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Hamburg may call a freeze on ice rink project

Two Hamburg town councilmen are in favor of putting a freeze on the proposed $30 million public/private ice rink project.

The Buffalo News reported Sunday that the Erie County District Attorney's Office is investigating an allegation of a bribe in connection with the project.

The councilmen, speaking to a town council chambers filled with residents Monday night, said the Kaleta Group's proposal for a $15 million private ice rink facility should be thoroughly vetted before the town goes forward.

"My God, if somebody is willing to do it without the taxpayer's dollar, let's at least take a look at them and support them if that's something they're going to do," Councilman Tom Best Jr. said.

He added that the town should put a 90-day halt or freeze on its project with Sportstar Capital to see how the Kaleta Group project proceeds.

District attorney investigating report of bribe in Hamburg rink project

The town has proposed partnering with Sportstar Capital of Toronto to develop a multipurpose sports complex including two ice rinks, a multipurpose turf field, gym, snack bar and meeting rooms.

The Kaleta Group, including former Buffalo Sabres player Patrick Kaleta, working with Libertore Management Group and Ellicott Development, has submitted preliminary plans to the town and is proceeding with construction drawings for a similar, but totally private, facility at the former McKinley Park Inn.

In a prior vote, Best voted against negotiating with Sportstar, and Councilman Michael Quinn and Supervisor Steven Walters were in favor of a contract with the Toronto company to study the feasibility, prepare a financial analysis and acquire the property for the sportsplex.

Quinn said now that the Kaleta Group has submitted plans to the town, the town should take a breather.

"Hopefully the Kaletas will come forward and really do it this time, but I am not opposed to just putting a stay on it (Sportstar) to see if they move forward. If not we can look toward doing this project," Quinn said.

Walters has been a supporter of the public/private venture, and said it is a good project.

Reaction is mixed as Hamburg unveils plans for $30 million sports complex

"The board has spent the better part of almost a year and a half reviewing documents, asking every and all questions you can think of. Every question we asked we received an answer to," he said. "I think this is a good project. We do need more ice in this town. There's no question about this."

But questions remain with the town's partnership with Sportstar.

While the location has been identified, the feasibility study has not been completed to the town's satisfaction. And the Hamburg Hawks Hockey Association, which would be the largest anchor, decided to commit to going with the Kaleta Group.

Meanwhile, a group, called the Hamburg Taxpayers Against Public Funded Sports Complex, has formed.

Nick Budney, a member of the group, asked why the town did not solicit proposals for the work, and if a Toronto company could legally do work in the United States without an American subsidiary.

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