Supervisor Michael Grace is posed to spend several million dollars to build a new sports complex at Granite Knolls. Despite the fact that planning for the project has been in the works for over three years, a July 11 public hearing will be the very first time residents will have an opportunity to ask questions about the project.
But a word of caution: If you want to learn more about the planned multi-million sports complex, you’ll have to physically attend the meeting because it won’t be televised. While public hearings are usually scheduled for televised board meetings, July 11 is a “work session” meeting, and the board has consistently refused to televise its work sessions. (At the board’s June 20 meeting, a request was made to televise the July 11 meeting; there was no response from the board.)
So far, this is what’s known about the complex, which Supervisor Grace proudly says will make Yorktown the sports capital of the lower Hudson Valley. The complex will include a 90-foot baseball diamond; dugouts; a press box; two artificial turf multi-purpose fields; pickleball, basketball and handball courts; lighting; a putting green; a gravel parking area for 200 cars; a playground area; nature trail; restrooms; and a pavilion. Access will be from a new road coming off Stoney Street.
What’s NOT known:
What will the complex cost and who will pay for it?
Although Supervisor Grace once ballparked the value of the complex at between $3 million to $5 million, more often than not, when asked about the cost, he has said we wouldn’t know until we went out to bid. Well, the bids came in on June 26, but as of June 30, the numbers weren’t available to the public; they were “still being tabulated.”
Over the past three years, Supervisor Grace has consistently told us that the complex would be built at “no cost to taxpayers;” the money would come from Spectra (now called Enbridge) and the new owner of the former Phoenix Academy. But now it looks like Enbridge will be the only source of outside money, and, more recently, the supervisor said that “some” parts of the complex might have to be built in phases and that “some” tax dollars might be needed. He didn’t say what parts of the complex would get built, when, and with whose money?
Once built, what will it cost to maintain the complex?
Will extra staff be needed? Will residents and teams have to pay to use the courts and fields? Will the new fields draw off revenue from the fields at Legacy?
Do we need more athletic fields?
That depends on who you ask. Those involved with teams say we “desperately” need more fields, adding that many of our existing fields are “substandard.” Others say no, we have enough fields and courts; if Enbridge is going to give us money as part of the second phase of the pipeline project, the funds should be used for road paving and drainage improvements.
Has a usage study been done of our existing fields? Do we need more fields or just “nicer” fields? Instead of building a new sports complex, can or should any of our existing facilities be repaired and/or expanded? Can there be more sharing of facilities between the town and the Yorktown and Lakeland school districts?
Can Stoney Street safely handle the added traffic?
What is the potential traffic impact, especially if all or most of the facilities are in use at the same time? What traffic studies have been done?
Is there sufficient parking?
Will the planned 200 parking spaces be enough, especially when special events like tournaments are held? If not, where will the overflow go?
Who has reviewed the plan?
Have the planning board, conservation board or tree conservation advisory commission reviewed the actual site plan and wetlands and tree removal mitigation plans?
And finally, has the town board reached out to the neighborhood?
Have homeowners along Stoney Street and its side roads been informed about the proposed complex? Have they been notified of the July 11th public hearing?
Residents may have different positions on Granite Knolls but hopefully we can all agree on the need for an open and transparent town government.
Susan Siegel is a former town supervisor (2010-11) and councilwoman (2014-15).