Mayor: Bowman Field landscaping paid in time for professional baseball

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana claims Bowman Field’s condition is ready for the Williamsport Crosscutters’ baseball home opener next Tuesday. He also said the landscaper who restored the field after an ice rink remained on the infield and damaged sod between October and April has been paid.

Financial records obtained Thursday by the Sun-Gazette indicate most of what Campana says is accurate.

Costs to have the field restored have been paid by the Williamsport Outlaws and Syracuse Junior Hockey Club, both of which paid $20,000, Campana said.

Records indicate that has happened. And City Council approved a $20,000 escrow should a situation arise as it did when the Outlaws left town without paying $54,757 in utility bills and rent, according to William E. Nichols Jr., city director of finance.

The $20,000, which the city kept in case of such contingencies, is to pay for the work done by landscaper, RD Slingerland, whose estimate was $16,000, Campana said.

City financial records indicated Slingerland was paid $12,000. A copy of the check indicating such payment and dated May 16 was obtained by the Sun-Gazette.

No other payments have been made to Slingerland, but Campana said Thursday a follow-up $4,000 will soon be written.

The project to restore the field had not cost any taxpayer dollars, said William C. Wright, general manager of the city Streets and Parks Department.

“Nothing as far as field restoration,” he said.

Slingerland normally does not have to replace sod, which he did in this case, Wright said.

The landscaper’s original proposal came in around $15,000, according to city financial records.

“It’s not unusual for change orders to occur with unforeseen conditions,” Nichols said.

Attempts to reach the landscaper for comment have not been successful.

Meanwhile, city Solicitor Norman Lubin filed a lawsuit March 30 against the Outlaws, the Syracuse nonprofit and Kristen Rooney, the Outlaws’ owner, for $54,757 in unpaid utility bills and rent, according to Campana.

That is true, and Lubin is seeking a county jury trial within the next six to eight months.

On Thursday night at the council meeting, a group calling itself, Let’s Build an Arena and consisting of individuals who want to see an indoor civic arena with ice built at the former YMCA’s Pickelner Arena, presented the city a $3,000 check.

That amount will be applied to the $54,757 debt owed to the city, Campana said.

As of this week, the Outlaws have paid $7,500 of $15,000 rent, according to city finance records. The checks arrived to the city from a group called Williamsport Ice Arena, according to the records.

“We will do everything legally possible to recoup what’s owed to the city,” Campana said. “It is their legal and moral responsibility to pay their bills.” Campana calculates the amount of debt the city has been reduced to $47,757.

Lubin has requested a jury trial in Lycoming County Court in the next six to eight months, Campana said.

The field has been used to play 11 games in the PIAA tournament that began May 25 and continued through June 3, according to Justin Simpson, city recreation director.

The Crosscutters, a tenant of the stadium, play their home opener 7:05 p.m. Tuesday.

“We’re looking forward to the 2013 season,” said Gabe Sinicropi, Crosscutters’ vice president of marketing and public relations.