By DAVE GYMBURCH Staff writer
TOWN OF LEE — Funding request disputes involving adult soccer and youth tee-ball at the town park were in play this week before the Town Board, resulting in one approval and one tabling.
The board voted 4-1 to provide $2,147 to the Town of Lee Soccer Club for one team, as councilman Patrick Hetherington expressed his opposition with an emphatic "hell, no" during the roll-call vote. The club’s teams have included ages 16 and up. Hetherington objected to the funding compared to what he says is less support for younger-age teams, but other board members disagreed.
In addition, the board tabled Hetherington’s request to buy four 12-foot permanent benches for $365 each to be placed near tee-ball fields, after Supervisor John Urtz questioned whether funding could be approved under the town’s new contract with the Town of Lee Little League association for park usage. Hetherington is an officer in the association.
The disagreements continued the periodic sparring involving Hetherington and the rest of the board since Hetherington was elected effective January 2010.
¿ The board had approved $5,800 for three adult soccer teams in each of the last two years, with Hetherington voting against it. Hetherington objected to the funding that basically offsets registration fees and other league expenses to lower the costs for participants, but that fees are not similarly offset for over 400 participants in AYSO/American Youth Soccer Organization games at the park.
Urtz countered that the town "did the same thing" in prior years for support of adult baseball leagues at the park, and has "looked at it as youths growing into it" so they could "continue the sport;" the town helped AYSO get established at the park by buying equipment and constructing a storage building, plus developing and maintaining playing fields, he said afterward.
¿ Hetherington requested permanently anchored benches by the tee-ball fields as a safer alternative to unsecured benches used by players as young as age 4 or 5. But Urtz said that under the new Little League contract, the town would not be funding capital purchases. Hetherington responded the benches would be an infrastructure item of benefit to all residents. Councilman Karl Matt then suggested a tabling.