The new lights for the existing athletic field at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park are expected to be up and working in May in time for the season. "There are still ongoing discussions about artificial turf fields somewhere in TR Park," said a town spokesperson.
The picture is looking brighter for young people in the area who want to take part in local sports programs. Bob Santos of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Youth Athletic Association came to the March 31 town board meeting to thank the town board for the successful conclusion of two years of discussions on needed sports fields for local children. He also wanted a timeline for the fields. Supervisor John Venditto was able to give him some information. He said with the Theodore Roosevelt Museum having resolved itself, "Our life is simpler."
Mr. Santos said he had met with Deputy Supervisor Len Genova and Councilman Chris Coschignano over a long period of time. He was glad to be able to say that under these economic conditions the funds for the Marino field work were in place. Phase I has begun and Phase 2 will start in the fall and be completed in the spring. "Under the circumstances that is not so bad," said Mr. Santos.
The town passed Resolution 167 early in March, which authorized Phase I of the Marino field reconstruction, which includes rest rooms, a storage building and concrete walkways to the bathroom at a cost of $340,297. Phase 2 of the project includes a component for a possible parking lot on Hill Drive for Marino Field.
Mr. Coschignano complimented Mr. Santos and the other people involved in the OB-EN YAA., on the way they comported themselves so professionally. "You've been easy to work with," he said.
Mr. Santos was the spokesperson for the OBENYAA board. Other members who attended the meeting included: Sharon Tiberia, representing soccer; Mike Schindler representing football; Chuck Greenspan representing lacrosse; and Andrew Galgano representing baseball, as does Mr. Santos.
"We decided to do that. We all love Oyster Bay. Why be combative? We also came together since we share about 1,500 kids (some youth are in multisports) and want to use the fields as best as we can - and we can't use the school fields. Now that the TR Museum and the proposal for the former Hallock site are gone, and not consuming your time, there are no roadblocks and kids are our priority. Please get the Marino field done and back, as soon as possible," said Mr. Santos.
"You have been so reasonable. That is unfamiliar to us," said Mr. Venditto. He said, "The Town of Oyster Bay is the envy of other towns on Long Island. The NCAA teams want to play on our fields. You've been patient and it's your time. Not that the museum just took time, it took space." He added that the town is in an excellent financial position with the highest bond rating. Money is not an issue, he said, and asked Mr. Genova for a time table. Mr. Genova said four to six months for the design and then construction which will start in the winter. The first games, he said would be in the spring.
Mr. Santos said in a telephone interview on Thursday, April 2, that the OB-EN YAA had met with the town since the March 31 meeting and the town agreed to consider the sport group's original request to have the fields in the area between the existing ball field and the parking lot. It will mean losing a few parking spaces, but the tennis courts and the hand ball courts will not be effected.
"We do not want the new field to displace tennis or any other existing ball playing courts. There is enough open space for all sports and courts in the Park," said Mr. Santos.
At the meeting, Mr. Venditto said the problem of maintaining the town's field is ongoing which is why the process took a long time to reach Oyster Bay. He said, "Fields deteriorate. Over the last few years we have been building playing fields using the open space bond act. They are clearly coming here." Mr. Santos said to the supervisor, "On April 4 or 5 of 2010, you come and throw out the first pitch."
Bob Brusca added some personal comments about the OB-EN YAA board members, congratulating them for their work. He said, "They have continually shown sensitivity to adding the ballfields in a manner most appropriate to our greatest natural asset - our valued Harbor. I - and many- believe that this addition to our downtown, together with the other suggested improvements to TR Park, Firemen's Field, and the town's continued support of the Railroad Museum, will have a very positive impact on this community - to both residents and merchants alike. Rather than the efforts at re-inventing us (many times from those well outside this community), we ask for your continued assistance in helping us to help ourselves - to build upon and add to that which is already here - improving us -- from the inside.
"After all the relative developmental anxiety in OB-EN over the last few years, we seem to have some breathing room right now - and right now is the exact time for such a very positive and doable project to be started and completed, in a very prompt and very responsible fashion.
"I urge you to push forward in bringing these needed and deserved ballfields to reality," concluded Mr. Brusca.
Mr. Venditto said with the museum no longer an issue they will be able to improve the park rather quickly.
As the evening ended, Caroline DuBois spoke to the board representing the Citizens to Save Firemen's Field. "Now that the museum is not here I would sincerely ask the town to fix up Firemen's Field/Memorial Parking lot by paving, stripping and lighting for safety. Make it beautiful.
"And as for TR Park: Have the TR Park Advisory Committee reinstated. You are putting the horse before the cart as you plan to change the park," she said.
Councilman Coschignano said in 2007 after Dr. John Gable, Theodore Roosevelt Association executive director died, and several of the commission members moved out of town, and the member's terms expired they lost a quorum. "I requested to add members to the committee."
"We need to oversee the plans," agreed Mr. Venditto.
Ms. DuBois said, "Playing fields are great but some of my members have children that prefer ballet and tennis so we don't want to lose the tennis courts."
There is also a seniors group that plays regularly at TR Park. They come from Oyster Bay, East Norwich and Syosset and have gotten to know each other playing tennis and set up their own doubles and singles games. There is a TOB summer tennis program with kids using the courts once or twice a week; and another group of teenagers who come by bus to play at the park. Tennis is an integral part of the offerings at TR Park.
Mr. Coschignano said to Ms. DuBois, "Hopefully you can be part of the process." "I'll help in any way I can," she answered.