City officials face criticism during Crete Center info tours

Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 4:16 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - During a Tuesday evening public tour of Plattsburgh’s Crete Center, city officials got an earful of comments from area residents opposed to tearing down the aging recreational facility.

The building shut down after an electrical fire in May. Plattsburgh Mayor Chris Rosenquest in a memo last month said the building is looking at a minimum of $45,000 to get it back up and running, $3 million to renovate, or just under $1 million to tear down. But the building, which hosts hundreds of adult and kids recreational leagues, has a big fan base eager to keep it on life support.

Kids in sports jerseys filled the Crete entrance Tuesday night for the informational tour put on by the city. “We play year-round soccer and this is a huge part of making that happen,” said Jana Wynnik, a Dannemora parent.

Inside the building, with the lights still shut off from the electrical fire, the flash-light-guided tour proceeded. The families are members of Adirondack Coast Sports, the league run by Steve Peters, the city’s former recreation manager. Peters leases the center from November through May for indoor sports leagues and says about 1,700 kids are enrolled in winter sports. But the Mayor says only 30% of those kids are from the city and that no other communities pay for maintenance.

“We all have to work together to make this happen, it can’t just be the city of Plattsburgh,” said Plattsburgh City Councilor Mike Kelly.

After the fire, the city deemed the building unsafe and the repairs too costly. Peters’s contract was terminated. The city says the building should be demolished because of problems including structural damage, sewage issues, and a leaking roof. “We fix a few and a dozen more pop up the next time it rains,” said Matt Miller, Plattsburgh’s director of community development.

“And when we play soccer, we put a few cups there and move them around and we enjoy ourselves,” said one parent.

“I can tell you right now, you ask us --1,700 families -- to give $100, were going to do it,” said another parent.

Add that to that another $100,000 already offered by New York Assemblyman Billy Jones.

“If you want to come up with all the moneys and all the financials and all the work to get this building open, please do it. Please do it,” said Mayor Rosenquest said.

The players want one last season and for the city and county to come up with a plan for future play. “We know that the building is in rough shape -- it has been for years -- but just closing it down without another option takes away opportunity for so many kids,” Wynnik said.

Rosenquest says the city says can’t keep putting the bill on taxpayers. “It’s really hard to justify spending additional money on a building that we know will be demolished,” he said.

The mayor says there is no set date for demolition and that that discussion will happen after the budget is approved. He says his office and Peters are looking for another building to house sports but likely won’t find something in time for this fall.

The mayor is offering a second public informational tour Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m.

Related Story:

Plattsburgh debates future of Crete Civic Center