YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Residents, adjust your calendars. The opening date for the Granite Knolls Sports and Recreation Complex on Stoney Street is now expected to be in mid-October. And although that may still be a moving target, one of those overseeing its development since its ground-breaking ceremony in mid-December said last week that he was “confident” it’s going to open at least prior to the end of the year.
Todd Orlowski, superintendent of Parks and Recreation, updated the Town Board at its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 4, on the progress of the $3.8 million project, which also recently sparked a debate over a grant the current administration has been accused of losing.
That debate continued among officials of the current and past administrations, with a volunteer on the Recreation Commission calling out Councilman Ed Lachterman for playing “gotcha politics.”
Lachterman, who along with Councilman Tom Diana is a minority holdover from the Republican administration of Town Supervisor Michael Grace, had claimed at a board meeting on Aug. 8 that the succeeding Democratic administration had “lost” a $300,000 grant for lighting at the sports complex. Grace’s assistant, Mary Capoccia, supported his contention, saying that Grace had “detailed very, very clearly everything about Granite Knolls,” including the grant, during his transition meeting with Town Supervisor Ilan Gilbert on Dec. 28. She said Grace told Gilbert he had to act on the grant in the next month.
Gilbert, in response, faulted Capoccia’s account and criticized the transition meetings as being “so short and so vague that I found them to be useless.”
Al Avitabile, vice chair of the Recreation Commission, added to the argument during Orlowski’s update at the Sept. 4 meeting after predicting Granite Knolls will be “a world-class facility” and “something Yorktown is going to be very proud of.”
“There’s been a concern about the grant that we didn’t get for lighting,” he began. “First of all, we didn’t know about this grant. We didn’t know about this grant because when it was given, it wasn’t passed on to people that were responsible for doing anything about it. The second thing is, if you read the email for this grant, it says it’d take a year to get it and you have to have the grant before you spend money on the lights.
“Our lights are up now. The rec commission negotiated a contract, which you signed, for $900,000 for the lights. We got a price of $550,000, installed, for these same lights. Not only were they installed, we got a better light, because there were concrete poles. So we saved far beyond what you were going to save with the grant and we got them a lot sooner, so this project wouldn’t be delayed.”
As for the delays, Avitabile said, “We had three nor’easters in a row, but that doesn’t count.” He further argued that the contract with Montesano for construction did not include penalty clauses, “the hammer that a negotiating team would have to force the contractor to work faster.”
“Not that he hasn’t been doing a great job” he said, “because he has been, and so has the team on the Recreation Commission.”
Avitabile said he didn’t see Yorktown as a Republican town or a Democratic town; he sees a town in which “we all work together.”
But, “When you play ‘gotcha politics,’ it bothers me.”
“I don’t think we were playing ‘gotcha politics,’ “ Lachterman said, explaining that his remarks at the Aug. 8 meeting weren’t “a criticism.”
“There have been questions that have come in to the Town Board,” he said. “People are interested in this. People want to know…If I don’t get an answer, I will press it.”
Grace, during courtesy of the floor, also challenged Gilbert’s recollection of the Dec. 28 transition meeting as it related to the $300,000 grant.
“We discussed it. I discussed it with you. I know I discussed it with you because I took a lot of pride in that project. I took a lot of pride not only in the project, but making sure that the project was going to come in at or under budget,” he said. “I take umbrage at your characterization of our meeting.”