Sports arena developer gives town ultimatum

John Barese, alleging numerous delays and lack of communication on his proposal to develop a $15 million indoor sports complex on town land at Cantine Field, demanded that the Town Board either resolve to act on the plan or reject his proposal, leaving him free to pursue other avenues.

“What I am going to propose to the board is very simple,” Barese said. “We’ve wasted two and a half years, money, and time; I would like for the town [at the] next board meeting to make a decision, a very simple yes or no. Yes, we’re going to help you…or no, Mr. Barese, we don’t want you to do it.”

Supervisor Kelly Myers said the board would be discussing the project in an upcoming executive session but gave no indication the town was leaning for or against.

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“Mr. Barese is requesting a non-permitted use on town land, he’s requested to operate a business on land that belongs to the town,” Myers said. “State funds, as well as federal funds, have been used to purchase the land, so it’s not so simple to just say, ‘I want to run a business here.’ That’s not an easy thing to do.”

The proposal is unusual for Saugerties. It involves a land swap; Barese wants the town to lease him 7.5 acres of land tax-free for $1 per year for 99 years in exchange for a donation of a piece of land of equal size nearby. He says the sports arena needs to be on town land because it’s much closer to the school, and high school and junior high students would be using the facility all the time — that’s the main reason he believes there’s a public interest here. He added that the sports arena would pay the town at least $60,000 a year through parking fees for special events, so it would not lose out on revenue despite the lack of taxes.

There are 3 comments

  1. Holly

    I think one of the main issues that that Mr Barese has (as far as I have seen) refused to disclose who his financial backers are. How can he really expect the town to resolve to go forward with something when there is no disclosure about who is paying for it? That needs to be considered along with everything else (not in a vacuum, once the project itself is approved). I am not for or against the sports complex – I just don’t feel like we have enough info at this point.

  2. suzanne

    I URGE ALL TOWN OFFICIALS TO VOTE NO ON THIS PROPOSAL. Saugerties taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize private business. If Mr. Barese wants a $1/yr lease for 99 years on prime town land, what percentage of equity is he prepared to give the town (ie SAUGERTIES taxpayers) in the deal?

    Furthermore, why would we even consider converting a parcel of prime town land currently used for recreational purposes free of charge by all residents to a “pay to play” arena?

    I suggest Mr. Barese goes back to the drawing board. Better yet, let’s just say no and move on.

  3. D

    I think a 99 year $1 tax free lease has the word profit all over it. He obviously wants to sell the futures to the highest bidder without an equity stake for the tax payers. How about a 10 year lease with three 10 year options at prevailing rates plus property taxes. This way all tax payers benefit. Who will have to bear the cost of increased police and other essential services for a project like this. This is a total embarrassment to the Town to entertain.

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