For the families of three summer camp counselors who died in a car crash nearly four years ago, the opening this weekend of a $6 million indoor recreational facility for people with special needs and dedicated in their memory will be bittersweet.
Michael Mulhall, 22, Jamie Malone, 22, and her sister Paige Malone, 19, all of Floral Park, died on July 15, 2010, after their car crashed into a tree along the Meadowbrook State Parkway in Roosevelt. They were on their way to work at Camp ANCHOR, a Hempstead Town program for the mentally and physically handicapped based in Lido Beach.
"It is bittersweet for us for the loss we felt," said Diane Malone, who reminisced about her two daughters. "We know how much our girls loved being a part of ANCHOR."
Named in memory of the three counselors, the Malone-Mulhall Recreation Center will be unveiled at the camp on Lido Boulevard in Lido Beach during an opening ceremony on Saturday at 11 a.m. The project was funded by the town.
"The last thing I ever wanted was to see my son's name on that building, but you don't always get what you want," Michael's father Neil Mulhall said. "I am thrilled this building is finally complete. It was a dream of the parents of the campers to get this to happen after the accident. The camp was their home away from home for the summer."
The one-floor temperature-controlled recreation center with a wave-curved roof and porthole windows will serve the program's 1,600 participants. The blue-and-white building includes a gymnasium with a stage that also serves as an auditorium, a multipurpose room, a full kitchen, a computer room, administrative offices, a nurse's office and handicapped-accessible restrooms.
"This is the realization of a dream for me and parents of the campers," Town Supervisor Kate Murray said. "Now, we have a permanent beautiful home to serve all the special needs of our campers."
Construction of the 16,196-square-foot building started in September 2011 and was expected to last about a year, but damage caused by superstorm Sandy in October 2012 delayed the project, town officials said.
The new building will give a permanent home to program participants who were without a brick-and-mortar building, instead resorting to using tents during the summer and being bused to other facilities during the winter, officials said.
"I think it is great that the campers and the staffers can do indoor activities when it is raining or it is too hot," said Joe Lynch, 24, who grew up with all three in Floral Park. "It's important that Jamie, Paige and Michael's legacy lives on."
In October, Drew Morgan, then 42, of Rockville Centre, a board trustee and treasurer of the Anchor Building Fund Inc., was arraigned on charges of first-degree grand larceny and three counts of second-degree grand larceny after being accused of stealing almost $1.1 million raised privately for the camp. That fund was not affiliated with the town. The case is still pending, a Nassau County district attorney's office spokesman said.
The Malone-Mulhall Recreation Center at Camp ANCHOR
Location: Lido Beach Town Park, 630 Lido Blvd.
Cost: $6 million
Size: 16,196 square feet
Capacity: 1,250 people
Amenities: Gymnasium with stage, multipurpose room, full kitchen, computer room, nurses office, administrative offices and handicapped accessible bathrooms.
Named in honor of: Camp counselors Michael Mulhall, 22, Jamie Malone, 22, and her sister Paige Malone, 19, all of Floral Park, who died on July 15, 2010 in a car accident.
Source: Town of Hempstead