By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
The installation of turf in the infield at Shuttleworth Park in the city of Amsterdam is on the hold until the fall.
The project was briefly brought up at the Common Council meeting this week, as a resolution was on the table authorizing work to be done on the baseball field.
The resolution was taken off the agenda, however, as 1st Ward Alderman Joseph Isabel informed the council that the work was postponed.
City Recreation Director Robert Spagnola said Friday that the reason the job is "just on hold right now" is due to the fact that the timetable to get the job done has passed for this spring.
Spagnola said the long-term contract between the city and Union College is not in place yet, due to a few hold ups on the college's end.
But the college will still be renting out the park for this spring.
"We rent out Shuttleworth Park every year to a lot of different groups and so they're (Union College) doing the same thing as we do with ten different organizations every summer," Spagnola said.
Paul Mound, head coach for Union College's baseball team and an Amsterdam native, said Friday that being from the area he watched the development and transformation of Shuttleworth Park throughout the years, adding that it's become "quite a venue for NCAA baseball."
"I felt as though it was an outstanding opportunity for us to partner together," Mound said. "I know there's always been baseball support in Amsterdam."
Mound said that with a few players from Montgomery County, including Canajoharie and Amsterdam, and a great team of players in general, he's hoping the city supports their talented baseball program.
As for the hold on the turf, Mound said he doesn't see it having any impact on the team coming this spring.
"It is a big draw for us to have the ability to play on a turf field because that is something that we don't have. We don't have that available to use currently," Mound said. "Obviously it's a draw, not a deal-breaker, but I would say from our vantage point it provides us with good opportunities."
One of those opportunities is that NCAA baseball starts early, at the end of March, he said.
"Obviously, if there's turf down that makes that a whole lot more palatable, but obviously I understand that they were unable to get started at this point for a myriad of reasons so we we're just going to have to work along," he said.
For the long-term contract that the city has been working on with Union College, Mound said it's still being discussed.
"Although, our feeling as a whole is we want to start this 2013 season off. We have very high expectations that it's going to be successful for us to be in Shuttleworth Park," he said. "Our goal is to maintain a presence at Shuttleworth Park for decades as opposed to years."
A portion of the college's games will continue to be played in Schenectady, Mound said, so as to continue to maintain a presence in their own neck of the woods.
The process of putting in the turf is about a two-month process, start to finish, Spagnola said.
The ground-breaking will likely occur in the fall, if everything falls in line.
"The turf will not only pay for itself but produce revenue for the city of Amsterdam," he explained.
From a combination of cutting expenses for maintaining the field to cutting the recreation budget, there will be savings, Spagnola said, and with turf comes a whole group of opportunities for the field as far as early season practices are concerned.
"Nobody else in the area has turf that allows you to play games in March ... It's definitely a money-maker, no question about it."
Brian Spagnola, president and general manager of the Amsterdam Mohawks, said Friday that even though there's some opposition from "traditionalists" about the turf replacing a traditional infield, it's for the better.
"In our situation, it's just so practical," he said. "That field gets used so much. We (the Mohawks) only play 24 games, but there's 200 games there each year."
He said that the field is difficult for the city and the Mohawks to maintain because "it takes such a beating," but the addition of turf, come the fall, will mean that really no maintenance will need to be done on the infield.
"It's going to be a huge burden off of everyone from that standpoint."
Brian Spagnola said that though he too will miss the beauty of a traditional infield, it makes more sense for Shuttleworth to have a turf infield.