TOWN OF UNION (WBNG) -- Controversy surrounding a local sports complex is growing, along with the grass. Multiple people have reached out to 12 News, asking why the area once known as the Brixius Sports Complex no longer being cared for. It is located off of Taft Road in the Town of Union. The area has yet to be mowed this year.
Ralph Barton is one of several seniors who go to Brixius Creek every day. The grass is knee-high and Barton says he didn't know who was responsible for mowing it.
"Families can't come down here. They can't play ball. They can't fly a kite. They can't picnic out in the park," Barton said. "Basically all we want is the grass mowed."
There is a backstop and plenty of room to run around, but this technically is not a park. It is a watershed, owned by Broome County. Up until this year, the town of Union used it as a park with County permission.
"The Town of Union wanted to develop a playing field area for their youth sports,"said Leslie Boulton of the Broome County Department of Public Works. "So we entered into a agreement with them where they could use our property. They developed playing fields for their youth sports leagues, the agreement in place said they would maintain it as a park however they wanted to use it on our property."
According to Boulton, that agreement expired in 2005, but the Town and County continued to honor it.
Town of Union Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ray Vanderpool told 12 News on Tuesday the Town of Union doesn't use the land as a park anymore. He said he no longer has the man power and resources to mow and maintain it. So, it is back in County control.
Barton and others have pitched in to have pathways mowed, which the County says could be a liability issue.
Ultimately, this "thought-to-be-park" has become a casualty of budget cuts and lack of resources. This watershed may have been mowed regularly before, but it won't be going forward. Because it is a watershed, Broome County is only obligated to mow it once a year.
"Our policy for our watersheds is that we maintain them for passive recreation," said Boulton." Which means we let people go in during the daylight hours and walk, walk their dog, fish is the ponds. We don't maintain any of them as park lands."
Broome DPW said the backstop will be removed by this time next year. All of the signage, trash cans and picnic tables have already been removed from Brixius. It is scheduled for its annual mowing later this summer.