Group’s pitch offers ‘trust’

Not often do residents approach local boards with a solution to a problem. But that is exactly what John Gullo did last week in Fredonia.

Gullo, speaking on behalf of the Fredonia Sports Complex Initiative that is made up of a number of district residents, wants the Board of Education to accept a proposal to build a new complex on top at the running track that is in existence on the main campus. Part of his pitch for a new complex is that Fredonia’s current football field, the Orange Bowl on Main Street, lacks the modern-day conveniences that almost every other area large school has.

“If we make any substantial changes to the Orange Bowl, we have to make it all handicapped-accessible,” Gullo said. “I recognize why nothing had been done (to renovate it). I understand, it’s very expensive to do anything. Football is one sport for one gender, one small subset of our students. That caused us to start looking at our backyard’s assets.”

The complex, for what the group envisions at the campus, comes with a hefty price tag of about $2.34 million. A large portion of that cost will be picked up by the state, but the rest of the funds – about $600,000 – would have to be picked up by the district. Gullo also has a plan for that.

“We have not raised one nickel as of yet, but we have received pledges from people who will donate money,” Gullo told the board. “I’m not going to collect anything until (the board) decides that (it wants) to build something. I’m not going to sell a product that I don’t know if you’ll ever agree to it. We will raise whatever it is that we need. Admittedly, that takes a measure of trust and lot of work on our side.”

At a time when taxpayers usually vote to pick up the tab far too often, this gesture by Gullo and the committee is one the Fredonia board must consider as a partnership.