CARS HOMES JOBS

Publicly funded Richmondville athletic center closes its doors

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
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A sign seen in front of the Maranatha Family Center in Richmondville on Tuesday tells members it will be reopening as soon as possible.
A sign seen in front of the Maranatha Family Center in Richmondville on Tuesday tells members it will be reopening as soon as possible.

— The lights have gone dim at a $5.3 million athletic center that opened in Richmondville 10 months ago with the help of state and local economic development funding.

Electricity was turned off Sept. 5 at the Maranatha Family Center at 1461 Route 7, about five months after Richmondville Power and Light began notifying the center its bills were overdue.

An offer to turn the power back on if half the bill was paid went nowhere, according to Richmondville Mayor Kevin Neary. The village runs Richmondville Power and Light as a department, and the board decided in early September to go forward with the shutdown, according to Neary.

He said he’s hopeful the center can overcome its difficulties and return to the community.

It’s unclear whether the lack of revenue from membership dues has led to financial difficulties. The facility’s owner, Stella McKenna, could not be reached.

The center’s Facebook page provides little information. A posting earlier this month said the center was closed because of an “electrical ground short.” A more recent posting blames the slowdown in re-opening on insurance companies taking a long time to process payments.

Officials attended a grand opening at the site in November and praised plans to create 40 jobs at the new center with the help of public funding.

New York state’s Empire State Development back in 2009 announced it was pitching in about $2.3 million to support the project, which entailed demolishing one barn, saving a historic Dutch barn and building the 85,000-square-foot facility.

The Dutch barn was destroyed during construction, apparently because it was too old to save, according to Empire State Development.

Now, two agencies are unsure if or when they’ll get back the money they put into the project.

The Schoharie County Industrial Development Agency provided a $35,000 loan to pay for engineering and planning for the facility, and the owners are behind on those payments, according to IDA Director Ron Filmer.

The Mohawk Valley Economic Development District loaned $200,000 to the project, and the agency is not receiving payments, either, according to its director, Stephen Smith.

The Maranatha Family Center was seen as an economic development opportunity because it was going to include room for orthopedists, physical therapists and fitness instructors.

 
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