The Fairgrounds complex is situated on what is described in the State Constitution as park land. Land in the public domain reserved for public use.
We routinely allow commercial endeavors on the property. Everything from trade shows, to hockey to concerts. There is always a question of where the line is between the public good and opportunity to use park land for commercial gain. A privately held entity months ago began seeking investors for an indoor tennis court which would be built on City property now used for equestrian events. There apparently was an assumption Heaven and Earth moved be moved when the time came to seek approval.
That is why there is a high bar to turning over control of real property now designated as park land. The City of Watertown would have to determine such a move is in the public interest and then request home rule legislation from Albany to allow for lease of the land. That was done some years back for the former Ultimate Goal fitness center now owned by the Y. It's not a perfunctory process, and the process clearly starts with the local government's request.
I was puzzled Monday when a collegue told me this matter was never brought to City Council because those advocating it were just simple folk who didn't understand the intricacies of dealing with City Hall. Apparently Council Members Burns, Macaluso and I were among those intricacies.
Poppycock. The people involved are among the most intelligent, and politically saavy people in the community. There was no naivete here.
Watertown Daily Times | Y indoor tennis courts needs Watertown City Council, state approvals