A new soccer field for pick-up games is being developed for the Theodore Roosevelt Park. Unlike other fields in the town, it will be for casual players and not members of organized teams. The new field was discussed at both the Theodore Roosevelt Park Advisory Committee (TRPAC) meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 24 (at 6 p.m.) and at the town board meeting following (at 7 p.m.), which helped clarify what the town is proposing.
Culturo Centro Hispanico representative Luz Torres, a TRPAC member, asked committee chair Councilman Chris Coschignano (at the earlier meeting) when the field would be available. He said as soon as the weather changes the town parks department will look at what needs to be done at the site. It will be located in the area between the tennis courts, west of the softball field and the parking lot at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park. Ms. Torres wanted to be sure the field would be leveled for playing.
Mr. Coschignano said they are proposing an open field where people can play as they wish - in other words, have pick up games as opposed to joining formal teams. Other soccer fields in the Town of Oyster Bay are scheduled by teams who obtain permits from the town, submit a team roster and have insurance.
Ms. Torres spoke at the town board meeting that night, after the hearings and after the board voted on town resolutions. Attending the board meeting were about 30 to 40 young Hispanic men who are looking forward to playing on the new soccer field. Two spoke as the evening ended, to support the need for unstructured recreation for community residents.
At the town board meeting Alberto Mejia spoke to the town board members saying how important it is to have a soccer field here in Oyster Bay. "It is a good thing to distract ourselves after work to have a sport - to get rid of stress and think about positive things. It's important for the community to have a place to create positive things in life and think of good things. It makes us feel like a community and that we count."
Supervisor John Venditto said, "There are four soccer coaches here [on the dais]. We are all soccer nuts. As we raised our children we understood the value of sports." He said as he understood the concept of the new field, it would be for pick up games and not for "permitted" play. "We have soccer fields where the teams get permitted and need insurance certificates for the teams to be able to play."
"I'm not a member of a club," said Mr. Mejia.
Rob Walker, deputy commissioner of parks said, "We are doing it in April. We want to be sure there are no wires or pipes under the ground before we start ripping up the surface next to the ballfield. It will be 80 percent the size of a regulation field, and anyone can play on it."
Ms. Torres said she wanted the fields to be "nice from the beginning" and asked that they find more space to make the field full sized.
Mr. Venditto asked Mr. Walker how many soccer fields were available in the village. Mr. Walker said they are using Marino Field for soccer in season and using it for baseball in the fall. There is also the Vernon School Field that is used for soccer, football and lacrosse.
Mr. Venditto said originally the concern was that younger people didn't have fields to play on and now it is members of sports organizations that want space, but he added, "It's the right thing to do."
CCH member Nancy DeMontreaux also asked that the field be made regulation size. She said people in the community have complained about others hanging out on corners, and that this is a way for them to recreate at a park location.
Rob Walker assured them it will be an attractive field with regular playing lines marked on the grass. It will be a playable surface. It is the only space available in the park and it follows the guidelines of the deed, which is for a passive park in most of the areas.
Supervisor Venditto said, "Playing surfaces are the single biggest demand in the township. Go to special meetings and people are in tears looking for space. We try to be responsive. We want you to play soccer. There may be that a future Olympic player is sitting out there," he said looking into the audience.
He added, "We are putting our money where our mouth is we are not saying it's all you'll get. It is unique, we have waived the permit process. We are being responsive."
Ms. DeMontreaux said, "We appreciate that. They are members of the community. [Playing soccer] is a way of communicating after a long day at work." She added that the men were not following the rules of the park because they can't read the signs. She said, "It is important that they be in two languages."
The supervisor said, "I'll take that under advisement," but he added. "You, Luz and I had a meeting at my direction. The Town of Oyster Bay will pay a full time language teacher for English. I like that better for addressing the language problem. That I see as a long range solution to the language problem. We'll take the signs under advisement."
Ms. Torres said, "We appreciate the offer for a teacher and are trying to get a list of people to take instruction." But, she added, "People who use the park come from everywhere [not just from the Oyster Bay community]."
Rosemary Colvin of East Norwich said, "I work closely with Luz and the CCH. I am happy with what I've heard. I'm a soccer grandma so I know there is a dearth of soccer fields available."
There is a great need for playing space in the township and the town/hamlet is sharing its facilities with outside groups. The newly named Marino Park on Berry Hill Road off Park Avenue and Hill Drive is being used by the Tri-State Soccer League: an international team. It runs three teams deep on Sundays as teams play from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.; 11.30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Those teams use the town's permit method that includes insurance. There is some concern among local parents who would like to be able to use the field at will. The field was originally formed at the request of parents in that area.