Amsterdam park named for former mayor

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CCM/Carol McIntire Former Amsterdam Mayor Gary Pepperling (left) and Mayor Jim Phillips, who conducted the dedication ceremony, are shown with the new sign at Pepperling Park.

By Carol McIntire


The park on the hill or “Hill Park” in Amsterdam received an official name during a June 1 ceremony. 

The park was named Pepperling Park in honor of former Amsterdam Mayor Gary Pepperling, who was instrumental in the development of the park, located on the “hill” near the intersection of Liberty and Oler streets.

“I’m really humbled by this,” Pepperling said after current Mayor Jim Phillips shared the story of the park. 

“Gary’s persistence is the reason I joined village council and the reason I am involved in politics now,” Phillips said, “One day I was mowing my grass and this guy who was walking his dog showed up. At that point I didn’t know who he was, but learned it was Mayor Pepperling. He asked me if I was interested in serving on council. I told him I wasn’t interested. He said to think about it. 

“He came back a second time and asked me. I said I wasn’t interested, again. He came back a third time and I told him the only way I would do it was if he taught me his job. He did and here I am.”

Pepperling, who served as a village councilman for three years and mayor for 16 before retiring from the position a few years ago. 

“I don’t think there’s a better place to grow up than Amsterdam,” Pepperling said, standing beside the new “Pepperling Park” sign at the park entrance. “I lived in that house right over there and wouldn’t wait to get out of here. After graduation I went to Vietnam, and I couldn’t wait to get back home. Spread the word: Amsterdam is a great place to live.”

The former mayor explained how the park came to be.

“There was an old four-room schoolhouse on this lot,” Pepperling said, turning his head toward the hill where play equipment now sits. “It was torn down in, maybe 1966, and became just a vacant lot. We put a couple swing sets up and kids started coming here. Council then started putting in play equipment, rides and swings and then we put a pavilion. It gets a lot of use today.”

Village council passed an ordinance to name the park in honor of Pepperling and Fiscal Officer Jamie Phillips designed the sign.

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