Saugerties proceeds with caution regarding sports complex proposal
SAUGERTIES, N.Y. — Attorneys for the town and for a developer who wants to build a multimillion-dollar indoor sports complex on town-owned land at Cantine Field are working to draft a memorandum of understanding to further explore the feasibility of the project, town Supervisor Kelly Myers says.
Myers said the memorandum “will lay out the specifics of where we go from here.” She said the Town Board unanimously adopted a resolution Wednesday authorizing her and the town’s special counsel, attorney John Mineaux, to negotiate and prepare the memorandum of understanding. Once that is complete, it will come back to the Town Board for approval, Myers said.
The resolution authorizes Myers and Mineaux “to undertake the due diligence and analysis of the proposed project, the parcel, any and all applicable statutes and regulations, as well as terms and conditions that would govern the development and operation of the project” with the goal of determining the best use of the parcel of land for the project. The memorandum also would provide Saugerties residents and the Town Board with sufficient information to determine whether to allow the town-owned land to be alienated, sold, leased or otherwise used, the resolution states.
Restaurant owner John Barese is proposing to build a 200,000-square-foot indoor sports complex. The proposal has drawn both praise and concern from town residents. Some applaud the idea of creating a local facility for athletic tournaments; others question the plan’s impact on parking and taxes.
Barese, who owns Pizza Star and the Starway Cafe in Saugerties, said he planned to lease the town property for $1 per year for 99 years and buy two other parcels nearby, then donate that land to the town. The purchased land would total about 7 acres, which also is how much town-owned land Barese’s project would occupy. Barese also proposed building a new access road to the facility at a cost of $1.2 million.
The cost of building the sports complex has been estimated at $15 million but could rise.
The sports complex would include, among other amenities, a swimming pool, a soccer field, a 200-meter track and four basketball courts inside the track. The facility also would feature a restaurant and conference area. High school students would be able to use the facility during school hours at no cost.
Myers said the memorandum of understanding would hold the town harmless from studying the project further and stipulate that all feasibility study costs and other fees would be paid by the developer. She said deciding whether to alienate the town’s park land, which Barese had asked for, is a bit premature.
Alienation of the park land would require approval from the state Legislature, which would have questions about the proposal, Myers said. She said the town needs the answers to those questions before the matter goes to the state.
“We’re entering into the process to see if this is possible,” Myers said. She added that taking that step is a “nice” compromise between people who want to push the project forward and others who are skeptical of the proposal. Continued...
On Friday, Barese said he is happy the town is moving forward with his proposal and that he has no problem with a feasibility study. He said he has done everything the town has asked of him and is waiting to hear what the next step will be.
Barese also said the request to alienate the park land would have to go to the state Legislature in the next two months or the project could be delayed by a year.
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