“We wouldn’t do this unless we loved it,” she said. “None of us are in it for the money.”
The community center offers opportunities for people of all ages. Wisnowski says socialization is important for the mental health of the large elderly population in the town.
“People don’t understand how important recreation is. Behind psychology is recreation,” says Wisnowski. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 1 or 101, we need to be busy.”
Miguel Quiñones recently immigrated to Brockport from Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. He found the village and the park through work.
“The first time I came to Brockport, I just called my wife and said, ‘I just wanna stay here,’” said Quiñones.
For his family, the Sweden Town Park has become a regular destination.
“We come here a couple times a week. My daughter loves the water,” said Quiñones.
Janet Johnson, a long-time resident of Brockport, has been coming to the Sweden Town Park for over ten years. Her favorite area is the dog park. She shuttles her three small dogs and her friend’s larger dog to the park multiple times a week.
“The dogs socialize with other dogs… And, the dog owners socialize with other dog owners. There’s a morning group, a late morning group, an afternoon group, a dinner group… they’re always here depending on what their day looks like,” said Johnson.
The dog park houses two different areas, one for big dogs and another for small dogs and a man-made pool area that is cleaned weekly. The park was constructed four years ago, and serves as an informal meeting ground for the town’s dog lovers.
“There’s a large core of people who show up, but it’s funny. We all know the dogs’ names but we don’t know each other’s,” says Johnson.
In order to gain access to the Sweden Dog Park and the many other dog parks across Monroe County, owners must register their dogs annually with the Monroe County Parks Department and pay a $24 fee per dog.
As fall approaches, there will be activities and programs for the residents (and their four-legged friends) of Sweden and the surrounding towns.
For more information, contact the Sweden Clarkson Community Center.