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Town takes over control of soccer complex

The West Seneca Town Board announced last fall that it would take control of its soccer complex from the nonprofit West Seneca Soccer Association.

Monday night, the board made it official, approving new rules for the 46-acre complex of fields on Seneca Street. Chief among them are that the town will handle all scheduling, set fees, collect the money and handle complaints.

It also will take care of all maintenance and utilities, with "no additional positions" to be added to its labor bargaining unit, according to the resolution.

"We're hopeful this will take care of a lot of the concerns," Supervisor Paul T. Clark said, referring to complaints from neighbors in the Parkside Drive area about noise, rude adult players and lack of lease payments from the Soccer Association. "There are a few final details to be worked out, but the bulk of the policies are now established, the way the soccer fields will be run and operated."

Among the details are what will happen to the men's soccer league that played at the park and how the town will deal with renting fields to local college teams. Both were sore spots with neighbors.

"That's up to the town now," said Randy Pawlik, who took over at the start of the year as president of the Soccer Association. "They're going to set the parameters for what they want out of anybody else renting the fields."

Pawlik's group is set for its travel and house leagues. The town has received a check for $42,000 from the Soccer Association for use of the soccer park for the coming season.

Pawlik said the association contributes $35 per player to the town for use of its fields. When players are registered, they write a second check to the association for program-related costs such as uniforms, balls and referee services.

Clark said the town has looked over the association's records and found that it was bringing in about $60,000 a year while running the complex, with costs of $65,000 to $80,000.

"That includes utilities, all of the lawn care, field maintenance, all of the operations needed to maintain that facility, including the public portion," he said. "It's just not going to work for the Soccer Association.

"They have not been able to maintain their cash flow properly, and they certainly have not been able to generate any additional revenue for the town."

The original lease agreement called for the Soccer Association to pay for the expenses of running the park, plus pay the town $130,000 a year for most of a 20-year agreement. The group never came close to being able to make those kinds of payments.

Pawlik confirmed that his group wasn't able to afford the soccer complex but took umbrage at suggestions from neighbors that there had been financial improprieties.

"There was a two-year agreement with Buffalo Niagara Sports to manage the complex, and we didn't have information from them," he said, explaining the difficulties in figuring out the actual cost of running the complex. "And we also lost our treasurer, so we had to go back to the old one.

"But there just wasn't the money generated that we had hoped at the beginning. That's been the real problem."

e-mail: eploetz@buffnews.com

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