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Editorial: Save the Dates: May 12 and May 22 Community Input Will Be Welcomed

The East Norwich Civic Association meetings are always interesting. They cover a large area of community interest. At the April 22 meeting Matthew Meng, ENCA president, said he would try to arrange a meeting with Saratoga Associates about the Muttontown Preserve. On Monday, May 3, he emailed us this “Save the Date” notice which was sent to him. It announces the second Muttontown Preserve Public Meeting.

It will be held on Saturday May 22, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at The Hoffman Center (6000 Northern Blvd., East Norwich).

Alison Peckett, LEED AP of Saratoga Associates,

Landscape Architects, Architects, Engineers, and Planners, P.C. said it is to “Identify and explore community ideas and desires for the Muttontown Preserve Master Plan.”

Rosemary Colvin has been looking into the Muttontown Preserve and remembers when it was an integral part of her family’s enjoyment of East Norwich. The ENCA is interested in seeing what can be done to improve Muttontown Preserve after Nassau County cuts have not maintained the site.

The ENCA was also interested in what was happening about TR Park.

Rob Brusca said after their recent visits to community groups the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Youth Athletic Association went back to the town to see what can be done at the TR Park site. The town engineers were revisiting the issue, he said. [A recent town resolution was for an engineering report on an artificial turf field.] The town is working on parking, drainage and improvements in the park. The discussion never went away, he said.

ENCA member John Wallace commented that the artificial turf is considered not healthy and that there are no approved specifications on the fill used.

Bill Burke said he had been a football coach for 13 years using an older version of artificial turf and never heard any negative information about it. He said, “It is inert and won’t harm the participants.” He said it is generally safer and there are less injuries. He said there are rocks in grass. He said the turf fields are all over Long Island, in Bayville and Syosset. A plus, he said is that they don’t cause spikes to adhere to the ground like natural turf. He explained that the spikes stay in the grassy ground and that is how you get knee injuries.

Mr. Wallace brought up the temperature problems with the artificial turf that can’t be used when the temperature goes above 90 degrees and which out-gasses. Lianne Gunther, whose sons played soccer on the grass fields in the district, added that it can be 75 degrees outside and the artificial turf can reach 90 degrees.

Charles Doering took a different approach saying that the TR Memorial Park was more a museum. He said, “When will people stop tearing up TR Park?” He said originally it was open to everyone in the United States but overuse made that change.

He added that with the opening of the Marino Field, his home street, Kellog Street is “a different world” with people parking there to get to the field. He said TR Park is on the water therefore marine-related use should be the criteria for the park.

Mel Warren said while people have been fighting for months on issues to save TR Park, he said he had seen a letter to the editor asking “How you can take a multi-purpose area and turn it into a one purpose area only – for a single use for a small group” and added that at the same time “kill the Golden Goose” that is the Oyster Festival.  Mr. Warren is the person in charge of the site plans for the annual Oyster Fest.

He said there is great concern that with the proposed multi-sports field at TR Park, the Oyster Festival will not be able to overcome the difficulties caused by lack of space for the food court area as well as the arts and crafts area at the annual October community fundraiser, by hurting the bottom line – in calculating the cost of running the event vs. the profit made.

Additionally he said, at the 2009 Oyster Festival, the fire department tried to keep his arts and crafts vendors from parking on the land that surrounds the boat house where they traditionally park to allow them to be near their wares. “They have two acres of land there,” he said. “The Capone property was where St. Rocco’s festival was held years ago,” he added. He asked, “Who gave them permission to take up so much of the Western Waterfront?”

Mr. Doering added that TR Park was not included in the Western Waterfront Plan or the Eastern Waterfront Plan. Back to the original discussion about the artificial turf fields, he said Bayville Deputy Mayor Doug Watson said the village was not asked for permission for the work on the Centre Island Beach developments for the Oak Neck Athletic Club. The beach is owned and maintained by the Town of Oyster Bay.

“The shellfish industry is closed after every heavy rain,” said Mr. Doering. The DEC is concerned with the non-source pollution that gets into the bay after heavy rains, “It’s a very delicate balance,” said Mr. Doering.

Bill Burke said, “Drainage and environmentally sensitive plans must be developed. It would be an improvement to TR Park, better than what is there now, when the runoff goes into the bay.”

Mr. Meng said, “The engineers will have to come up with the science. Friends of the Bay will have to weigh in on that issue.”

It will be an interesting meeting, on May 12, and another interesting meeting on May 22. There is always something interesting going on in this area! We live in interesting times.