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TOWN OF NIAGARA – The Town Board will consider spending $228,700 to build eight dugouts at four town park baseball diamonds.

The resolution to draw money from the capital projects fund is on the agenda for the Tuesday meeting and has been discussed by the councilmen at various work sessions for the past three months.

Supervisor Steven Richards said after the work session Thursday that he wanted the item to be up for approval at the regular meeting.

The cost, which represents the lowest bid received on the project, was an eye-opener for most of the councilmen. The original estimate discussed at a May workshop was a total of about $72,000 for all the work, according to the discussion.

However, when the bids came in with the highest at $328,000, many of the councilmembers displayed signs of sticker shock. Councilmen Marc Carpenter, Rob Clark, and Charles Teixeira all said the cost was much higher than they had imagined.

“It was supposed to be $8,000 each,” Clark said last week. “That money could be used for so much more.”

But Richards and Deputy Supervisor Danny Sklarski defended the expenditure as an investment to protect the baseball players and the town.

Richards conceded that spending “$200,000 for six weeks of baseball is a lot of money. But, he said, the board needed to weigh the expense against the ramifications of “a kid getting hit in the head.”

Sklarski cautioned the board to think the situation through.

“Before you decide, consider that a lawsuit could make it look like chump change. You would wish you had spent it,” he said recently.

Town Attorney Michael Risman noted at a previous work session that “one claim of a head injury could be very costly for the town.” During the discussions, it was noted by officials that about 270 youngsters play baseball every season in town parks and there are reports of about four to five injuries last year.

Richards said some of the costs are associated with the requirement to make the dugouts compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as building them “vandal proof,” and providing wider concrete pads.