Bonding Niskayuna rec facility gets harsh critique
NISKAYUNA A proposal for an indoor recreation facility to be included in a total $3 million town group bond came under fire by Niskayuna residents at a Tuesday Town Board meeting.
The $650,000 facility proposed by Supervisor Joe Landry and board member Julie McDonnell would be built on the old skate park at Blatnick Park and paid for with parkland and rental fees. The enclosed 120- by 220-foot building would house soccer and lacrosse practices, largely benefiting the town’s children.
But residents at Tuesday’s meeting took issue with the board’s projected figures for the facility’s operating costs, rental fees and a lack of contingency funds built into the overall expense. They said the facility was not needed in these economic times, especially when it would only benefit a segment of the population. Board members received the comments without response.
“Building a facility is only the beginning,” said resident Alice Rubenfeld. “It is ongoing maintenance. It is repairs. Look at the building we’re in now that has never had a truly accurate heating and air condition system. It is not just one bond.”
The recreation facility was just one of several proposed bonding projects presented Tuesday. The largest portion of the approximate $3 million group bond would be for a new water and sewer garage totaling just over $2 million.
Some of the bond projects included communication upgrades: a $35,000 telephone system for Information Technology; $40,000 improvements to the Highway Department’s radio system; and a new voice recording system at the Police Department.
Others dealt with the aging fleet of town vehicles, including $245,000 to replace three Highway Department vehicles and a $60,000 senior bus; $62,000 to replace two police patrol cars; and $75,000 to replace a 1994 Water & Sewer Department backhoe.
Additional projects included major road reconstruction and drainage work for $500,000; replacing portions of the Town Hall roof for $70,000; a $100,000 generator for the Water & Sewer Department as well as $50,000 for inflow and infiltration improvements.
“It looked like a Christmas list to me,” said Lorene Zabin.
The Niskayuna resident said she didn’t see how a recreational facility was a main priority when the town needs to replace so many departmental vehicles.
Leslie Gold said the town shouldn’t include the proposed facility in the group bond. It would only serve a small portion of residents, she said, and resolving the town’s sewer issues are more important.
Jacqueline Skolnik said, “I fail to understand how the town of Niskayuna cannot afford to collect yard waste from all residents, yet it can afford to build and maintain a facility for soccer and lacrosse clubs that will serve only a small percentage of town residents,” she said to applause.
McDonnell said the Parks and Recreation Committee, which she chairs, is still reviewing plans for the construction of the indoor turf facility.
Although the total cost is set at $650,000, lacrosse and soccer clubs would provide $200,000 of that and another $56,000 in in-kind services. The town would contribute $100,000 from parkland funds, and $350,000 would be through bonding.
Although she is against the construction of the recreation facility, Marina Franchild said her main concern with the 20-page proposal was the lack of a contingency budget. As a mechanical engineer, she said she knows that something usually always goes wrong.
The board had previously set a vote on the group bond for its April 19 meeting, but said Tuesday it hasn’t made any final decisions on the date.