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More questions than answers on Shuttleworth turf project

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - Updated: 10:14 AM

By ALISSA SCOTT

alissa.scott@recordernews.com

Though a resolution to rescind authorization of the synthetic turf project at Shuttleworth Park was put up last month, the Amsterdam Common Council has put it off for at least another week until it can be discussed in committee.

Recreation Director Robert Spagnola fielded an hour's worth of questions at the last committee meeting, but 3rd Ward Alderman Ronald J. Barone Sr. said Tuesday that he still needs answers.

"It doesn't matter whether you do it this year or next year," Barone said during a council meeting Tuesday night. "I'm don't believe in it, personally, but for the benefactor of the city who thinks they need to have this Astroturf, that's fine. I wish I could get some straight answers on this ... thing, because it's utterly ridiculous."

Fourth Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler said Spagnola met with city engineer Richard Miller recently, but after being asked several more questions, Spagnola has not gotten back to Miller.

Mayor Ann Thane said she's confused about what questions need to be answered and neither Barone nor Hatzenbuhler identified them.

"Rob Spagnola stood here and answered questions," Thane said. "There were straight answers that night. We need to progress the project. I don't understand trying to tank this project this late in the game."

First Ward Alderman Edward Russo said he doesn't get it either.

"What's the holdup?" he asked. "Was there any damage to the field? Do we even know?"

Last month, Hatzenbuhler sponsored a resolution that rescinded the turf project -- one that was given approval by a former council -- because she said there may be $5,000 worth of damage to the field. Because of that, she said, it isn't fiscally responsible to continue with the $170,000 project.

After receiving phone calls from two people Hatzenbuhler refused to identify, she said the field had been plowed without city authorization.

Tuesday night, Hatzenbuhler said she's still receiving information from people she did not, again, identify.

"I'm getting conflicting reports," she said. "Some people are telling me there's tracks, some people are telling me there's too much snow."

Russo said even if there is damage, the council still needs to move the project along.

The resolution only retracts one previously approved to allow the installation, so there is nothing standing in the way from beginning construction.

Except the weather.

Spagnola said he hopes to start work in the spring, as long as the weather warms up.

"I'll table it," Russo said. "I'm calling a recreation committee meeting."

     

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