(Doris Pinto and Carol Johnson with their Keys to the Village of Ballston Spa.)
By LANCE CRANMER firstname.lastname@example.org
BALLSTON SPA, NY – In John Romano’s 21 years as Mayor of the Village of Ballston Spa, New York, he has only given away eight ceremonial keys to the village. Two of those, however, have been handed out in the last few months – and both of them to residents of National Church Residences Doubleday Woods.
“I’ve been going to a lot of functions (at Doubleday Woods) lately and I wanted to let them know that we value their residency,” said Romano. “They’re as important as anybody in the village.”
The residents at Doubleday Woods had not always been as connected to the goings on in Ballston Spa, a village of 5,500 people that serves as the seat of Saratoga County, located 30 minutes north of Albany.
“I think at one point there was a feeling with a lot of residents in the village that the residents at Doubleday Woods weren’t a part of the village,” Romano said.
That sentiment started to change when a group of ladies from Doubleday Woods’ Residents Association began regularly attending meetings of the village council.
“Our residents here are pretty much homebound,” said Carol Johnson, the President of the Residents Association. “There are a few of us who get out and go here and there if they have relatives who go and get them. We thought it would be nice for a few of us to start attending the meetings. To help let people know what’s going on.”
“We go to all the meetings at the mayor’s office, all the meetings at town hall, and when necessary the planning board meetings,” said Doris Pinto, the association’s Vice President. “It is an effort to keep us notified of what’s going on in town. When something important happens, we report that back to our residents at our monthly meetings.”
The ladies became such a fixture at the meetings that last year an official meeting of the Ballston Spa Village Council was held at Doubleday Woods.
“We had it outside last summer,” said Johnson. “We’re planning on having another board meeting. We’re trying to get the people here active in the community.”
As the relationship between village officials and Doubleday Woods residents grew, Romano found himself visiting with the seniors more and more.
“He’s great,” said Pinto. “He has come to our potluck dinners, which we have once a month. He comes and so does the town supervisor. We appreciate that.”
This winter, as his token of thanks to the resident’s association, Romano awarded Johnson and Pinto with ceremonial keys to the village on their birthdays.
“You know, it doesn’t fit the bank, I will tell you this much,” said Pinto with a laugh. “It weighs a ton, otherwise I would wear it on a chain around my neck.”
“I’ve had a few comments about, ‘Gee, can we borrow your key to get into the city? Can we get into the bank?’” Johnson added. “I don’t think that will work.”
Both women now have their keys mounted on plaques and displayed in their homes.
“I am very proud of it,” said Johnson. “I was very surprised.”
“They’re a great group of people up there,” Romano said of the residents of Doubleday Woods. “I thought it would be a nice thing to recognize them on their birthday and present them with a key. In my view, it’s the seniors and their sacrifices that have paved the way to our successes today. I think it’s a good thing to recognize people for the things that they’ve done in the past to make the community better today.”