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A pair of boxers square off in the IBAM gym, currently housed in the old Village of Monticello firehouse, under the watchful eye of a referee. Starting in January, they will need to find a new home to practice the “Sweet Science.”

IBAM will need to find new home

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — October 15, 2010 — During last week’s Monticello Village Board meeting, Village Manager John Barbarite said he’d informed IBAM – the International Boxing Academy of Monticello – that it should start vacating its space in the old firehouse in January.
He expects renovations to the entire village hall complex to begin in February or March, which includes expanding the police station into the former firehouse and taking down a wall in the area IBAM utilizes for its gym and youth programs.
“Where IBAM is, it’s going to be a major construction zone,” he told the board.
Barbarite said after the meeting that he doesn’t have any other village-owned space to offer them. He also said that while IBAM is welcome to discuss moving back in after renovations are complete, the village may have other ideas in mind for that space, including relocating its Ted Stroebele Recreation Center-based rec programs to that location.
In the meantime, he told the board IBAM wants to charge a $10/person admission fee for those who want to watch the boxing matches.
Mayor Gordon Jenkins, Trustee Victor Marinello and Deputy Mayor TC Hutchins expressed reservations, as the village’s understanding with IBAM, a private non-profit, is that it must offer its services for free. (The village does not charge for the space, nor does IBAM utilize village funds.)
However, Rue urged the board to first talk with IBAM officials, who were not present at Tuesday’s meeting. Marinello agreed, but it wasn’t clear if such a meeting will happen.
As of this week, that meeting had apparently not yet occurred. According to IBAM Manager Ed Branch, the only communication on this issue has been from the village management to IBAM President Ray Sheenan.
Sheenan confirmed this week that the last time he and Barbarite spoke in person was in July, when he was told the renovations would be minor and not require IBAM’s relocation.
Then an email arrived last week from Barbarite, said Sheenan, saying just the opposite.
“I feel disappointed,” Sheenan said. “We’re almost four years old, and this is something we’ve invested a lot of time and effort in.”
Sheenan said seven volunteer trainers have donated over 13,000 manhours of work with dozens of children throughout IBAM’s history.
Thousands of dollars have been invested, too, through grants from the Cappelli Foundation and NYS Senator John Bonacic – used to rehab the space IBAM was given.
Sheenan has not talked to Barbarite since last week’s emails, but Branch bitterly claimed this latest action exposes village leaders’ intention to push IBAM out of the ring – and possibly out of commission while a new location is sought (those with potential space are welcome to call Branch at 798-6008).
“They haven’t given us anything but grief and threatened to shut us down,” Branch alleged. “I really don’t understand that, because we get 20-30 kids there a day.”
He acknowledged that many of those children live outside Monticello – which has created friction with village leaders who believe the village-owned space should be used primarily for the benefit of village residents – but pointed out that the program gives kids of all ages self-esteem, confidence and critical physical and mental skills.
As for the admission fee Barbarite talked about, Branch said it’s just a requested donation, not a required fee.
Ticking off a list of village actions taken against IBAM over the past year, from insurance issues to forcing IBAM to give up a streetside room for one in the back, Branch charged that the mayor and his supporters are abusing their power.
“I really think it’s all personal. ... They want to take credit for the boxing program, but they can’t,” Branch said. “It comes down to them squeezing us out of there slowly.”

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