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Rotary Club’s fitness trail at Thompson Park to get face lift

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People seeking outdoor physical activity soon will be able to use new exercise equipment along the Watertown Noon Rotary Club’s fitness trail in Thompson Park.

Adjacent to the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park, the overgrown trail with missing or broken equipment will undergo its first major overhaul since it was constructed 24 years ago.

“It’s old and outdated, and part of it’s been torn out because it was broken,” said Christine E. Hoffman, chairwoman of the club’s community service committee. “We put in a new pavilion a few years ago. We thought the trail wasn’t a good representation of what Rotary does, so we thought, ‘Let’s make this better.’”

The trail was constructed in 1989 with 17 wooden exercise stations as part of the club’s 75th anniversary. The city of Watertown has maintained the area for more than two decades, but many conditions, including weather, have deteriorated parts of the trail. Some stations are missing, while others are missing signs. Some signs are broken, and many stations are leaning.

Mrs. Hoffman said the organization set aside $6,500 for the project throughout the past three years, but fronted $10,000 to purchase the new brown-and-green, metal-coated equipment. Donations from the following businesses helped the organization collect much of the estimated $35,000 needed to complete the project: Aubertine and Currier Architects, Engineers, & Land Surveyors; McQuade & Bannigan Inc.; the estate of late Rotarian Charles R. Hyde; Northern New York Community Foundation; Watertown Daily Times; Watertown Savings Bank; Hospice of Jefferson County; State Civil Service Employees Federal Credit Union, Samaritan Medical Center and Key Bank.

New World Trail-brand exercise stations purchased from R.E. Woodson Inc., Rochester, will include a leg lift, body curl (sit-ups), parallel bars, beam jump, horizontal loop ladder, push-up station, jump-and-touch, chin-up, vault bar, climbing wall and balance beam.

The trail’s path will be widened from two feet to about eight feet and, instead of gravel, the 13-mile path will be paved. City crews will install the equipment and make path improvements.

The trail’s sign, which is close to the start of the trail near the zoo’s parking lot, will be traded for a new, larger sign complete with a map of the trail and explanation of stations. Mrs. Hoffman said because the trail technically begins in the grassy area by the zoo parking lot, some equipment will be placed there to attract people to the main part of the trail, which is tucked into a small corner of the park.

Sprucing up the trail is something the club has wanted to do for some time, she said, because community service is “what Rotary does.”

“Our motto is ‘Service above self,’” she said. “We do community projects.”

While Rotary is finishing what it started with the fitness trail, Mrs. Hoffman said, with the club’s 100th anniversary coming up next year, a bigger project may be discussed among members.

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