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Modified: August 25, 2020 5:09pm
Created: August 25, 2020 3:34pm

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August 25, 2020

President/CEO Eric Gertler
Empire State Development
633 3rd Avenue, 37th Floor
New York, NY 10017

Dear Mr. Gertler,

I am writing to you today on behalf of a constituent who reached out to my office in regard to their touch football league in Williamsville, NY. I spoke to the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) about the issue laid out below and was advised that Empire State Development has the final say on reopening and the authority to grant such permission. I very respectfully urge your office to review the matter as soon as possible and allow this organization to return to practice. 

Throughout this process, the league has been in regular contact with the ECDOH with regards to their social distancing protocols.  From the information shared with my office, they have gone to great lengths to play in a safe and healthy manner.  The protocols put in place by the league has been quite pro-active, allowing participants to return to some sense of normalcy, while at the same time, putting the health of participants first.  I have attached the guidelines the league shared with all of their players.  Despite the numerous health and safety measures put in place that go above and beyond necessary guidelines, it looks like they are still struggling with definitive approval from the correct agency. 

Starting in July, Topper Sports reached out to the ECDOH regarding reopening their league, and their proposed protocols to do so.  Initially they received permission to reopen the league using their new protocols which are in alignment with the New York State (NYS) “Master Guidance” for such activities.  In August, a complaint about the league was filed with ECDOH by an individual from another competing sports league, at which time they were told they could not play.  It appears the complaint may have been filed with the intention of purposely hurting Topper Sports, not with the health of participants in mind. 

Topper Sports then corresponded the ECDOH, who reviewed their plan and noted they complied and the complaint in fact came from a disgruntled individual with an “axe to grind.”  The league held their first week of games the week of August 17th.  However immediately following that week they were told by the ECDOH they needed to shut back down. 

As we watch gyms beginning to reopen across the state, similar such group athletics resuming across the state, the need for such things in order to get life back to normal is reinforced.  Topper Sports’ have complied with all NYS Guidance in order to play.  I am hopeful that you can help facilitate a review of this situation and help them resume playing.  Please reach out to Patrick McGovern, the President of Topper Sports LLC. by phone at (716) ***-**** or by email at 

If my office can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to call me at (716) 858-8400.  Thank you very much for your attention and quick resolution to this matter.          




Stefan I. Mychajliw, Jr.


CC: Hon. Michael H. Ranzenhofer, New York State Senate             

Hon. Mike Norris, New York State Assembly        

Hon. Edward A. Rath, III, Erie County Legislature

Matthew Gorton – ESD - Public Affairs

Amanda Mays, ESD WNY Regional Director

Steven Cohen, ESD Chair

Hilda Rosario Escher, ESD Director           

Cesar A. Perales, ESD Director


For a PDF of the letter, please CLICK HERE