Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon has vetoed an effort by the legislature to spend $2 million to fix up the Salina softball fields where he wants to build a $25 million sports complex.
Legislators approved the spending last week as an amendment to the 2022 budget. It was introduced by Legislator Mary Kuhn, a Democrat from DeWitt.
The project was intended to fix up the fields at Hopkins Road Park in time for next year’s softball season while McMahon’s idea to build a sports complex is under consideration. The legislature removed McMahon’s request to build the new soccer and lacrosse complex on the site and put the money in a contingency fund. That requires him to return to the legislature with a new request and, they hope, a better argument for putting it on the site over the objection of neighbors.
Kuhn said more than 300 people have signed a petition in opposition.
Kuhn said softball organizers need to start planning now for next year’s tournaments.
“If they are not being planned right now, we’re losing them and once people find other places to go, we’re losing them again,” she said.
In the veto memo to legislators, McMahon said the success of Hopkins Road Park is, in part, why it was identified as the ideal location for a lacrosse and soccer complex. Spending $2 million to improve the softball facility “would directly inhibit the expressed intent of enhancing Hopkins Road Park into a state of the art lacrosse and soccer complex.”
McMahon argues that an investment in a sports complex would enhance tourism and increase sales tax collections. The tourism industry was the hardest hit by Covid-19 shutdowns in 2020. He has also said the project would give a boost to hotels that could be hurt by the upcoming relocation of I-81.
The legislature can override a veto with a two-thirds majority. But they are unlikely to have enough votes.
The legislature approved the spending last week with a vote of 9-8. The six Democrats voted in favor and drew three votes from the Republican majority. Republicans Debra Cody, Ken Bush and James Rowley joined Democrats in favor of fixing up the softball fields.
Along with the sports complex, the legislature set aside McMahon’s request to spend $85 million to build an aquarium at the Syracuse Inner Harbor.
Contact Michelle Breidenbach | firstname.lastname@example.org | 315-470-3186.