Schenectady County officials are no longer interested in buying property off Guilderland Avenue where they intended to build Little League fields, one of the landowners said Wednesday.
Angelo Caschera, one of five owners of the 8.9 acres, said the deal fell through last month after county officials determined they couldn’t build some of the fields to regulation size. The county Legislature authorized purchase of the land for $260,000, provided at least three fields could be built.
Caschera said the group is still considering options after waiting more than a year for the county to finish studies. For now, he said, the idea is to revive a plan to build two soccer fields.
“We don’t know yet,” he said Wednesday. “We’re still up in the air.”
Preliminary reports by the Army Corps of Engineers in June showed enough land was available for four playing fields plus other improvements. Previously, county officials indicated their purchase agreement with the five owners would expire this month.
Ray Gillen, the county commissioner for economic development and planning, said the property is suitable for three fields, but not optimal for the Rotterdam Little League’s purposes. He said county officials still haven’t made a final determination.
“It’s functional, but its not optimal,” he said Wednesday.
League President Robert Caprara said continuing to plan at the Guilderland Avenue site didn’t make sense because the property wouldn’t have changed the organization’s need for field space. He said the league alerted the county it wasn’t interested in the property last month.
“It didn’t really make much sense to go further because we’d still be looking for land,” he said.
Ever since local developer Timothy Larned purchased the former Republican Club property in 2002, league officials have braced for a future without the four fields there. Plans for a Wal-Mart on the property in 2005 and an attorney’s opinion about the liability of leasing the fields in 2006 prompted the league to push their search for new baseball diamonds.
SET FOR THIS YEAR
Larned granted the league a reprieve in October, when he agreed to allow play through the 2008 season on the Republican Club land. His property has four baseball diamonds and represents about half of the league’s field space, which has others available in the town.
Gillen said part of the apprehension over using the Guilderland Avenue property is on the part of league officials, who are anticipating a major investment in the new fields. Plans include nearly $1 million worth of improvements, including a 150-spot parking lot, lighted fields, locker rooms, restrooms and a snack bar, league officials said last summer.
“These guys would rather do it right, and we want to do it right as well,” Gillen said.
The solution for the league could rest with an agreement among the three neighboring towns of western Schenectady County. Rotterdam Supervisor Steve Tommasone said he’s contacted officials from both Princetown and Duanesburg about working together to seek a shared park that could also be used for the Little League.
“It’s my hope that the three of us can work together for a park in the western part of the county that can help us all,” he said.
Caprara said such an idea could be difficult to achieve because of the district guidelines of Little League. But if the right proposal comes along, he said there are ways to try to make it work.
“The good thing about Little League is that they do grant waivers,” he said.
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