The Great Neck Park District board of commissioners began the process to ultimately approve a new PAL office building at Memorial Field. At the park board's July 7 public hearing, all three park commissioners---Chairman William Dobkin and commissioners Andrew Imperatore and Ruth Tamarin---expressed support for a new, larger building, to be built by the Great Neck Police Athletic League at the southwest corner of Memorial Field.
PARK BOARD CHAIR William Dobkin presents the proposed Memorial Field PAL building and the tree to be saved.
The proposed 1000 square foot building will replace the existing 500 foot square ''shed'' now at that spot. A one-story, wood frame building with siding, half would be used for office space and half for storage, with additional storage in the attic. And the big, beautiful old tree on the property will be saved!
Though PAL would bear the cost of the construction, as well as maintenance of the building and insurance, the park district owns the land and the building, and will retain title. The park district will license the building to PAL. The park district will be responsible for maintenance of just the outside property. Should PAL choose to discontinue use of the building at any time, the building would remain park district property.
Representing PAL at the hearing, Ted Rosen, also a trustee of the Village of Great Neck Plaza, stated that the new building is ''very important to Great Neck PAL.'' PAL has been in Great Neck for over 40 years, growing to over 3000 children playing many sports including baseball, basketball, and soccer.
Mr. Rosen explained that PAL now uses the old building as a storage site, with an office in the basement of Saint Aloysius Church, an office he termed neither suitable for their needs nor a proper place for children. ''An office at Memorial Field makes the most sense because a large part of the PAL programs play there and we have our storage there,'' said Mr. Rosen. The new building, he stated, would be a ''positive'' for PAL, as well as for the community, replacing the old structure with a new, attractive building ''that looks like an attractive house.''
And Mr. Rosen spoke of how PAL, the park district, and the Village of Great Neck have worked together to make the proposal a reality. (Also at this hearing, Village of Great Neck Deputy Mayor Stephen Falk spoke of his village's support for the project, delighted that the new proposal brings the building ''to a residential scale.'')
During his presentation, Mr. Rosen also said that he foresees no negative impacts on the neighborhood. The office will see only minimal use, with a part-time secretary and a part-time police officer director on weekdays. Registration will still take place in the schools, and only occasional small group evening meetings would be held in the new office.
Additionally, Mr. Rosen said that since PAL is affiliated with the police, the new building could be used as a police call-in station, giving an added police presence to the neighborhood. Nassau County Police Captain Ralph Giardina explained that this has been done, successfully, in other towns such as Manhasset, Farmingdale, and Roosevelt.
However, Ms. Tamarin expressed concern that the idea of a police call-in station had not been discussed by the board prior to the meeting, and she asked for time to further study this offer.
When a parking concern arose, residents were assured that the week-end playing time (and parking) would remain exactly the same. Only the two part-time staff would be at the office during the week.
All three commissioners spoke of support for the proposal. Mr. Dobkin said that PAL is the largest program the park district has in conjunction with anyone, and ''it is our job to look to the future.'' Said Mr. Dobkin, ''This is a modest proposal.''
Ms. Tamarin said that it is the job of the park commissioners to ''provide things to keep the children in our district happy and healthy.'' She termed the proposed project ''long over-due.''
Mr. Imperatore spoke of his long association with PAL and the pleasure he has received, while recuperating, as he watches PAL games from his home. ''We should do everything we can to support programs like this,'' he stated.
At the end of the hearing, the board began the process to ultimately approve the new PAL building. The board unanimously voted to declare themselves lead agency in the environmental review. The board also voted unanimously to have park district attorney Christopher Prior draft a resolution reflecting the board's support, subject to environmental studies and a licensing agreement.
The park board will address the issue again at the July 21 meeting, when it is anticipated that all loose ends will be tied up and all necessary legal and environmental components will be complete.
Mr. Rosen said that they would like to begin construction in the fall. The construction should take about two months, he said.