Imperial Wrestling Club moves to Gorham

Julie Sherwood Messenger-Post Media
Imperial wrestling club moved out ot the Martin Tire building Sunday.

The Imperial Wrestling Club removed its belongings Sunday from the Martin Tire Building, but the long battle between the club and Rushville Village Board is not over.

Thousands of dollars the club spent on the village-owned building and other issues are yet to be resolved. Those matters will have to be “settled by the attorneys,” said former mayor Jon Bagley, who was at the building Sunday along with club members and parents.

“This has been a long battle,” said club coach Terry Lucero, over the blare of pulling up and tearing down by wrestlers and parents working to clear the building at 7 N. Main St. The equipment was trucked to the vacant 2625 Main St. in Gorham, former site of Nino’s Antiques & Auction Gallery. Bagley recently bought the building for club use — a new site Lucero said will work well.

Gorham Town Supervisor Fred Lightfoote said Monday club members asked permission to bring club belongings to 2625 Main St. After the town sees paperwork showing Bagley closed on the purchase of the building, the club can apply to operate there, he said. Bagley says he plans to have paperwork ready for the town Planning Board later this month. Lightfoote says he doesn’t expect there will be any obstacles to the club’s use of the building.

The supervisor says any time there is a chance “to provide an opportunity for the kids, we are happy to help out.”

The trouble with the club in Rushville began last year after Bagley lost re-election as mayor. In 2014, when Bagley was mayor, he and village trustees struck a handshake deal with Kevin Smith of Stanley to fix up the vacant and decaying Martin building — at no cost to the village — so it could be used by Imperial Wrestling club. But the deal was never formalized. Then, after the village election last March, the new board led by Mayor John Sawers locked the building and posted it condemned.

“How would you like someone coming in and taking over your garage?” Sawers says.

The village uses part of the Martin building for highway equipment and Sawers says it is a “multi-use building.” He wouldn’t say what other uses the village wants for it.

Bagley, who is at odds with the board over his petition calling for a vote to dissolve the village, says when he was mayor Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike addressed the board about fighting the heroin epidemic. The sheriff went to all municipalities urging them to help “change the social conscience of the way kids think today — and give them an opportunity,” Bagley says. “So when Kevin came along and said, ‘Hey, can we use this building to do something for the kids?’ the board agreed,” he says.

John Hill of Middlesex, the father of wrestlers and a former wrestling coach, was helping with the club move Sunday. He talked about the success of the club and referred to the upheaval.

“It is sad it had to come to this,” Hill says. “I am just glad the boys and girls have a place to go.