Oneida Parks worker plans to volunteer in retirement

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ONEIDA — Patti Meakin has been one of the hearts and minds pushing the Oneida Rail Trail forward, and though she’s retiring, she plans to still be an active volunteer working to make Oneida a better place to live.

Patti has worked with the city of Oneida for 17 years and officially retired from her position as account clerk of the Parks and Recreation Department on Wednesday, April 14. A small surprise get-together was held by her close friends and colleagues at Origilio’s Wagon Wheel, where they commended her work.

Her husband, Charlie, said she’d bring her work home with her every night, 24-7 — and he loved that. “She enjoys her work so much,” he said. “She’s got so much invested in the city of Oneida.”

From his vantage point, Charlie got to see the Oneida Rail Trail’s construction every step of the way through Patti’s eyes.

Oneida Wards 4, 5, 6 Supervisor Joseph Magliocca said Patti’s work on the Oneida Rail Trail couldn’t be overstated.

Work on the Oneida Rail Trail started in 2012 after the city of Oneida obtained the CNY85 grant from the Central New York Community Foundation.

Magliocca said that he, Madison County Planning Department Assitant Director Jamie Kowalczk, and Patti were all there from the beginning to breathe life into the Oneida Rail Trail — and Patti had one of the most important jobs.

“It was the Recreation Department that managed that grant for the city of Oneida, and it was Patti’s due diligence and involvement on a day-to-day basis, working with the department heads, that maximized that grant,” Magliocca said.

Maximized to the point that at the end of construction, there was money left over from the grant that Patti could utilize.

“At the end, it turned out we had an extra $70,000,” Patti said. “That went towards payroll for the people who built the Oneida Rail Trail. And we were able to get two very nice picnic tables, two new trail signs, and display cases for the kiosk.”

And on top of all of this, Patti was the one who developed the Oneida Trail Ambassador program. Trail Ambassadors are the eyes and ears of not just the Oneida Rail Trail but also DuRoss Conservancy and Mt. Hope Reservoir.

If that’s not enough, she’s also a member of the Oneida Improvement Committee and has helped the city of Oneida in many ways over the years and continues to do so.

When asked why she was so dedicated to Oneida, Patti said, “My mother-in-law was always volunteering her time and I was bitten by that bug from her.”

“I’m from Oneida, and I love it, and I want to see it succeed,” she continued. “And I believe in the Oneida Rail Trail as an economic engine for the city.”

Patti and Charlie said their first grandchild is expected to be born in July, with Patti adding that this was one of the reasons why she felt it was time to retire.

“I’m going to be a grandmother, and my daughter moved to Tuscon, Arizona, so I need time to spend with my granddaughter and time to visit my daughter, so I felt it was a good time,” Patti said. “We wanted to retire early because life is short, and we didn’t want to get too old to where we can’t enjoy it.”

When asked what other plans she had after retirement, Patti said she’s going to continue volunteering her time and energy to the city of Oneida, the Rail Trail, and the OIC.

“We’ve got an ‘I Love My Park Day’ on May 1 I’m heading up; we’re going to clean three miles of the Erie Canal and the entire Rail Trail; I’m working on something with Girl Scout Unit 230, and we’re also putting together a 5K Fun Run and Walk in July,” Patti said. “We’ve got a lot going on.”

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