May 5—PLATTSBURGH — Reflecting on the Crete Memorial Civic Center's latest indoor sports season, coordinator Steven Peters was proud of its success.
"This was a win-win-win solution," he said. "I was able to implement programming and do something that I know how to do and make it work for the community.
"The community received the benefit of having these programs continue on and it happened at a time when — I didn't even recognize this when it happened, not until two weeks in — this was the only thing that kids had to do," he continued.
"Then also, the city was able to have these programs in this facility continue, but not have the oversight and the expense that went along with it."
The Crete Center, built in 1974 on Beach Road in the City of Plattsburgh, was closed when concerns of the novel coronavirus first arose more than a year ago. While it typically hosted large events year long, it was widely known as an indoor sports arena during the colder months of the year.
Peters, the city's former recreation superintendent of 10 years, was a key player in those annual sports leagues and received Plattsburgh City approval last fall to host them as a third party entity during the 2020/21 season.
It was to cost the city an estimated $17,000 to $18,000 more than it would to keep the facility closed. As previously reported by the Press-Republican, the nearly-50-year-old center had operational costs that far outweighed its revenues.
"Sometimes on the field, on the court, on the track, individuals are going to walk away with things that are really the intangibles, like sportsmanship, teamwork, hard work, dedication and a health and wellness mindset," Peters had told the Press-Republican in late 2020. "Those are really the soft skills that people need in a successful community anywhere.
"If we can provide that at what amounts to an extremely low cost, then we really should do that."
A majority of the 2020 City Common Council had agreed with Peters, OK'ing the leagues to take place.
Between early November and late April, more than 1,200 soccer, lacrosse or flag football games were played there. That meant more than 4,300 individuals were in and out of the Crete Center each week.
While about 10 percent of games were rescheduled when teams had some COVID-positive players, Peters was happy to say, despite some pandemic concerns at the start, the league remained free of a COVID emergency.
"We didn't have to cancel or shut down the facility," he noted. "We had zero documented cases of COVID in the building and zero documented cases of COVID transferring from person-to-person in the facility.
"We followed all of the protocols that the health department laid out for us. I think that went pretty well."
Mayor Christopher Rosenquest said the city was now in discussions with the former rec superintendent to pen a contract for next year.
While Peters expected the leagues to return to the Crete Center this fall and was planning internal changes to help them run even more smoothly, he had doubts with the building's long-term future.
"There is a future for this program, but there's not really a future with this building," he said. "The structure is fine, but the rest of the building — there are lots of question marks."
Peters noted a leaky roof that sometimes led to hours of shoveling water out of a hallway there. He said the city's Department of Public Works had been very responsive in keeping up with roof patching and noted play was not disrupted due to the needed repairs.
He was crunching numbers and looking into costs of another building to carry on the winter leagues.
"I don't believe that this program has a future at this property and I think that's OK."
Email McKenzie Delisle: