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What you need to know for 10/21/2017

Niskayuna indoor rec facility on hold

Niskayuna indoor rec facility on hold

A controversial proposal to build an indoor recreation facility at Blatnick Park has been put on hol

A controversial proposal to build an indoor recreation facility at Blatnick Park has been put on hold while other options are considered, Supervisor Joe Landry said Monday.

While some form of bonding for the facility is still an option, Landry said he has asked the town’s Parks and Community Programs Committee to study all options related to the facility.

“There may be some other financing options that we didn’t find or are now out there,” Landry said. “Things may change in the future.”

There was no timeline on an alternate proposal.

Landry said officials made the move after speaking with the soccer and lacrosse clubs, which have been working on the project with the town in some form for four years.

The move was also made after realizing that the required support on the board for a bond didn’t materialize.

Of the five-member Town Board, four members are needed to approve a bond. Board member Jonathan McKinney has been a vocal opponent, preparing a push for a public referendum on the issue if it were passed by the board.

Board member Liz Orzel Kasper spoke out at the most recent meeting in favor of putting the issue to a public referendum.

Kasper couldn’t be reached for comment Monday. McKinney wondered whether the project might be brought back after the current furor dies down.

McKinney also questioned what town resources have been spent on the project already, through town workers.

“This can’t go on forever,” McKinney said. “Either they do it now or stop spending town resources on it.”

The issue of bonding for the recreation facility has been a contentious one in the town since it was included in an upcoming proposed bonding.

Residents both for and against the project have packed recent Town Board meetings to voice their opinions.

Landry and board member Julie McDonnell have argued the facility is needed in the town, where indoor practice space is scarce. The town’s contributions would be covered by fees charged for using the facility. Usage fees would also cover both operating costs and debt service, they argued, with parkland funds available as a backup.

“I still think it’s a very good project and it’s something that’s needed in the Northeast,” Landry said Monday.

Critics argued the town couldn’t afford a facility that they said will only benefit a few. They also note the facility is being talked about after the town imposed a brush pickup fee because it could not afford to pay for the service out of general revenue.

The recreation facility is set to cost $650,000 and be put on the site of the old skate park. Of the cost, $200,000 would be provided by the soccer and lacrosse clubs. Under the controversial proposal, the town would have contributed $100,000 from parkland funds, and $350,000 would be raised through borrowing. The clubs were also expected to kick in $56,000 in in-kind services.

The recreation facility was set to be part of a larger bond proposal that could hit $3 million. As much as $2 million of that is to fund a new water and sewer garage.

The rest of the bonding is set to go forward in upcoming meetings, Landry said. A smaller portion is expected to be voted upon at tonight’s meeting.

The largest portion, the money for the new water and sewer garage, is set to go forward, but not be voted upon until at least the May 17 meeting.

Landry said minor changes were done since the last public hearing, forcing a new public hearing. That is expected to be called at tonight’s meeting likely for the May 17 meeting, Landry said.

McKinney, though, pointed to a Wednesday Conservation Advisory Board meeting where he believes questions will be raised over important studies that haven’t been done, including traffic and runoff.

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