NEW HAVEN — A number of New Haven recreational facilities are now known as the “Claflin Bend Area Community Center Complex,” following a name dedication ceremony on Wednesday.
Robert and Louise Claflin Foundation President Stephen Littlepage and foundation secretary Gary Fields attended the ceremony, along with New Haven Mayor Greg Kaylor, town officials, and members of the municipal pool committee.
Included under the new Claflin complex umbrella are the pool, Bend Area Community Center, and adjacent tennis and basketball courts. The name change came after the Claflin Foundation has provided over $60,000 in grant money to the town, much of it being for recreation.
Grant funds were used most recently to repair the pool floor, where crumbling concrete was causing the pool to leak. The repair enabled the town to open the facility this summer, allowing free swimming for all.
Fields, a resident of New Haven, said he is proud of what is happening there, and thanked the mayor, town workers and officials, pool committee members, and others. He said the foundation exists to help with projects in the entire county, and foundation members like to see anything bearing the Claflin name be successful.
Fields said he hopes the complex will be a gathering place for events such as horseshoe pitching, cornhole, foul shooting championships, as well as lighted Christmas tree displays, arts and crafts, photography shows and others. He added a vinyl sign will soon be erected on the site to tell people “you have arrived,” when coming to the complex.
Littlepage concurred, and said he hopes someone with community spirit will take the position of building director, that is now being advertised on the town website. He noted the various activities will be a way to draw people in the future.
Sitting under the shade of the newly erected shelter on the pool grounds, those attending reminisced on the late Claflin couple, who were residents of New Haven, as well as their own memories of swimming and roller skating at the complex. Pool committee member Phyllis Arthur said many residents remember the Claflins and that Robert never owned a car. She said he rode his bike to work and saved his money.
Arthur said it was fellow pool committee member Alice Humphreys who suggested free swimming at the pool, after attendance began to wane. She said the pool manager at the time, Bernita Allen, had lowered admission to $2, but children could still not afford to go daily.
“It was a matter of trying to save the pool, and giving kids the opportunity to come for free,” Arthur added.
Humphreys added the pool must be one of the oldest in the state. It was built in the late 1930’s as part of the Works Progress Administration (later changed in 1939 to Works Projects Administration).
Littlepage said the foundation loves working on collaborative projects. He added though the Claflins were modest people, getting publicity and recognition for the foundation projects is a way to allow more people to learn of the foundation, and apply for and receive grants.
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Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at [email protected]