Science Center Planned for Duanesburg

May 3, 2017


DELANSON -- Plans to build a science and technology center next to the Duanesburg YMCA will be discussed at a meeting Thursday evening at the YMCA.


The Schoharie Mohawk Initiative for Science and Technology has acquired a 1-acre site for the center next to the YMCA. The initiative's board of directors will host the public meeting, which will start at 6 p.m., to discuss the plans.


"We are in the beginning stages of deciding what the scope of the facility will be," said Walter Silva, of Duanesburg, co-founder and president of the initiative. "We're  trying to see what the community wants.


The non-profit organization was established in 2014, with the goal of creating a community center that would be focused on promoting STEM disciplines -- science, technology, engineering and math. The group wants to encourage participation in programs like First LEGO League and SeaPerch, the latter being a program that helps students develop underwater robotic systems.


Silva, an electrical engineering manager at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Niskayuna, said the idea grew out of his work with his daughter's fourth-grade class at Duanesburg Elementary School in 2013 and has developed into STEM-focused programs that are now being offered at the YMCA. Between 60 and 80 students are involved in the program at the YMCA.


'We (he and his daughter's fourth-grade teacher) both felt it was something that would benefit the community but also benefit both organizations," Silva said.


Members of the initiative's nine-member board come from the Duanesburg-Delanson area and also from the Schenectady area and Schoharie County, Silva said. One is also a YMCA employee, Silva said. Everyone involved in the effort is a volunteer.


The land next to the YMCA was purchased with a donation from Ken Romanski, one of the YMCA leaders.


"The space we have a the Y, we're outgrowing the space," Silva said. "We already have a strong relationship with the Y, and hopefully we can build off that."


The YMCA, at one point, considered buying the parcel to build a 12,000-square-foot building, and Silva said something of a similar size would be what the initiative is considering.


Until it is clearer what would be in the building, Silva said it is too soon to say what the cost would be or what fundraising goals are.


He said facilities for woodworking, metalworking and 3-D printing are all under consideration, as is an internet cafe, since the Delanson-Duanesburg area generally has low levels of high-speed internet access. Access to music and video editing equipment has also been discussed.


"These are things we have talked about -- and as we go out and survey the community -- as far as what we want to do," Silva said.


Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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