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March 11, 2014

Common Council panel OKs plans to run adult sports leagues privately

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — A Common Council committeee gave the go ahead Monday night to plans for the adult softball league and the tennis program to be run privately.

The Community Improvement Committee reviewed the recreation proposals, housing programs and vacant building issues during a meeting in City Hall, 258 Main St. in downtown Oneonta.

The CIC approved a plan by Louie Barnes and Eric Scheer to run the softball league. The plan includes exempting field-use fees for the program for this year as the organizers assess costs and the city Parks and Recreation Department reviews the use of city fields and maintenance needs.

The city is switching to privately or independently run recreation programs to save money and to turn over programs to organizations with more experience in those fields.

Last year, the city had a $4,000 deficit running the softball league, not including administrative costs of city staff, Steven Andrews, city director of recreation, said. Andrews said the plan submitted by Barnes and Scheer is a “win-win” proposal.

Barnes, a professional softball umpire, and Scheer, a college student, have been involved with the league many years. Their proposal next goes to the Common Council for approval by the full board.

In reviewing changes in the tennis program, which previously was free to youths, the city will pay $2,000 to the Oneonta Tennis Club to run lessons and clinics, Andrews said.

The city’s cost last year was $5,500 for staff wages, Andrews said. In the youth program, Oneonta Tennis Club will charge $40 to city residents and $80 to nonresidents, he said.

By switching to the Oneonta Tennis Club, the city is saving $3,500 in labor costs, Mayor Dick Miller said.

In commercial and residential property matters, the CIC members, the mayor and city officials discussed requiring vacant buildings to be registered with the city for a fee of $500. The purpose of the program would in part be to determine the responsibilities of owners of vacant buildings and to speed rehabilitation of the structures.

Robert Chiappisi, city code enforcement officer, said a little more than 90 buildings are vacant, a count that includes commercial and residential properties.

Michael Long, city manager, said the proposal, along with information about assessments and other housing initiatives, will be reviewed at a special meeting before the Common Council’s regular meeting April 22.