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Town Votes to Set in Motion Plans to Renovate TR Park

Resolution’s Wordage Includes Explanations and Says Discussions Are Ongoing

The Town of Oyster Bay adopted its resolution to press on with work for the restoration of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park and Firemen’s Field – [originally known as War Memorial Field when it was first given to the town for parking for the school district sports activities, the LIRR commuters and local shoppers,] at their July 27 town board meeting.

Resident Charles Gaulkin questioned the board on voting on the resolution because they had not re-instituted the dormant TR Park Advisory Committee – and suggested to wait until the committee could be formed to oversee the proposal. Supervisor John Venditto said, “In this, trust that the town board acted as the advisory committee.” He said there was overwhelming community support for the field; the TR Association gave their approval and they were the only group legally required to do so, according to the deed.

Mr. Gaulkin also asked about Friends of the Bay’s involvement with the process. Deputy Supervisor Len Genova and Town consultants Hal Mayer and John Ellsworth said that they had met with FOB and would continue to work with them regarding, among other things, filtration and drainage issues in and about the turf field area and overall within the Park.

Mr. Venditto said the park has been laying fallow and is underused and the overall character of the park was not being maintained. The new project, he said, will connect the waterfront with the downtown area.

Rob Brusca spoke in favor of the project and thanked all those involved for working together on the proposal. “While I will no doubt omit many other deserving individuals, I would like to thank the many Town personnel who have devoted a tremendous amount of consideration, time, and patience to this proposal, particularly Deputy Supervisor Len Genova, Commissioner Jack Libert, Commissioner Byrne, Deputy Commissioner Maccarone, as well as Hal Mayer, John Ellsworth, and Matt Russo for all their personal attention and courtesy, as well as the TRA and, particularly, Liz Roosevelt and Norm Parsons for all their hard work in contributing to this proposal. And, I am confident that I speak for many in the community, in thanking and congratulating the OB-EN Youth Athletic Association for their efforts in getting things to this point- especially the incredibly dedicated board members.”

Mr. Brusca also commented about the TR Park Advisory committee saying it was a good idea for future projects. But he said, “I disagreed with Charles as to whether there had been sufficient community input in this case, as there had been tremendous outreach and input for well over a year regarding the intended improvements.”

Boaters Concerns

Larry Weiss spoke for the boating community that uses the boat launch area which contains long parking stalls for cars with trailers; and for their concern that overflow traffic from the sports area would encroach on their lot.

He said when he objected to the creation of the multi-sport field that took away parking, he was told he must “just hate kids.”

Speaking for himself and the Oyster Bay Power Squadron Mr. Weiss said they felt the boat launch area and soccer moms don’t mix. He added, there is not enough parking and there are security concerns.

He asked, “What do you do with the turf at the end of its life span?” He was concerned about light pollution from the water [people have already complained about the lights at TR Park when seen from the water; added to that are the lights from the Centre Island turf field – and the new field will add more light pollution.]

Mr. Weiss added, “There is a lot of diesel soot there – how will that affect the turf fields?”

Mr. Weiss said there was a Western Waterfront Plan; there was an Eastern Waterfront Plan; and the TR Park area should also be considered a waterfront location and the use there should be water related.

Hal Mayer, Environmental Consultant to the Supervisor, answered him saying the park serves many people, not only the boaters. It is a multi-purpose park. He added they will do the best they can to shield the lighting. He said when the turf field is worn out they will roll it up and recycle it and put down a new turf mat. Mr. Mayer added, the connection between the waterfront and the downtown area will bring traffic to the merchants.

He added that the new improved drainage system for the park will improve the water quality going into the bay. Additionally Mr. Mayer said he is working with the Department of Public Safety to increase security in the park.

The Nitty Gritty

The Town of Oyster Bay voted to begin work on the improvements to Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park and Firemen’s Field. It is a three-phase master plan which they said, “Has been formulated in consideration of public input received during an extensive outreach process involving numerous meetings with individual interest groups, as well as a public information session on May 7, 2010.”

The town’s Department of Environmental Resources Division of Environmental Quality Review gave the project a “negative declaration” determining that it causes “no significant impact upon the environment.”

It stated that, “It is not expected that the proposed multi-purpose field will result in significant conflicts with respect to surrounding land uses since TR Park is a long-standing and well used public park which is separated from the nearest residences by the LIRR and local roadways.” The field will be in the middle of the park.

