CELORON - It has been a year since Scott Schrecengost became the Celoron mayor after the passing of former Mayor John "Jack" Keeney last March. The Post-Journal sat down with Schrecengost to discuss how his time as mayor has gone, and where he hopes to take Celoron in the future.
When Keeney passed away on March 9, 2013, Schrecengost - then deputy mayor - said whoever became the next mayor would have "big shoes" to fill following Keeney. Keeney was credited with setting the gears into motion for turning Celoron from a stale and negative community into a more active and positive one, according to Schrecengost.
"(Keeney) had a vision of bringing this village back around. So when I took over, we stayed on the same path," Schrecengost said. "We just had to change the outlook on the whole community."
Celoron Mayor Scott Schrecengost stands in front of the new ramp of the community center — a testament to the positive change in attitude in the community.
P-J photo by Mallory Diefenbach
Schrecengost said he and the board are still working to improve the properties and the waterfront of the village.
"Celoron used to be a real booming community due to the park," Schrecengost said, referring to the Celoron Amusement Park which was constructed in 1893 and ran until 1962. "There were all kinds of plans to restructure - it was just a vision for what everyone has started working towards, and what we are going to continue working towards for improvements."
As part of this vision, in December, the village received a grant from the Regional Economic Development Council in the form of $82,845. The grant will be going toward building a board walk along the lake, a canoe/kayak boat launch and updating the code book. The construction will take place along the north shore of the park, starting next to an existing public dock and boat launch, running 415 feet to the east along the shoreline, and will be 8 feet wide. The board walk will be made out of concrete, but will be patterned to look like a wooden board walk. In the future, he hopes to construct a board walk around the baseball field that would connect with the current board walks which loop through the park.
Celoron is also looking into applying for the Community Development Block Grant funds through the New York State Office of Community Renewal to assist low and moderate income homeowners in the village with home repairs. Using CDBG funds, the village provides grants to eligible homeowners for necessary repairs such as roofs, windows, furnaces, insulation, electrical upgrades and more.
"We are trying to bring a positive attitude in people. Once you get stagnant, nobody wants to take pride in their property," Schrecengost said. "They are just here. That is what we are trying to change."
He feels like this change in outlook has been coming along well, but nothing is fast. However, the change in attitude of the villagers can be seen, especially with the construction of the handicap ramp of the community center.
"We redid the handicap ramp on the community center. We also had a contractor come in and donate their time to help finish that up," Schrecengost said. "We even had volunteers from the community to come down and put an hour or two here and there. We never had that before. It just shows a positive turn-around."
Schrecengost continues to look toward the future for Celoron. The old Celoron Amusement Park property is in the process of being sold, and he hopes it will bring small businesses and more housing down in the village.
"I think once that comes in, then the rest of that lakefront is developed and will be a huge improvement to Celoron," he said.
The board is also looking into replacing the 25-30-year-old trucks and purchasing a new plow truck. Schrecengost said the reason they felt this year would be the best year to replace the trucks was because their fiscal stress score was 3.3 percent, as opposed to most other Western New York villages which hover in the area of 40 percent fiscal stress, according to the Local Government and School Accountability Fiscal Stress Monitoring System.
He said the board is also looking to put security cameras in the park to prevent the vandalism which keeps happening every year and redid the code book - which is now up on the Internet.
"That was a lot of work," Schrecengost said in reference to the code book. "With the help of our clerks, you know, can't say enough about them. They've been great. They've done a lot of this work for us - made it easy for us to claim, but they've actually done the work. They need credit for it too."
He said there is enough to keep him busy, and that Keeney had made the Celoron mayor a full-time job and he is "just trying to pick up the pieces." Schrecengost said being the mayor is about doing what is best for everybody, but you can't please everyone.
"It's kind of like putting a puzzle together," he said in regards to what hey enjoys most about being the mayor. "You see the improvements coming along and you see it building. It's real."