Main Street News

Help Dover Dive Into Summer – Support the New Rec Center Referendum

By Published On: May 31st, 2024

Splash into summer and enjoy the ample activities throughout the area available for individuals and families alike, as well as the many events ideal for friends hoping to connect. Whether one wants to head to New York’s Hudson Valley, Connecticut’s Northwest Corner, or Massachusetts’s Berkshire Foothills it matters not, for there’s no shortage of choices during this time of year. 

One place worth checking out is the northwest Dutchess County town of Dover. About half an hour south of Millerton along Route 22 and about two and a half hours north of NYC via the Metro-North Railroad’s Harlem Valley line from Grand Central Station, Dover has a robust recreational program despite its lack of a rec center. Its indoor programs are held at Dover High School off Route 22; the majority of its outdoor programs are held at Boyce Park in the hamlet of Dover Plains (located within town lines). 

Dover Plains’ 2020 US Census counted 1,322 residents, while the town of Dover had 8,415 respond. Dover is one of the Harlem Valley’s larger towns. Just to compare, the town of North East’s 2020 Census count clocked in at 2,971, and the village of Millerton (located within the town of North East) had 903 respondents.  

The Dover Town Board wants to build a recreation center to provide for its population, as well as those living nearby. A $9 million public referendum will be on the ballot this July in hopes of making that a reality.

A robust program and Dover Day

Despite its lack of a centralized recreational facility, Dover already offers an extensive rec program. Programs expand exponentially during the summer, coming to a peak with Dover Day. This year, Dover Day is set for Saturday, September 21. It promises to be a day full of family, festivities, and fun. Everyone is invited, said Recreation Director Julie Muncey.

Muncey took over the Dover Recreation Department three years ago following former rec director Teri Ptasnick’s retirement after 25 years of helming the department. Muncey lives and breathes all things recreation. As Ptasnick’s former secretary, she knows the department inside and out, and said she was thrilled to step into her mentor’s shoes, though sad to see Ptasnick leave. 

Muncey said she’s happy to spend her days planning and plotting how best to entertain Dover residents and ensure they thrive — physically and mentally — whether they’re tiny toddlers ready to romp around the playground, kooky kiddoes enjoying Kite Day, crazy classmates seeking adventure at day camp, active adults challenging their buddies on the basketball court, sassy seniors ready to kick up their heels line dancing, or frenzied friends needing a night out at the Summer Concert Series. It matters not, said Muncey, who just loves planning the perfect activity. 

The need for a rec center

Muncey noted if voters approve the referendum for the recreation center, it would make her job easier and the town’s recreation program better. “I personally think that they should approve it, because right now we are at the mercy of the school, and if we need to run inside activities and there are schedule conflicts, whatever we have scheduled we are normally bumped out,” explained Muncey. “We can use that new space to bring in more activities and projects.”

She further added that “right now we are 100% in the school except for day camp.” Only the town’s outdoor activities are held at the Boyce Park pavilion. 

“One thing with a rec center, anything you do outside you can do inside – we celebrate Easter, Christmas, Dover Day,” said Muncey. “We can bring some of those events inside. Obviously, we’ll need rain dates, but having a facility would allow us to host everything in Boyce Park. Muncey added that municipal basketball is played twice a week during November through March in Dover High School, but obviously the high school practice and game schedule “comes first,” which she said is understandable. 

“If they have to cancel, we reschedule. Our games are January through March, and we are in there Saturdays from 7:30am to 3:30pm. We’ve had to cancel games, so we only get to do  two games in January, two games in February, and in March maybe three games,” said Muncey. “It’s just hard scheduling, and it plays into other programs; soccer is in the winter, and baseball is in the spring. We’re always fighting for space. That’s the biggest thing – we would like to have our own facility, and then 95% of all our recreation would be in that building. The summer theater program would still be in the school because it has a beautiful auditorium. If we had our own facility, we could actually be open from 8am to 8 at night, and it would not just be paid programs. We would also provide free open gym time, free senior programs, a bathroom, big storage, a teen center, and hopefully a room in there to rent out.”

The referendum

Muncey explained the proposal that’s currently before the public might not be the final project line, but it gives a sense of what the town would like and puts it before the public to garner support, which is essential for the rec center to become a reality.

“It’s a vote. If people don’t want it, it’s dead in the water. If people do want it, we can move forward,” she said. “We’re going for $9 million. The original price was $7.7 million, but we upped it 15% because there is always something that happens.”

The town also thought it was worth adding bleachers, solar panels, radiant heating, and a generator big enough for the entire 12-13,000-square-foot building to the proposal.

“If it gets approved for $9 million then we have $9 million and we can work within that,” noted Muncey. “We can’t go over $9 million, nor can we change or add to that. It would be a hard limit.”

