By Kristin Schultz
Babe Ruth baseball players in the spring will round the bases of the newly dubbed M. Joe Landry Fields in Blatnick Park.
The Niskayuna Town Board sponsored a ceremonial resolution to name the ball fields after the outgoing supervisor at a mid-December meeting. The resolution was read and passed unanimously at the end of Landry’s final board meeting, which featured a gallery of county Democrats and supportive townspeople.
Landry has been supervisor since 2008, and in November lost his re-election bid to Republican and political newcomer Yasmine Syed.
His departure comes after a heated election season dominated by controversial mailers and accusations that Landry retaliated against a court employee who reported safety concerns to the state Department of Labor.
The resolution to rename the fields credited Landry with overseeing infrastructure improvements, clean energy efforts, improvements to town parks and “significant economic growth.” The resolution listed among those economic developments Shoprite Plaza, Mansion Square, Niskayuna Commerce Park, Upper Union Street streetscapes and the Albany Med building, as well as the recently approved Rivers Ledge housing project.
Also cited were the expansion of community programs and his involvement in regional government.
Earlier in the meeting, Niskayuna residents Kevin Walsh, Bill Chapman, Julie McDonald and others offered congratulations and thanks to Landry, as did each Town Board member.
Denise Murphy McGraw told the story of a diving board at the town pool that broke during a previous administration and went unrepaired for a season.
“That never would have happened under Joe Landry,” Murphy McGraw said.
She went on to praise Landry for making the town better, from strong financial ratings to being named by Zippia.com as one of the state’s happiest towns in 2015.
“Joe Landry has been able to do that for us. This town will miss him, and I count on his continued counsel,” Murphy McGraw said.
County attorney and fellow top Democrat Chris Gardner was among the local politicians in attendance at the Dec. 19 meeting. Rotterdam Town Clerk Diane Marco publicly congratulated and thanked Landry for his service and said she feels it’s a loss that he’s leaving office. Princetown Supervisor Louis Esposito was also in attendance.
For his part, Landry thanked the voters and leaders of the Democratic Party who supported and trusted him. He thanked committee members and Democratic elected officials.
“Governing has been a team effort,” Landry said. “I’ve been surrounded by talented and dedicated board members.”
He also said he will miss seeing and working with town employees, and that he enjoyed the daily interactions with them. He urged them to keep doing a great job.
“I wish you all the best of luck. Thank you,” Landry said in closing.
‘Happy to hear it’
Former president of Niskayuna Baseball Tom Spataro worked for years alongside Landry and was pleased to hear the fields are now named in his honor.
“I’m happy to hear it,” Spataro said. “Joe is a huge baseball fan. We worked well together and accomplished many great things for Niskayuna Baseball.”
Spataro went on to credit Landry with providing additional town resources, including manpower and engineering services, when the baseball fields needed to be rebuilt. Spataro said Landry regularly and enthusiastically supported the players and teams, recognizing their accomplishments at Town Board meetings.
Another significant contribution, Spataro said, was Landry’s work to make sure the organization was robust and healthy. Instead of different organizations being responsible for each age level of players — Cal Ripkin, Babe Ruth and Connie Mack leagues — there is only one Niskayuna Baseball that oversees all ages and all interest levels, from recreation league to elite travel teams.
“One managing entity brings the best baseball opportunities to the kids in town,” Spataro said. “Joe felt strongly that you had to have a mix of all kinds of kids to have a viable program.”
Spataro said perhaps Landry’s greatest contribution to baseball was installing playground equipment at Blatnick Park, which created a family-friendly atmosphere. The equipment provides a place for younger siblings to play during baseball games.
There are seven fields at the Blatnick Park complex, many of which are sponsored by local businesses and one that has been memorialized in the name of Anthony Tebano, a local player who died in 2012. Town officials said all current signage will remain as is.
Highway Superintendent Ray Smith and the board members presented Landry with the sign denoting the fields’ new name, and it will be installed at a location to be determined by Smith in coordination with Niskayuna Baseball. The sign is expected to go up before opening day 2018.