It stated that there have been complaints about the use of Firemen’s Field by the fire company’s training program, but that it is a long-standing use and will continue. “Moreover, the proposed improvements to Firemen’s Field include additional landscaping, which should enhance compatibility with adjacent residents in terms of aesthetic consideration.” The town said they met with residents to discuss possible additional measures to further reduce potential impacts.

The town’s engineering consultant, LiRo Engineers, said the new project will not increase traffic. The project includes refurbishment of the existing baseball fields, enhancements to the Memorial area, new and retrofitted stormwater treatment facilities, architectural improvements to the existing buildings in TR Park, relocation of one picnic area from the east to the west end of TR Park, and repairs to the seawall.

The resolution said after analyzing traffic generation: “It is concluded that the proposed action may result in a slight increase in Park generated traffic. However, relative to the existing level of activity in TR Park, it is not expected that the new multi-purpose field will result in significant adverse impacts with respect to transportation resources in the project area.”

They surveyed the parking fields and determined the proposal will not have an adverse impact on parking. There are three lots: the one in the park with 253 spaces will have 247 spaces; Firemen’s Field with 281 spaces will have 319 spaces; the unpaved parking lot near the picnic pavilion has 36 spaces and is only for permit parking.

Some landscaping is planned. The former Capone property will have a recharge basin using native vegetation. As to the recharge basin north of the multi-purpose field, it said the structure no longer serves its original function of preventing backflow of the rising tide from the bay into the basin. “This condition prevents the basin from retaining incoming stormwater, which currently is flushed out to the harbor with the twice daily ebb tidal flow the resolution states.” A new tidal gate will be installed to restore that function; and the basin floor will be graded and replanted with native grasses to decrease salinity conditions in the basin when the tidal flow is checked.

The resolution added that if it is determined that the existing vegetation merits preservation, the town is amenable to redesigning components of the project in cooperation with Friends of the Bay and other interested parties as well as the NYS DEC to ensure that it meets regulatory approval.

Additionally the multi-purpose field will have a self contained drainage system designed to store five inches of stormwater percolating downward through the field surface.

There will be a bioswale to receive runoff from the new parking field adjacent to the new fire department facility to channel this runoff to the reconstructed bio-filtration basin. The second new parking lot, by the handball court, will also be connected to the drainage system with a “vortex” stormwater treatment structure.

The existing recharge basin to the south of the multi-purpose field will also “transform this area into a bio-filtration basin; and reconstruction of the drainage infrastructure in Firemen’s Field,” the resolution states.

The engineering needed for these proposals is not completed. FOB will review the design before the artificial turf playing field is finalized, said the town.

The town is also consulting with the school district to coordinate with their drainage improvements at the Roosevelt Elementary School. The town acknowledged concerns about the artificial turf materials but said they believe it “does not leach significant quantities of hazardous substances to the environment.” It later adds, “nor does it release significant concentrations of volatile vapors to the air.”

The resolution adds that they are in discussion with the NYSDEC and that modifications to their plans may ensue.

As to water and sewer generation the resolution stated, “any additional water use and sewage generation associated with the operation of the new athletic field will mostly be transferred from the existing demand on these services: i.e., it is expected that a large percentage of those using the new facility will be drawn from the pool of people in Oyster Bay who currently are consuming water from the OBWD and generating sewage discharged to the OBSD.” [It should be noted that the surrounding communities of East Norwich, Mill Neck, and Upper Brookville have cesspools and are not connected to the OBSD. The OBWD serves the hamlet of Oyster Bay and some small portions of Oyster Bay Cove, Cove Neck, Mill Neck and Upper Brookville.]

As for the Oyster Festival, the document states that the park and Firemen’s Field are devoted to the festival one weekend a year in October. “The town has met multiple times with the Oyster Festival Committee in an effort to design the proposed action in a manner that best accommodates the Oyster Festival while also adequately serving the needs of the other groups who utilize these facilities. Discussions between the Town and the Oyster Festival Committee are ongoing, so as to arrive at a final design that achieves an optimal balance among the various user and interest groups.”

With all that said, the town board gave the Purchasing Department of General Services permission to set a date to go out to bid on the project.