Saratoga Springs rec center ruckus

The Saratoga Springs City Council heard concerns from a number of residents regarding a proposed indoor recreation center on Tuesday, July 15, before their meeting, but council members did not respond to the comments.

The standing-room-only crowd had 30 minutes and 30 minutes only to present their views. Though the public hearing was closed before everyone present spoke, no one uttered words in support of the project. The concerns were varied.

A number of residents stated that the proposed location of the facility was a mistake.

Soon after taking office, Mayor Scott Johnson unveiled a plan to build at the Southside Recreation Fields near Lincoln and Vanderbilt Avenues.

"Why should we be giving up another outdoor facility site?" asked Lincoln Avenue resident John Kirwin. He suggested that more outdoor facilities, like tennis courts, be added to Southside. "It might get more use if there were more facilities there."

It was suggested that the city should reconsider building on Weibel Avenue, the originally proposed location.

Johnson has previously cited easy foot access, proximity to bus routes and the fact the Southside fields are currently under used as reasons for shifting the project's location.

The 35,500-square-foot facility, along with 56 parking spaces, would be built at a cost of $6.5 million. The plans call for a gym, indoor walking track, locker room facilities, racquetball courts and a rock climbing wall. Some outdoor space would be retained, including the playground, spray park and three ball fields.

Janice Hinman, who also lives on Lincoln Avenue, questioned whether even this much space would fulfill the growing city's future needs. "Wouldn't it be smarter to build an appropriate center with growth in mind and do it right the first time?" she asked.

Mark Lawton, of Nelson Avenue, said building at Southside would be downright illegal since previous budgeting for the project was made with the Weibel Avenue location in mind.

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