Yates celebrates 200 years as town of good neighbors

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 September 2022 at 5:05 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

YATES – The Town of Yates hosted a bicentennial celebration on Saturday at the Yates Town Park, which has received $2.5 million in upgrades.

The top photos shows Town Supervisor Jim Simon cutting a cake with Mary Scarlett, the town’s oldest resident at age 96; and Sandra Houseman Gapa, who is descended from George Houseman, one of the town’s first residents in 1809. He was Gapa’s great-great-great-great grandfather.

Saturday’s event was the third and final bicentennial party for the town. The “Grand Finale Lake Fair” followed the “Family Fair” in July and the “Street Dance” in August.

Sandra Houseman Gapa, 63, said George Houseman moved to Yates in 1809 and died in 1814. (Yates was originally part of the town of Ridgeway before forming its own town in 1822.)

Houseman Gapa said she is grateful her family has stayed in the town for more than 200 years. She raised three children in Lyndonville and Yates.

“It’s a great school system,” she said. “We’re all neighbors here.”

Town Supervisor Jim Simon tries some of the new playground equipment with his granddaughter, 2 ½-year-old Adelaide.

The new playground was designed by Parkitects, which is owned by Lyndonville native Ben Frasier, a 1988 Lyndonville graduate. The playground equipment includes several handicapped accessible features. The playground is on a rubber surface.

The cedar pavilion was named in honor of Russ Martino, a former town supervisor who led the town government when the 5 acres was acquired 25 years ago for the park.

State Sen. Rob Ortt is speaking in this photo. He said the park’s location by the lake offered a striking location for residents and families to get some recreation and respite.

“This has to be one of the most beautiful views from a park in all of New York State.”

The Simon brothers – John Paul, Elijah and Sharbel – sang the first and fourth verses of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.” Their father is the town supervisor.

American Legion members Scott Goetze and Bob Burtwell, left, were part of the Honor Guard for the ceremony.

State Sen. Rob Ortt presents a proclamation to Simon in honor of the town’s 200th anniversary. Eileen Banker, right, is chief of staff for Assemblyman Steve Hawley who also had a proclamation for the town’s bicentennial from the State Assembly.

Ortt also praised Simon and the Town Board for pushing for the park upgrades which were 95 percent funded through the New York State’s Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI).

Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature supported the $300 million in REDI projects along the southshore to help fight erosion and flooding, and also boost tourism and recreation opportunities for residents, Ortt said.

The Yates projects at the park also include a kayak launch, bolstered shoreline, pier and walking trail, as well as the playground and pavilion.

Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson, a Yates resident, presents a proclamation from the County Legislature on behalf of Yates’ bicentennial.