By RUSSELL JONES
PITTSFORD — The Pittsford Recreation Area is a gem and in a class of its own among area towns. The area is home to two baseball fields, a softball field, basketball and tennis courts, an 18-hole disc golf course and a swimming hole.
The recreation area is also the beginning of a number of trails that make up the Pittsford Trail Network. The Pittsford Recreation Department also holds hundreds of activities throughout the year for area children.
With temperatures heating up this month, the swimming hole has been very popular.
“We have 65 kids from the RNESU tapestry program here today,” Pittsford rec director Randy Adams said this past Friday. “They get to swim or splash around; it helps cool you down on a hot day.”
The rec department offers swimming lessons for children each summer, the last lessons of the summer started on July 29. Each session lasts for two weeks and run for 25 minutes. The rec department keeps two lifeguards on duty while the area is open.
“We open the gates every day at 10, even in the winter,” Adams said. “The pond is about 80 to 90 percent spring fed so it keeps it nice and cool.”
Adams said they are working on the final designs of a lifeguard shelter they will begin construction on soon.
In addition to the swimming hole, the department offers a number of camps for area kids.
“We have six 1-week day camp sessions,” the rec director explained, adding that they are “on the fourth session, now.”
During those sessions, the kids are grouped with staff and junior counselors as they are led through various activities, from swimming to basketball and even a talent show.
“The day camp is very popular,” Adams said. “Last week we held a senior luncheon under the pavilion with 63 seniors and 27 day camp kids. It was great.”
During the school year, local afterschool programs frequently visit the rec area, with the Tapestry program and Leicester and Neshobe SOAR afterschool programs being three of the more frequent guests.
“The kids get to come out and be active, which is important,” Adams said.
One of the most popular activities at the rec area, Adams said, is pickleball. The sport has a growing roster of players and they use the courts at the rec area two to three times a week.
A good number of the pickleball players are older, but it is gaining popularity with younger players. Tom Browe, who is the coordinator of the weekly pickleball games, is offering lessons for children through the rec department.
For a more traditional game, the department also offers tennis camps for both beginner and intermediate skill levels.
Two of the six trails that make up the Pittsford Trail Network begin at the rec area and wind their way through the local woods. These trails are open to the public free of charge and provide recreational activities such as walking, bird watching, jogging, snowshoeing, hiking and cross-country skiing.
The trails are marked and traverse open fields, meander along rivers and waterfalls, and course through woodlands. The trails have been developed and maintained by volunteers with support of the town, private landowners, and by state grants.
Adams who has been with the rec department since 2001, said this year has been a very good year, including the low number of mosquitos.
“There have been several years where the mosquitos were very bad,” Adams said. “This year it hasn’t been bad. The BLSG has been spraying and it has kept the number of mosquitos very low.”
The department has looked for other ways to help control the bug population, in addition to the spraying. Some local boy scouts installed bat boxes around the rec area to try to encourage bats to make their home in the area. The boxes are hung from trees and painted black with the classic yellow batman symbols on them.
Adams said he works hard to provide programming for the local kids to have fun during the summer and the rest of the year, but he said he couldn’t do it without all the great help he has from the staff.
“Keaton Wright-Chapman does a great job leading the swim lessons,” Adams said, singling out just one of several employees. “We have a really great staff who I depend on to help out.”
Adams said the Pittsford recreation area is such a standout because the town put a concerted effort into making it that way, and the results are paying off.
“One of the things that make the rec area great is the wide diversity of age groups we have that use the area,” Adams said. “From children to seniors, sports to birthday parties, people of all ages come there and have fun.”