SARATOGA SPRINGS: Rec center redux

In the wake of Mayor Valerie Keehn's announcement of a financial plan for the proposed recreation facility on Weibel Avenue, Commissioner of Public Works Thomas McTygue said he wants to explore the possibility of two separate facilities.

I still like the idea of two facilities, said McTygue at the Tuesday, Aug. 7, meeting of the Saratoga Springs City Council. He said there are still concerns regarding traffic safety and the cost of the Weibel Avenue location " problems that could be remedied by partnering with the YMCA for a west-side recreation facility.

"We can't afford what's being proposed here," said McTygue.

Having two facilities would also ensure that all of Saratoga Springs' residents are near a facility, he said. "Why are we going to make people from the west side of the city travel all the way to Weibel Avenue?"

The Weibel Avenue facility is planned to contain more than 40,000 square feet of space for indoor basketball, volleyball, lacrosse and other sports. The 2007 city budget includes $4.33 million to cover the remaining expenses associated with the city's new recreational facility. The recreation facility has a projected cost of $6.5 million and ongoing operational costs that would start at $300,000 per year, and go up annually as salaries and programs increase.

Keehn was taken aback by the commissioner's proposition, noting that he has been an ardent proponent of the Weibel Avenue site.

When a new advisory committee for the recreation facility was formed by Commissioner of Finance Matthew McCabe near the end of last year to explore other locations, McTygue complained that the city has had committee after committee for several years. He also accused McCabe of stalling the project.

A 5.2-acre parcel on Weibel Avenue has long been the recommended site for the new facility. McTygue said McCabe's alternative site " a field adjacent to the Vernon ice rink " was in a floodplain.

When questioned by Keehn as to his change of heart, McTygue said sometimes a little caution is warranted in a project of this size.

"Commissioner, I wish you had this epiphany three years ago," said Keehn.

Commissioner of Public Safety Ron Kim asked if the city would pay interest on the funds that have already been bonded for project should there be a delay. McCabe replied that the city has been paying interest on those bonds. ""

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