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Opening of sports complex delayed

Plans to open an indoor sports park in Hamburg by January have fallen through, and the developer is accusing the town of stalling on the project.

"They've thrown every obstacle they can in front of this," said Michael D'Amico.

Not true, according to the town building inspector.

The Zoning Board of Appeals granted a use variance Aug. 16, and the Planning Board approved the project Dec. 7. Building Inspector Kurt Allen said he is waiting to hear from New York State if a sprinkler system -- a costly item -- will be required in the building.

"I'm working with his newly hired architect so he can make a complete application for a permit," Allen said.

D'Amico, who runs dozens of sports leagues through M/ile Sports, wants to transform a mostly vacant industrial warehouse on Route 5 (Lake Shore Road) once used by Sweeney Specialty Metals into the Waterfront Sports and Entertainment Center, where up to four games would be played on 80,000 square feet of turf.

The park would add needed practice space in the Southtowns for soccer, softball, football, kickball, lacrosse and other sports. D'Amico envisions adult leagues playing in the evenings, while some school teams could practice in the afternoons.

M/ile Sports was ordered out of the building in November, when a building inspector discovered several people working in the building without a permit. D'Amico said workers laid down green turf and were cleaning up the area because he planned to have an open house.

"We made the mistake of going in the building while the Planning Board was reviewing things," D'Amico said.

Allen said D'Amico was cited for performing work without a building permit, using the building without a certificate of occupancy and changing the occupancy of a building without approval from code enforcement officials.

"He had fliers going out to various organizations," Allen said. "That prompted us to take that action and post the building."

Allen said the key issue for the building now is if a sprinkler system is needed. If there will be spectators to sporting events there, town officials believe fire codes require sprinklers.

D'Amico said that the town has an opinion from New York State that sprinklers are not required and that the company was told over the summer it does not have to install them. Allen said he is requesting a commissioner's interpretation of the code, and he is hoping for answers this week.