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School-owned site suggested for sports field

A partnership among five government entities is recommending that a 12-acre site owned by the Batavia City School District that has lain idle for years be developed into a $1.5 million athletic field to accommodate youth sports.

The School Board already has approved $4,000 for an environmental grant, which, if successful, would provide $600,000 for infrastructure.

The other participants are the city, the Town of Batavia, the Town of Stafford and Genesee County. Each would apply for a $200,000 local government efficiency grant, which, along with the $600,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency, would finance the project at no cost to taxpayers.

The property in the city's upscale northeast neighborhood is one of two properties that the district purchased decades ago as sites for new elementary schools. However, a decline in population scuttled building plans. The other site -- on the city's southwestern border -- was sold a few years ago to Hospice and Healthcare as the location of a new patient facility. That plan apparently is also on hold.

Steven J. Mountain, Batavia town engineer and a member of the city Board of Education, headed a committee that hailed the project as an opportunity to provide various athletic fields, locker rooms, a concession stand, walking trail and a parking lot. The site is at the end of North Street Extension, a short dead-end residential street.

The site could be used by Batavia High School as well as a half-dozen amateur sports leagues, including youth football, soccer and rugby.

The district has Woodward Field for football and running, and a large field at John F. Kennedy Elementary School for field sports.

The steering committee, assisted by School Superintendent Margaret L. Puzio, used an athletic fields assessment that details the age and gender of area athletic groups, the types of sports and recreational fields needed, and the facilities available. Youth Football, one of the oldest leagues, had problems last year finding a playing field.

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