CARS HOMES JOBS

Cricket players in Schenectady clamor for fields

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
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— There’s a cricket field at Grout Park now, but that hasn’t stopped the conflicts.

A simmering feud over cricket came to the City Council meeting Wednesday, where 15 cricket players begged to be allowed back in Central Park to play.

They said the one field at Grout Park wasn’t enough for three leagues, each with multiple teams.

“We used to play cricket in Central Park, in Mont Pleasant Park … now we are told all cricket must play at Grout Park,” said Schenectady Softball Cricket Association President Onkar Singh.

He said his league has 150 players and he can’t get enough time for them all to play at Grout Park.

“We have to restrict our membership to what we have because of the availability of fields,” he said.

There’s also no room for the Kids Academy that he has run for more than five years. Until now, he ran it at Central Park.

“The parents keep calling: ‘When are we going to start the Kids Academy?’ I have no answer for these people,” he said.

Three of his players waved signs, one of which read, “No to discrimination. Yes to cricket.”

Several council members said they were sympathetic and wanted to resolve the problem.

But Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo said the problems caused by the cricket players at Central Park might preclude an easy solution.

“We have experienced a lot of complaints from our neighbors in the Central Park area,” she said.

Neighbors complained to The Daily Gazette about noise and fights. City workers said they were called to mediate between the leagues almost every weekend, particularly because teams would fight over who had officially reserved each field.

But Perazzo said cutting back to just one field at Grout Park was clearly not enough. She called for a compromise.

Councilman Carl Erikson said parks workers should meet to find a way to create more fields for the cricket players.

“We need to provide these services for people,” he said. “Providing a cricket field is really one of the less expensive services we can provide.”

The Guyanese-American Association of Schenectady plans to build three more fields in Grout Park, but that might require years of fundraising.

In other business, the council postponed a public hearing on whether the county should be given the authority to collect delinquent taxes from property owners who do not pay up.

The proposal might end a lawsuit filed by the county against the city. Schenectady is no longer paying the county to make up for every taxpayer who does not pay, and the county wants to force the city to return to that procedure. The city wants to hand over the taxes as it collects them.

Council President Margaret King said the public hearing was postponed because the county is negotiating with the city on the issue. She said she expects the hearing to be held soon, possibly with slight changes in wording to satisfy the county.

The council also voted to continue a moratorium on halfway houses while city officials revise the proposed definition of such houses. The council expects to vote next month on zoning rules that restrict halfway houses but allow them in some areas.

Halfway houses are generally considered residential institutions for state or federal prisoners who are about to be released on parole. However, the city’s proposed definition could be read to include any residential program that accepts people who are on parole. The council plans to discuss soon whether it wants such a broad definition.

 
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