Updated 08/09/2012 05:51 PM
Raising money for the Sampone Explorer's Park
Amsterdam residents are continuing to work to create safe places for their kids to go. As YNN's Maria Valvanis explains, one empty lot will soon be a neighborhood gathering spot.
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AMSTERDAM, N.Y. -- "My father was always great to the kids. I hope he'd be proud," said John Sampone Jr.
The John Sampone Sr. Memorial Committee is raising funds to turn an empty south side lot into the Sampone Explorer's Park, giving young kids in the city a place to swing, slide and smile.
"We have some nice green space, some nice park benches, new modern equipment," said Sampone.
"It will be city owned, but it will be a lovely collaboration between the founders of the park and youth groups in the city," said Ann Thane, Mayor of Amsterdam.
Youth groups, like the Amsterdam Police Explorers, who were first established in Sampone's memory when he passed away 16 years ago.
"They'll be helping out with the park with maintaining it, cleaning up and having a presence at the park," said Detective Lieutenant Kurt Conroy of the Amsterdam Police Department.
Though the committee has the support of the city and volunteers, they are still in need of finances. The entire park will cost upwards of $40,000, but after the recent loss of two city youth, community members say a safe place for kids to go is priceless.
"There was a moment of tragic circumstance and then there has been weeks of response and support and fundraising and planning."
"Anything for the kids to get involved," said Conroy.
The park will be built in Sampone's memory, but his son still found ways for it to recognize others in the community.
"We can actually raise money by putting bricks in the walkway. That will help give memory to a lot of the families in the south side," said Sampone.
The committee is waiting to hear back on two grant applications, but if all goes as planned, the park will be up and running by next summer.
Donations for the park can be sent to the John A. Sampone Sr. Memorial Fund at First Niagara Bank, 4773 State Highway 30 North, Amsterdam.