Community

Somers Celebrates 50 years of Reis Park

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SOMERS, N.Y. – The Somers Library and Somers Historical Society joined forces Saturday, April 29, to throw a celebration in honor of the park’s benefactor, Carolyn Wright Reis, who donated her 82-acre farmstead to the town of Somers in 1967 to be used for recreational and educational purposes.

At the time, the town had no recreational facilities and just a tiny library, said Grace Zimmermann, first vice president of the Somers Historical Society.

Now, the site is home to the Somers Library, Reis Park and the Wright Reis Homestead, and has become a significant gathering place that provides the community many educational and recreational opportunities, just as Wright Reis intended when she left the park to the town, officials said.

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Tara Ferretti, young adult librarian at Somers Library, said the event was thought up by herself, Zimmermann and librarian Valerie Herman “over a lot of cups of coffee.” She additionally thanked all of the supporters of the event.

Outside of the Somers Library were story readings, arts and crafts, the Somers Library’s story walk and more. In Reis Park, Scott Urgola and Fred Gillen Jr. performed and there was a meet and greet with local authors by the picnic tables.

The historical society honored Wright Reis with a display at the homestead, a visit from some farm animals from Muscoot Farm, and a display of old farm equipment outside of the Somers Library.

Raffle drawings and a cake-cutting ceremony took place in the afternoon. Members of the Somers Library Foundation and Friends of Somers Library were also there to accept proclamations and to cut the cake.

The Friends of the Somers Library auctioned off a quilt donated by Somers High School student Michelle Kushner. Kushner created the blanket as part of her Gold Award project with the Girl Scouts. In addition to creating the blanket, she ran children’s programs at the library. Susan Berkow, president of the Friends of the Somers Library, said all proceeds will go toward the purchase of children’s books for the library.

Several town and county officials made it out for the event, including Frank Lombardi on behalf of Sen. Terrence Murphy, County Legislator Francis Corcoran and the Somers Town Board.

Though Sen. Murphy could not attend, he sponsored a resolution, which was read into the Senate’s record on April 25 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the park, said Lombardi.

Corcoran said a few words on behalf of the County Board of Legislators.

“Her commitment to her community, just like that of the trustees and volunteers and folks that are here supporting here today show what one person can do not to just change a community but the citizens within it,” Corcoran said.

He recognized what the community has made of the park and dedicated April 29, 2017, as “Reis Park Day” in Westchester County.

“Thank you for all the good work that you do in continuing the work that [Caroline Wright Reis] wanted in her memory,” he said.

Additionally, Town Supervisor Rick Morrissey proclaimed April 29, 2017, as “Reis Park Day” in the town of Somers and praised the organizations that run the park and organized the event.

The event was made possible with funding from Westchester Library System’s mini-grant initiative supported by Entergy and Con Edison. Additional support was provided by the Friends of the Somers Library, Somers Library Foundation, Somers Custom Framing Shop and Somers Historical Society.

According to the historical society, Wright Reis ran the farm successfully during her life. The farm was left to her by her father, Samuel, when she was orphaned at the age of 12, and rented to tenant farmers in the intervening years until her return to Somers in 1912. The farm included both apple and pear orchards, vegetable, herb and flower gardens and a small poultry and dairy operation.

Additionally, she was a prominent member of the community that donated her time and money to several community organizations and businesses.

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