Board gives Dial-A-Ride $1,000, learns about additional NECC projects
AMENIA — After listening to a presentation by Jenny Hansell, the executive director of the North East Community Center, the Amenia Town Board unanimously agreed to give $1,000 to the center’s new Dial-A-Ride program at its Jan. 12 meeting.
The Dial-A-Ride bus began service on Jan. 3 to provide a new public transportation option for residents in Amenia, Dover, North East, Pine Plains, Stanford and Washington. The Northeast Dutchess Transit bus runs eight hours a day, six days a week. The general one-way fare is $3.50, or $1 for seniors and veterans.
Residents may only use the bus once a week, and must book their rides at least three days in advance on a first-come, first-served basis with Transportation Director Justin Svingen. He is a full-time staff member who will get to know residents and help book passengers in groups who may be heading to the same destination.
“We expect patterns will emerge,” Hansell said, giving the example of people taking trips to Walmart every other Friday.
Hansell emphasized that passengers with medical appointments will get first priority on the bus, but noted that the service can also be used to go to a store or visit family and friends. Residents even have the option of subscribing for a weekly ride.
Seventy people registered for the Dial-A-Ride service during the first nine days of operation, with 15 of them residing in Amenia. Hansell said she’d soon like to place a large sign in every town promoting the service.
The NECC obtained several grants for the Dial-A-Ride service, including grants from the Federal Transportation Administration, the Foundation for Community Health in Sharon, the New York Health Foundation, Sisters of Charity in Stanfordville and the Community Foundation of the Hudson Valley.
Each town was also asked to contribute funds for the service. Dover donated $4,000 to the program, while North East supplied $500. Hansell said that Pine Plains and Washington were too far along in their budget process to provide funds this year.
To register or book a ride on the Dial-A-Ride bus, call Svingen at the NECC at 518-789-4259 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More project ideas
Hansell also used the meeting to discuss other possible project ideas with the Amenia Town Board. She mentioned that the Foundation for Community Health would be interested in helping with a service that provides free meals to children in the area over the summer.
“In the Webutuck School District, over 50 percent of students eat the free or reduced lunch,” Hansell said. “What do those kids eat in the summer?”
If enacted, the program would provide free meals to children, no questions asked. The meals could be given out at recreation events.
“We would need to collaborate with the town to get food to the kids,” Hansell said. She suggested cooking the food at an Amenia kitchen and then transporting the meals to both Amenia and North East.
Board member Darlene Riemer said it was a great idea, and noted that the town might be able to get a grant to upgrade the kitchen in Town Hall. Board member Vicki Doyle mentioned that the Presbyterian Church might be a viable option, while Supervisor Bill Flood said Hansell may want to reach out to Maplebrook School.
Hansell also mentioned that she would like to get space at Town Hall for NECC’s programs for toddlers, mothers and teens. A support group for parents is “really a life line for stay-at-home parents,” she said.
An NECC teen program director already works with teens in Amenia to help them set goals, but Hansell said she could work with more if she had a location in Town Hall.
“Most of these programs are on a sliding scale, so they’re almost self-sustainable,” Flood said.
The board members agreed they would need more information before moving forward with these projects.