City Council tables proposed park and field fee hikes

Decision came after concerns from residents
A cricket game at Schenectady's Grout Park during the Guyana Day Celebration in 2016.
A cricket game at Schenectady's Grout Park during the Guyana Day Celebration in 2016.

SCHENECTADY — The proposed legislation that calls for increased fees for city-owned parks and fields used for sports was pulled from the City Council meeting agenda Monday night.

The decision came after City Council members said they received phone calls from representatives of different youth baseball leagues and a cricket league voicing concerns over the proposed increases. Many of the people opposed to the change spoke during Monday’s meeting.

More than 20 members from the cricket league actually showed up to City Council President Ed Kosiur’s home on Friday to discuss the proposed increases.

“I couldn’t count all of them, but I invited them all in,” Kosiur told The Daily Gazette. “We met and talked for over 30 minutes.”

The proposed increase was introduced during the Health and Recreation Committee meeting on April 2. It was proposed by council members John Mootooveren, chairman of the committee, and John Polimeni.

Independent Councilman Vince Riggi is also part of the committee, but said he had no input on the original proposed resolution.

The proposal called for some athletic fields, including the A, B and C diamond baseball fields, to see the per-game permit fees go up. Council members said this was because of the extensive upgrades that have been made and will continue to be made at Central Park, including at the A diamond field.

There would also would have been a requirement for leagues to pay a $1,500 security deposit, with the first half being paid at the beginning of the season and the second half paid during the midpoint of the season. It also asked for a $225-per-police-car fee if police are called to an event in the parks for a legitimate public safety reason. However, that fee would have been waived for medical reasons.

Cricket, though, is played at Grout Park, which would have seen the fee go up to $100 per game.

That was a fee hike that wasn’t acceptable to the cricket community, many of whom are Guyanese.

“There is improvement to other fields, none to Grout Park, but we’re still seeing fees going up,” said Steve Ram in an interview with The Daily Gazette. “[The council] isn’t putting anything into [the Guyanese] community.”

Several members spoke up during the public comment period of Monday’s meeting. 

Onkar Singh, president of the Schenectady Softballl Cricket Association, said the fees were too high and could become too expensive for some players.

“We never come to the city begging,” Sing said. “We work with what we get.”

Edward Jaikisshu said many Guyanese people came up from New York City to live in Schenectady, and that they have helped the city move toward its renaissance. He said it was unfair for the city to repay them by raising fees.

“This is our sport,” Jaikisshu said. “If we cannot play cricket as a reasonable cost, we may as well sell our homes and move back to the city.”

Some speakers took it as far as to point a finger at Mootooveren, who is also Guyanese, for doing a poor job of running his committee.

Ram asked for Mootooveren to be removed from his post and be replaced with Councilwoman Marion Porterfield, who previously was chair of the Health and Recreation Committee.

An amended version was slated to be voted on. By mid afternoon on Monday, Kosiur said they were going to put forward a new version of the resolution that stripped it of all the increased fees, but leave in the security deposit and the police car fee.

Later on in the afternoon, Kosiur said he received a call from Riggi saying he still had some problem with the language of the resolution. That led to the council tabling the resolution.

“We want to make sure the legislation is a good and safe legislation,” Kosiur said.

The resolution will now be sent to the city Parks Advisory Board, chaired by county Legislator Richard Patierne, for the board’s input, Kosiur said.

“We want all representatives from all the fields to be at the table,” Kosiur said. “We can’t have three men in the room dictating what the rest of the city is going to be doing.”

Riggi said he was pleased the legislation was being tabled.

“There’s too many unanswered questions that people have,” Riggi said, adding that it’s better to include more voices than exclude them.

Polimeni and Mootooveren agreed with having the board take up the fees after hearing concerns from residents. But both said there were no objections from council members when the resolution was first proposed.

When asked about some of the criticisms voiced on Monday, including asking for his removal as chairman of the Health and Recreation Committee, Mootooveren declined to comment.

“I’m not going to address that,” Mootooveren said.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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