Supervisor Bill Reilich lived in his hometown of Greece, New York, long before he rose to its highest position of governance. He went to Greece public schools, rode bikes in the town’s streets and cultivated a deep love for the tiny upstate enclave. He established his first business in Greece (a home alarm/security company), learning the ropes of how to successfully lead his almost 60 employees. After years of feeling professionally, and personally, responsible for the safety of his clients and neighbors, Reilich felt the call to public service. Now, as Supervisor of Greece, Reilich is finally in a position to make positive, lasting changes that benefit his community, including a wholesale facelift of the town’s parks and recreation facilities. “I recognize parks add a great opportunity for recreation in this day and age when we’re looking for things to do out in our community,” Reilich says. “Parks are a way to provide something for everyone — a spray park for the youngest, pickleball for seniors, pavilions for everyone to enjoy — something for every segment.”
Before taking the helm of Greece’s affairs, Reilich served 11 years as the Member of Assembly for the 134th district, including the towns of Greece, Ogden and Parma. He was overwhelmingly elected to serve as Supervisor of Greece in 2013 and was sworn into office January 1, 2014. Eighteen months later, Reilich can boast an impressive roster of park- and recreation-related accomplishments. He updated Greece’s outdated Parks Master Plan, hired Peter O’Brien as Greece’s first Director of Parks and Recreation and got the ball rolling on several projects. “Bill is putting quality of life at the forefront for the residents of Greece,” O’Brien says.
Thus far, this new standard of quality includes a new park lodge at Braddock Bay Park (a 375-acre park within the 3,000-acre Braddock Bay Fish and Wildlife Management area), revitalization of a 37,000-square-foot community and senior center, and construction of a state-of-the-art entertainment pavilion on Town Hall campus, six pickleball-only courts, and an almost 5,000-square-foot splashpad and spraypark (the region’s largest).
Give ’Em What They Want
Of the above-mentioned amenities, pickleball and the giant splashpad have received the most community accolades. “We heard from residents that they wanted to see pickleball,” Reilich explains. “We already had [the courts], but they cohabitated with our tennis courts. So, on our Town Hall campus — which consists of the hall, our senior center, library, courthouse and police station — we added six courts exclusively for pickleball. We’re in the process of adding lights so during the winter months we can offer ice skating for residents.”
The younger set in Greece is beyond excited about their new splashpad, opened this summer. “It’s the largest spraypark in the area,” Reilich says. “It’s something for younger residents to enjoy. It has an animal theme, plantings — almost a Disney aspect to it.” Demand for the feature was also robust among the community’s voting population — “Our Parks Master Plan included a survey, and the overwhelming response was that residents wanted a spraypark. Two or three surrounding towns have them and we did not, so people had to drive 30 minutes [to the nearest one]. Why, when there could be one right down the road?”
As of press time, perhaps the most buzz-creating recreational event in Greece had yet to take place, but this writer would wager Reilich’s “Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration” went off with a major bang. For the past decade, a local church hosted the town’s Independence Day festivities, but “it was overwhelming for them,” Reilich explains. “They needed lots of volunteers and it became too much. When that ended [in 2014], I said we should [host a celebration] as a town…let’s bring it to the town, do it on Town Hall property and have fireworks, bands — all free to the community. It’s something that brings us back together to meet our neighbors and have a great time.”
We’re just scratching the surface of what Reilich has planned for Greece’s parks and public spaces. Environmental restoration projects, playground overhauls, scouting plans to build a new lodge, acquisition of additional parkland and reclamation of a nearby marina are already underway. Down the line, Reilich envisions a sledding hill, dugouts at all the town’s baseball fields and so much more. “We’ll continue to look at our parks and make improvements,” he says. “We’re taking our parks and tweaking what we have to keep up with trends and the needs of our citizens.
“There are not a lot of things for free things in this world, but parks are something people can go to and enjoy for free. That’s why I’m a big supporter.”
Samantha Bartram is the Executive Editor of Parks & Recreation magazine.