Rob Potter | Democrat
Tusten Chiefs coach Joe Curreri (5) and assistant Cliff Kelly (6) will have to scramble to find a field on which to play their remaining games.
Kang wants more time to decide on schools’ purchases
By Dan Hust
NARROWSBURG Developer Ilwon Kang confirmed this week that he plans on acquiring 14 acres of Sullivan West land off Kirk Road on July 1, and not before, so that the school district can put the proceeds towards its brand new fiscal year.
He aims to use the baseball field in the long term for special events and parking in conjunction with the Narrowsburg school up the hill, said SW Superintendent Ken Hilton, which Kang hopes to purchase this summer to turn into an 80-room hotel.
However, the school itself is a separate sale, and Kang said he’s waiting for the Town of Tusten’s zoning rewrite to be completed before he proceeds.
The school building sits in a residential zone that prohibits hotels, and Kang said he doesn’t want to buy it and immediately have to approach the town for a variance.
The zoning rewrite may turn that parcel into a commercial zone, though that’s not yet guaranteed and a decision from town officials may be weeks or even months away.
Meanwhile, Kang’s due diligence period with SW is about to expire, so he planned to approach the school board for another time extension.
Hilton said yesterday that that request had just been formally made this week. The board could reject the extension, though with a $700,000 purchase at stake, it’s likely the board majority will agree to it.
Hilton confirmed the board would discuss it at last night’s meeting, which occurred past press time.
As for Kang’s plan to buy the Delaware Valley campus in Callicoon for $2.3 million, “that’s going smoothly,” Kang said. “We’re definitely going to do a boarding school there.”
Still, he intends to buy the DV and Narrowsburg schools at the same time, so his extension request is for both properties.
Tusten Chiefs strike out with Narrowsburg field’s purchase
By Dan Hust
NARROWSBURG Sullivan West Superintendent Ken Hilton found himself this week both celebrating and apologizing over the coming sale of 14 acres of district-owned property in Narrowsburg.
Developer Ilwon Kang confirmed his intent to purchase the land by July 1 and initially use it as a carnival site for the Narrowsburg Chamber of Commerce’s Fourth of July celebrations.
But district officials didn’t realize the Tusten Chiefs teenage baseball team had games scheduled to play on the acreage’s athletic field games they now must relocate.
“All I can do is apologize,” said Hilton early this week.
Those apologies were echoed by Kang and Chamber of Commerce President Jane Luchsinger, who also were caught unawares.
“Frankly, we did not know their season continued into the July 4 weekend,” said Luchsinger. “No one told us about that.”
Kang said he offered the use of the field after the Fourth of July weekend, but the games scheduled for July 1 and 2 must be moved.
“That [the carnival] is something we made a commitment to,” he explained.
And come July 1, Kang intends to own the property anyway.
Tusten Chiefs Coach Joe Curreri appreciates the apologies and good will.
“He actually seems like a very nice guy,” Curreri said right after a phone conference with Kang, who offered to bus players to an alternate field. “I’m not going to blame this all on him. Basically, he said there’s nothing he can do.”
But even the promise of future accommodation on that field can’t dispel Curreri’s deep disappointment.
“I kind of feel shafted from the school district and the Chamber,” he lamented.
While the carnival that’s displacing the Chiefs is under the Chamber’s purview, the team’s permission to use the field came from Sullivan West through a facilities use permit that Curreri filed at the beginning of this year and which supposedly guaranteed the team access to the baseball diamond through July 17.
The Chamber actually hasn’t yet filed for such a permit for the carnival, said Hilton, though Luchsinger was working on it this week.
The lack of a permit application from the Chamber an earlier filing of which might have revealed the existence of the Chiefs’ permit and the excitement over Kang’s offer to go to closing led the district to unintentionally overlook the baseball team, Hilton admitted.
“I guess I should have realized that when Ilwon was talking about the carnival, but I didn’t,” he stated. “I knew people used the field, but I didn’t know of the existence of this teener league.”
Yet it’s an arrangement Curreri’s set up each of the 10 years he’s coached the 15-player team of 13-15-year-old boys, some from New York, some from Pennsylvania.
When Narrowsburg’s students were merged into SW’s Jeffersonville and Lake Huntington campuses more than five years ago, SW stopped regularly maintaining the field, which sits downhill from the Narrowsburg school.
So Curreri himself started mowing it, eventually gaining some assistance from the Town of Tusten.
“The only reason that field is even usable is because of us,” he observed, “and now we can’t use it.”
He doubts it will be usable after the carnival and all its foot traffic exits.
The next closest field in town is set up for softball, not baseball, said Curreri, and the school district’s offer of the Lions’ Field in Jeffersonville is unworkable because of the distance.
“That’s 25 minutes from Narrowsburg,” he said of a group that competes against Pa.-based teams. “It’s hard enough to get some of these teams over here to play us.”
While the Delaware Youth Center’s field in Callicoon may be an option, Curreri’s worried the Chiefs have irreparably lost their home field advantage particularly significant for a team that has won four out of the five past seasons.
“We’ll have to find something to make it work, I guess,” he surmised. “Nothing can be changed for it [the carnival], which kind of stinks for us.”
(Those interested in helping the Chiefs find an alternative field are welcome to e-mail Curreri at firstname.lastname@example.org.)