Town expresses concern about Austin Park drainage

Skaneateles town officials last week expressed concerns about a decision made by the village planning board on drainage in Austin Park.

Representatives of Skaneateles Lakeshore Baseball and Softball recently made presentations before the town and village boards about their intention to raise money, primarily through private donations, and do renovation work to the Austin Park baseball diamonds in 2014. The work will include reconstructing some of the diamonds and building permanent dugouts along the baselines of Simms Field, the diamond closest to the YMCA.

The plans were reviewed and approved by the village planning board at its Nov. 7 meeting, who found that the drainage in the park would not be negatively affected by the new dugouts.

According to the planning board meeting minutes, architect Bob Eggleston, representing Lakeshore Baseball, told the board that the new dugouts wouldn’t affect drainage of the fields. Eggleston said the structures will be constructed “on grade” — meaning that they won’t have foundations that will be dug into the ground.

At the Dec. 5 meeting, Town Supervisor Terri Roney noted that the town parks department has objections with the village planning board’s approval due to the issue of drainage.

“Because the town parks department does maintain those fields they would just like to go on the record that there have been drainage issues and there could potentially be drainage issues by moving some of the field around and constructing permanent structures,” Roney said.

The town parks department has a contract to manage the parks in the village, though the parks are ultimately on village property, meaning the town has no jurisdiction over them in matters such as renovations, Roney said.

“If they’re not going to do it right, don’t do it at all,” parks employee Gene LaForte said.

After hearing a presentation from Chris Pickney from Lakeshore Baseball at its Oct. 3 meeting, the town board had discussed the issue of water pooling in certain areas of the park, after it rains, and not being able to adequately drain. At that meeting, Councilor Rick Keyes suggested that the town and village revisit an old plan to add drain tiles to the fields to address the issue.

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