The project would be funded through a 30-year bond. “Broken down, the project would increase each property owner’s annual taxes by about $12.75 per $100,000 of property value for the 30-year bond.  That’s a happy meal or a coffee and a bagel at this point I think that’s how people have to see it. Yes, your taxes will go up, and it will show on your tax receipt that you’re paying this much more per month, but I try to break it down so residents can get the idea,” said Muncey. “We’re trying to be as transparent as possible, not hiding anything. That’s why the number is $9 million; everyone is aware of the cost over a 30-year period.”

Muncey said she doesn’t give that example “glibly,” as she understands that Dover is a “low to middle income community” but added that if residents approve the referendum they’d be “giving something back.” She said while not all programs can be free, the town offers as much as it can as affordably as possible, though it must run paid programs to cover the cost of day camp and other activities, and it works hard to offer open gym, free movies, bonfires, Kite Day, holiday celebrations, and of course, Dover Day.

Much more than just hoops

The Recreation Director emphasized that the rec center would serve as more than just a place to shoot hoops. It could be a location for farmers markets, a heating and cooling center, a meeting hall, a place for arts festivals, and even an event rental hall or a catering hall to help the town earn some extra income.

“In the long run it’s going to benefit not just us now but the kids and the community in the future. Our grandchildren and great-great grandchildren can use this facility and hopefully add on to make it bigger and better as the town’s needs grow,” she said. “We have to start somewhere, and this has been in process for years and years and years. I think it will be a huge, great thing.”

The referendum will be Saturday, July 27, at Dover Town Hall, from 10am to 4pm. It was purposefully scheduled for a Saturday so voters won’t have a work conflict when heading to the polls.

Originally the vote was set for March, but because Dover wanted to be lead agency in the environmental review, the date was delayed. But getting more time to garner public support has not been a bad thing, said Muncey, who pointed out that many improvements have been made at both Boyce Park and Ketcham Park in the meantime.

Dover Recreation assistant Paula Holmes said both parks, which are town operated, maintained, and open from dawn to dusk, seem to be experiencing an uptick in usership and appreciation. “We have added a walking track with exercise equipment stations, and we do run a program called Kiddy Corral for younger kids. I see people using that track every time I go,” she said. “Last week I saw two people walking the track with a cart pushing younger children. I’ve seen seniors who participated in our balance program up there and afterwards, though it wasn’t part of the program, they said, ‘Since we’re here let’s go walk around the track a couple of times.’ I’ve seen people posting on Facebook about using our exercise equipment. The Dover playground is great, people can bring their kids to play. Anybody can use it.”

Maintenance and more

As far as the condition of the town’s facilities, Holmes said she has no complaints, nor does she receive many complaints. “We have pails throughout the grounds, and our crew are there numerous times during the week to clean up any garbage. We also maintain the Stone Church garbage bins, and we have dog waste stations throughout both places. Dogs are allowed as long as they’re on a leash and don’t go to the playgrounds or athletic fields because we don’t want them on soccer fields if people are playing. A lot of people come to Boyce Park and walk their dogs.”

Like Muncey, Holmes seems to thoroughly enjoy figuring out how to keep those who make use of Dover’s recreation programs fulfilled. She acknowledged it’s not always easy getting today’s youth to take part in simple play. When asked if youngsters play like they did generations ago, Holmes paused and then chuckled. “No, not compared to when I was growing up,” she said. “We had a call yesterday from a lady who was running the Little League asking if we had any restrictions on the field because she heard schools were not letting kids outside to play because of gypsy moth caterpillars and allergic reactions. We live in the country; there are bugs all over the place, but we of course want our kids to be able to go outside and play. We have four different posts on the town page about caterpillars.”

They have adult rec programs, too

She was excited to address the adult recreation program, including the senior program at Dover’s American Legion Hall on Thursdays, line dancing every Monday morning, and a fitness program on Thursday mornings. The town also has about a half dozen day trips planned this summer through October ending with German Fest. 

Seniors have already visited Lake George as well as Mohegan Sun Casino. The trips vary in price, and a $5 tip is asked for the bus driver. Dover seniors are given preference if tickets are made available to area seniors. A day trip to Silver Birches in Pennsylvania is planned for summer’s end. Call the recreation office at (845) 832-9168 or go to for details. 

Both Holmes and Muncey said it’s worth marking the summer concert series on the calendar. Holmes personally knows the first band to play – New Desperation, a blues-rock, country band. “It’s always good to see a friend,” she said, encouraging locals to catch the show, held underneath the pavilion rain or shine. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring a blanket or chair, snacks, marshmallows for a bonfire, and the entire family.

“It will be a good time for all,” said Holmes. 

The two-hour summer concerts will take place on Fridays and Saturdays  for a six-week period during the summer starting between 6 and 6:30pm at Boyce Park in Dover. Again, check for details.

The pinnacle of the summer will be Dover Day on Saturday, September 21. The town is seeking donations, large or small, for the annual event. •

To chip in, visit Donations to Dover Recreation are tax deductible with reference to Federal Tax ID# 14-6002160. Request donor acknowledgement letters by emailing Donation checks and money orders may also be mailed to Dover Recreation, 126 E. Duncan Hill Road, Dover Plains, NY 12522.