Saugerties businessman pitches indoor sports complex (video)
SAUGERTIES, N.Y. — A proposed indoor sports complex would have several benefits for the community and could be used by students in the Saugerties school district at no cost during school hours, the developer says.
John Barese, owner of Pizza Star and the Starway Café in Saugerties, outlined his vision for the 200,000-square-foot facility during a Saugerties Board of Education meeting on Tuesday. He said the complex would be on town-owned land at Cantine Field and would include, among other amenities, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a soccer field, a track and four basketball courts.
Barese said students in the school district would be able to use the complex for physical education and sporting events, as well as to possibly organize a swim team. Saugerties High School is across Washington Avenue from Cantine Field.
The facilities at Cantine Field can be used for only part of the year because they’re outdoors.
“What I’m proposing to the town of Saugerties is a chance to utilize the facility 365 days out of the year,” Barese said.
He said students and athletes in the Hudson Valley could use the new complex to train year-round to enhance their skills and that the complex also could be used to hold sports clinics and special events, including those connected to the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival, held each September at Cantine.
Barese said the new complex would charge a parking fee of $3 to $10 per car at certain events and that the proceeds, as well as a percentage of the gross profits from sports clinics, would go to the town.
Additionally, Barese said, the school district could use the complex for high school graduations. He said the facility would be large enough to eliminate the current limit on how many guests each graduating student can have.
Barese said his plan still is in the early stages and that an original estimate of $15 million in construction costs could change. He said a private investor would fund the construction but that details about taxes and member fees still are being worked out. Continued...
Barese also said he is waiting to hear from the Saugerties Town Board regarding a public hearing on the proposal. He presented his proposal to the Town Board last week.
Town Supervisor Kelly Myers said on Wednesday that she wants the Board of Education to look at the proposal first because a lot of its aspects deal with programs for students.
Responding to questions and concerns from school board members on Tuesday, Barese said his plan is to lease from the town the land at Cantine Field on which the complex will be built. Two other parcels behind Cantine Field would be purchased and donated to the town, he said.
“We don’t own the land,” Barese said of where the complex is proposed for construction. “When we build this facility, we don’t own the facility either. The town of Saugerties owns it.”
School board Vice President Thomas Ham called the proposal commendable, but he asked Barese to make sure there would be enough exits from the facility so large crowds could get out quickly after events or in an emergency.
Ham also expressed hope that there would be a screening process used for employees at the facility to make sure children would be safe around them. Barese said there would be such screening.
Ham said he had some reservations about a for-profit business being built on public land. Barese responded that the where the complex would be built is not currently being used.
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