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Lancaster

The town’s indoor baseball training facility finally has construction contracts in place after the Town Board this week approved them, but now there’s talk of possibly tweaking how fast the bond is paid off for the project.

The Lancaster-Depew Baseball League will pay the town back on the $1.7 million bond, which has been planned for a 15-year payback period. The league will operate it, but the town will own the 16,200-square-foot facility that is hoped to open at the end of this year.

But earlier this week, Supervisor Dino Fudoli announced publicly during a special meeting, that there may be interest in paying the bond under an accelerated schedule to finish five years earlier and save about $330,000 in interest payments.

Some of his board colleagues didn’t quite know what to think. Councilman Ronald Ruffino was clearly caught off guard.

“This would not represent what we originally agreed to,” Ruffino said. In a later interview, Ruffino said he felt “blind-sided” at the meeting by talk of possibly restructuring the payback period.

“I was taken by surprise. Certainly, I do not want to put any hardships on taxpayers at all, with this,” said Ruffino, a supporter of the project. “We want the minimal effect. I am not even clear what he (Fudoli) is talking about. It was just a tidbit dropped at the meeting.”

Fudoli had said he favored a 10-year payback to ensure less “risk” to taxpayers, if that was possible. “We can stick with the 15-year schedule and move forward, or accelerate over the 10-year schedule,” he said. “Does it impact the budget? Sure it does. We could find the money from other areas of the budget that would not hurt taxpayers.”

However, the league doesn’t sound ready to sign off on a 10-year payback plan, since the agreement with the town is for 15 years at what is expected to be a low-interest rate, possibly at 3 percent.

Ten years “is aggressive. It will be a function of how the capital campaign goes,” said Dave Mansell of the baseball league, who has been spearheading the campaign and push for the facility.

In an interview Friday, Mansell stuck by the town/league contract of a 15-year payback arrangement. “If we can do 10 years, we’d like to, but the agreement was for 15 years,” he said.

So far, the league has turned over $100,000 it has raised to the town. The league soon plans to kick off its capital campaign to tap area businesses, and also an internal campaign drive.

Resident Lee Chowaniec, who favors the complex, questioned the possible accelerated payback. “Where is the town getting the money?” he asked the Town Board. “In my opinion, this (project) has merit. But other people will nickel and dime this.”

Also this week:

• The Lancaster Youth Bureau’s Junior Fire Academy, presented in collaboration with the Twin District Fire Co., still has openings for this program, running from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 5-8 and Aug. 12-15 at the Twin District Fire Co. Students in Middle or High School are able to register at the Lancaster Youth Bureau, 200 Oxford Ave. or call 683-4444.

The program offers a chance to learn the basics of fire fighting, first aid and saving lives. It also addresses what to do to help family and friends during an emergency. There is a $15 registration fee for town residents and $25 for non-residents.

• The Lancaster Village Board will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at the Municipal Center, Broadway and Central Ave.