Milford Backs Off On New Berlin Land Deal

By: Tyler Murphy

Milford backs off on New Berlin land deal

NEW BERLIN – After more than two years of disagreement over a proposed land deal, Milford Academy sent a letter to village trustees Tuesday announcing the school no longer wishes to buy the property.

The word from Milford comes about a month after the village board voted to revise its latest offer to the preparatory school. The offer would have sold 10 acres of land, called Fish Field, to Milford Academy for about $4,600 an acre. The parcels of land are located just behind Milford’s main campus (the former New Berlin High School) and were to be developed into a home field for the Milford Falcons football team.

The school scrapped its intentions to construct a “high school-like” stadium at the New Berlin campus in 2009 and has played its recent home games at the Norwich High School, said Milford Director Bill Chaplick.

The land agreement would have required Milford to allow the Unadilla Valley Youth Baseball and Softball Association to use Fish Field until March 2012, when alternative fields currently under construction could then accommodate the players. The agreement also included a deadline of March 2011 for Milford to accept the new offer.

New Berlin Trustee Terry Potter told board members he met with Chaplick this week and said the issue of mandating the use of the property for the little league and the imposed deadline to sign off on the agreement were the primary factors in Milford walking away from the deal.

“I think the short of it was, it’s his position the property, if sold to him, it should be his to do with as he pleases,” Potter told the board.

New Berlin Mayor Wade Schrag read the letter to the board from Milford’s attorney Francis W. Wood which stated, “I have spoken with William Chaplick who told me that for reasons which he has explained at length to the media (and which have been published in the local newspaper), the purchase will not proceed.”

Youth Days Committee President Larissa Hanslmaier told the board Milford notified the non-profit group that due to field space issues, the school would be developing its property along South Main Street, where the New Berlin Youth Days has held it last 50 years of summer celebrations. Hanslmaier said the challenges faced in relocating the event would make it impossible to continue.

“Going forward without the location, in all likelihood this will be the last year for Youth Days. We really need to be in the center of town,” she said.

Milford bought the Main Street park location eight years ago and agreed at the time to rent the site to Youth Days for at least the following year, said Chaplick.

He said Milford needed the area to develop practice fields for incoming students in 2012. He said Youth Days attracts “thousands of visitors and heavy tractor trailer sized equipment” and causes significant damage to the grounds, making them unusable as playing fields.

“We love Youth Days, (committee coordinator) Larry Lloyd has always been great and for the last seven years we’ve been glad to volunteer the property for the event, but things are developing here at the school. We need to put the school’s needs and our students’ needs first,” said Chaplick, in a Jan. 24 interview.

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