COLONIE — The Capital District Celtic Cultural Association wants permission to combine four different lots along Consaul Road and build two athletic fields.
The fields would be primarily used for traditional Irish games like Gaelic football and hurling, Kevin Roe, of the Celtic association, told the Colonie Town Board recently.
“We would be using it almost exclusively, but if the Colonie Soccer Club needed an ancillary field and we weren’t using it we would not be opposed,” he said. “We would not be like Afrim’s. We would not be renting it out. We would not have lights and there is no PA system so it would not be conducive to a commercial facility.”
Right now the players rent fields when they play Gaelic football, a combination of soccer and rugby with high-scoring games similar to basketball. Players, 15 on each team, advance the football, slightly smaller but heavier than a soccer ball, up the field with a combination of carrying, bouncing, kicking, hand-passing, and dropping the ball and then toe-kicking the ball upward into the hands. Three-point goals are scored similar to getting a goal in soccer but players can also manipulate the ball through goal posts which is worth one-point.
Hurling, an ancient sport in Ireland, is a mix of lacrosse, baseball and is played with sticks that can pick up the ball and hit it. The object is to use the wooden stick, called a hurley, to his a small ball, called a sliotar, between the opponent’s goal posts either over the crossbar for one point or under the crossbar into a net guarded by a goalkeeper for three points. The ball can be caught in the hand and carried no more than four steps or struck in the air or on the ground with the hurley. It can be kicked, slapped with an open hand and if a player wants to carry the ball for more than four steps he has to bounce of balance it on the stick.
Camogie is the women’s version of hurling and follows the same basic rules as hurling with minor differences.
The lots are 101, 103, 105 and 107 Consaul Road and encompass about 15 acres of former farmland near the single family home at 101 Consaul Road.
The land is zoned Single Family Residential and the club will need permission to change it to Neighborhood Commercial Office Residential. The Town Board asked the Planning Board to review the proposal and make a recommendation before making a final determination.
Town Attorney Michael Magguilli said should the Town Board grant the request to change the zoning, it should only apply to the association and the use of athletic fields. The caveat, he said, is necessary because the land is worth more zoned NCOR and it will prevent commercial development, like an office building, from happening in what is a residential neighborhood.
The neighbors, Roe said, were notified and none seemed to have a problem with the plan, which includes building two athletic fields, a pavilion and a bathroom.
“We can’t find a place for our Irish footballers to play,” he said. “We have to rent in the City of Albany on fields that are not the best. Whatever conditions you want to place on it are perfectly acceptable to us. All we want is a football field.”