YORKTOWN, N.Y. – If all is going according to plan, the turf for the prepared fields at a park that supporters have promised will be something beyond compare was delivered Wednesday, Aug. 8, and its installation on the baseball section, at least, had begun.
This week, prefabricated concrete buildings that will serve as a concession stand and restrooms were being delivered, while curbing and fencing were to continue. And on Monday, Aug. 13, bids for the pavilion and adaptive dugouts were in hand.
So said Todd Orlowski, the superintendent of Parks and Recreation, at the Town Board’s meeting Tuesday, Aug. 7, when Councilman Ed Lachterman asked for an update on the construction of the Granite Knolls Sports and Recreational Complex on Stoney Street, whose ground-breaking was held in mid-December with the expectation that by now it would be fielding town sports teams rather than raising questions about why it isn’t.
“This month is going to be a pretty big month for Granite Knolls. We’ve got a lot coming together right now,” Orlowski said, adding, “Probably toward the end of the month it’s really going to start looking like a sports complex.”
Councilman Tom Diana noted that the water pressure had been tested the previous day and “went through with flying colors.”
As for the open-air pavilion, Orlowski said, “We have the equipment and supplies for it. But it’s a separate independent contractor that we’re going out to bid to build it; it wasn’t part of the contract with Montesano,” the local company that was awarded a $3.8 million contract to construct the complex.
Lachterman began asking questions about “other changes, out of curiosity.” Upon learning that the roofing on the dugouts and pavilion would differ—metal on dugouts, asphalt shingles on the pavilion—he said he thought the materials would be the same.
Orlowski said the shingle roofing on the pavilion “offered a little bit of a cost savings,” to which Lachterman responded, “Who approved the change?”
Seizing upon Orlowski’s answer that it had been approved by the recreation commission, Lachterman pressed the issue of authority.
“These decisions need to come to the board and we shouldn’t be finding out about them second-hand,” he said. “Does parks and rec have the ability to bind the contract?”
Town Supervisor Ilan Gilbert said it did.
“You might be hearing the frustration in my voice because I’m finding out everything about Granite Knolls second-hand,” Lachterman continued, sparking a back and forth with Gilbert over emails he had sent that apparently weren’t answered. Gilbert then noted the tone in Lachterman’s voice.
“I don’t really care about the tone,” Lachterman said. “I have a duty to the people of the town.”
“I have a duty as well,” Gilbert said.
“And that duty is to answer questions,” Lachterman said.
Then Lachterman began, “I know we lost the $300,000 grant from Murphy,” referring to the senator, Terrence, to which Gilbert interjected, “We didn’t lose anything. Are you talking about the lights?”
“The timing for that grant was not brought in appropriately at the right time,” Gilbert said. “We had already gone into contract with the lights.”
Lachterman disagreed, contending the grant came in before the lighting contract was signed.
At which point a voice from the past administration was heard from the audience: Mary Capoccia’s, asking whether she could speak on the matter.
The assistant to former Supervisor Michael Grace, whom Gilbert, a Democrat, defeated in November, helping to wrest control of the governing body from the GOP, said she attended a meeting between Grace and Gilbert on Dec. 28 during which “Michael detailed very, very clearly everything about Granite Knolls, including the $300,000 grant.”
Elaborating, Capoccia said, “According to my notes, he spoke to you about the lights and he told you that [with] the $300,000 grant you had to have the lights taken care of the next month and make sure that the grant was put in. I have my notes and as everybody knows, one of the things I did very well was take a lot of notes at all of those meetings, and I certainly can back this up, if you want me to.”
“I’m sort of flabbergasted,” Gilbert said.
“I know that it went into planning and the supervisor’s office; I was able to track that much,” Lachterman contended. “It was definitely out there.”
“If a conversation occurred on Dec. 28, it did not encompass everything that you’ve indicated,” Gilbert told Capoccia. By way of further explanation, he said, “My meetings with Michael as a result of the transition were so short and so vague that I found them to be useless in terms of how he approached me and how he approached the incoming board members.”
Lachterman then turned his attention to security at the site.
“We’re about to lay the turf down,” he said. “One kid with a dirt bike is going to rip that up.”
Orlowski said locations for cameras had been determined, but a conduit had not been installed.
“Insurance will cover it, but you still have to pay the deductible, and it’s going to set the job back,” Lachterman said. Noting that the promised completion dates in June and July have passed, he said, “We’re running behind and God forbid someone goes up and vandalizes it; it will be that much longer.”
When complete, in addition to the baseball and multipurpose fields and pavilion, Granite Knolls will feature batting cages, restored basketball courts, a playground for all abilities, a putting green, a restored handball court and six pickleball courts.