New tennis plan could be net gain for Chatham

CHATHAM–The Town Board has created a committee to review Thomas Road resident Adam Slone’s offer to build three new tennis courts at Crellin Park for Mr. Slone’s proposed Life Serve Tennis Camp.

Consideration of the new tennis courts at the town park is the latest twist in the saga of the tennis camp proposal. The plan was previously withdrawn after opposition from neighbors and the pending adoption by the Town Board of a moratorium prohibiting new projects on unpaved roads, and then it was resubmitted by Mr. Slone after the moratorium took effect.

Thomas Road is a dirt lane near Chatham Center.

Mr. Slone has requested a hardship waiver from the moratorium for his application to build the courts and host the camp on his Thomas Road property, and the Town Board had planned to continue a hearing on that matter at its regular meeting April 16.

But at that meeting Town Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt said the board had suspended the public hearing on the hardship waiver so board members could review a new proposal from Mr. Slone to build the courts at the town-owned park on Route 66 instead of the Thomas Road site. Mr. DeGroodt said a committee will now review the feasibility of Mr. Slone’s proposal.

Mr. DeGroodt and board member Henry Swartz will sit on the committee with Mr. Slone, Recreation Director Sheri Franks and the president of the Thomas Street Conservation Alliance, Karen Murphy. The Thomas Street Conservation Alliance (TSCA) has opposed plans for the camp because issues related to the construction of the tennis courts, the camp’s plan to transport the campers to and from Crellin Park on a regular basis for other forms of recreation and other issues.

Councilman Swartz is on also on a town committee reviewing the town zoning laws. That group, called the Zoning Implementation Committee (ZIC), has been meeting for several years to review whether the zoning laws match the goals in the town’s comprehensive plan. The ZIC hopes to present the proposed changes, which do address development on unpaved roads, sometime this year.

“Hopefully we’ll have some productive conversations,” said Mr. DeGroodt of the committee studying the latest plan for the camp. He said the committee’s meetings would be open to the public.

In other old business last week:

  • The board heard form an Old Chatham resident about the Albany Turnpike/East Chatham Bridge. She said she had not been at the last meeting, when the board discussed plans to change the approach to the bridge from the intersection with state Route 295, but that she is very concerned about the safety of crossing the bridge.

“We’re trying to work with the traffic pattern as best we can,” said Mr. DeGroodt of the plan to make a “T” intersection on and off Route 295 to slow traffic as drivers approach the one-lane bridge.

Highway Superintendent Joe Rickert said the plans are being sent to the state Department of Transportation for approval, but he said that “it could be a long time” before the plans get approved

  • The town engineers have issued their report on the costs for expanding Town Hall to also house the town court. Town Court currently convenes on the second floor of the Tracy Memorial Village Hall and the town pays rent to the Village of Chatham for the space.

On April 2, town and village officials met to discuss the rent agreement and plans to upgrade the Tracy building, which include making it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Village Hall has no elevator. Mayor Tom Curran said at the April 2 meeting that it would cost about $2.7 million for repairs and upgrades.

Mr. DeGroodt said at the Town Board meeting April 16 that the town engineers proposed “almost two and half million” dollars for a vertical (two-story) expansion of the town hall and $1.5 million for a one-story addition. He stressed that these are the first plans proposed. He said that the board has yet to ask what could be done for a lower price.

Mr. DeGroodt asked board members Bob Balcom and Mr. Swartz, who are the town Finance Committee, to look over the plans. Mr. Balcom said he had to questions about the proposed size of the court, which in the plans could hold 75 people, and said there was no plan to expand parking

  • Town Clerk Beth Ann Rippel reminded residents that there is a burn ban in the town until May 14
  • The board requested a speed limit reduction to 35 miles per hour on County Route 32 in North Chatham
  • The board plans to discuss requiring peddler permits for door-to-door sales in the town. Town Attorney Tal Rappelyea said he would draft a permit law for the board to review.

Ms. Rippel said, “We frequently get calls asking if the town gives peddlers permits.”

The next board meeting is May 21 at 7 p.m. at the town hall, Route 295.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .



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