Memorial Day ushers in the start of summer. Here in Orange County, we are again without an affordable recreation area in a beautiful setting.

Memorial Day ushers in the start of summer. Here in Orange County, we are again without an affordable recreation area in a beautiful setting.

Many of us have happy memories of taking our children to Crestview Lake for a day of fun with other families and friends. Local folks as well as people from all over Orange County have been using the lake for more than 30 years

Crestview Lake sits on land owned by the New York state Department of Transportation. Over the years, it has been leased out to union Local 445, the Town of New Windsor and Orange County Parks. Recently there has been renewed interest in this one-of-a kind facility.

Crestview Lake is the only swimming and recreational area available for the residents of Orange County. In spite of recent construction on Drury Lane, the lake is in pristine condition. The DOT took me and three other interested women on a tour in November. We were pleasantly surprised at how lovely it looked.

The history of Crestview Lake goes back decades. In February 1975, William Larkin, then supervisor of the Town of New Windsor, was approached by the Stewart Airport Commission to take over the facility. A renewable, three-year lease costing $1 per year was initiated. Parkland funds of $20,000 were designated to maintain the facility. However, because of the overwhelming popularity of the lake and the many family memberships taken out, the money was never needed for Crestview and was used instead to build tennis courts on Union Avenue. More than $17,000 worth of memberships were purchased in the first week they were offered.

A volunteer commission oversaw the facility for more than 20 years. During that time, Crestview Lake not only supported itself but also made a profit. The YWCA and the Orange County Homemakers Service used Crestview Lake as well.

When George Meyers was supervisor of New Windsor, he disbanded the volunteer commission and discontinued family memberships, making the cost of attending on a regular basis prohibitive for the average blue-collar family. The condition of the lake began to decline. There was inadequate staff to keep the beach clean, and the building was neglected. When the announcement was made that the lake would be closed, the people spoke. Petitions were gathered showing widespread support for keeping the lake open. The lake reopened.

Some feel the lake was intentionally allowed to fail in order to promote the building of the Mt. Airy Sports Complex. The people of New Windsor raised their voices again. They gathered petitions and brought the issue before the voters. The bond issue was overwhelmingly defeated. The New Windsor government, then as now, refused to renew the lease, and in 2005, Orange County took over the management of the lake. It was closed for the construction of the Drury Lane interchange.

With the Port Authority currently in negotiations to be the new leaseholder of Stewart Airport, it is imperative that the issue of Crestview Lake be addressed immediately. There is work to be done there on both the building and the dam. The Port Authority has already demonstrated its intention to be a good neighbor to Orange County by retaining the name Stewart Airport. It would be another gesture of neighborliness to incorporate the Crestview Lake recreational facility into Stewart Airport's new master plan.

With Stewart State Forest land on two sides of the lake, it is a truly lovely place with views of the open space. Crestview Lake is the only public recreation facility of this kind in all of Orange County. I hope the Port Authority will seize this opportunity to demonstrate good faith as a new neighbor.

Diane Newlander is from New Windsor.