LAKE GEORGE - For years, Raymond Chandler and Walter Marinelli worked on constructing recreational facilities and providing activities for area youth.
Saturday, they were honored for their years of work and leadership, as about 100 local citizens gathered to dedicate facilities in their names.
Lake George Village and Town officials were joined by the joint Town-Village Youth Commission in honoring Chandler and Marinelli, both deceased, who contributed so much to the communities' youth activities and the village's recreation complex, Village Mayor Robert Blais said.
A ballfield was dedicated to Chandler and a new refreshment stand was named for Marinelli.
Families of both men were present for the ceremonies, conducted on site.
The 340-acre recreation complex, located off Route 9N on Transfer Rd., features three baseball diamonds, a soccer field, a football field, 12 kilometers of cross-country ski trails, a winter tubing hill, public restrooms and a children's play area.
The concept to transform the Town's former landfill and Village property into the multi-use area was conceived by a committee comprised of Marinelli, Blais, Neil McPhillips and Michael Lanfear. Much of the work was accomplished by Village and Town forces with a grant from the state Department of Parks & Recreation.
Saturday's ball-diamond dedication honored Raymond Chandler, long-time Lake George Elementary School teacher, coach and past director of the Lake George Youth Commission. Ray devoted much of his life to young people and was responsible for the growth of the Lake George Youth Commission along with former director Don Corsetti, Blais said.
McPhillips said that Marinelli had devised and organized a slew of events that raised a considerable sum, leveraging state grants to make the Recreation Complex a reality. It was very appropriate, he said, that the concession stand was now known as "Wally's Hut."
"The Recreation Complex is a treasure and very, very important to the community," McPhillips said, adding that Chandler was a great influence on children.
"It's a large loss to Lake George with both of them gone now," he said. "They were wonderful people dedicated to the village and town of Lake George."
Mayor Blais also said that for many years, the two men were icons in the community.
"The dedications Saturday reflect the importance of Ray Chandler and Walt Marinelli had in accomplishing the quality of life we enjoy in Lake George," Blais said. "Particularly their contributions to the youth of the community."
Lake George Town Supervisor Frank McCoy agreed.
"There couldn't be a more fitting tribute for these men," he said, turning his focus to Chandler. "Ray was the ultimate public servant - he designed programs to enhance kids' self esteem."
Town Board member Vinnie Crocitto recalled how Chandler would challenge all the youth program participants to beat him at ping-pong, and he'd take anyone on while reading a newspaper, yet still beat them, to the children's delight.
"Ray would play ping-pong with a newspaper in one hand and a paddle in the other," Crocitto recalled. "He was very creative in devising activities that would get kids involved, make them feel special and get them to believe in themselves."
He said that area youth were very fortunate to have experienced his leadership and friendship.
"Ray was a very special person, and the community was lucky to have him."