Friday, June 29, 2007

Athletic Field Proposed for Tappen Draws Community Comment at Oyster Bay Town Board Meeting

Tuesday, June 26—Several community groups today addressed the Oyster Bay Town Board about the possibility of a new athletic field at Tappen Beach. The statement made by the civic association follows:

Good evening. My name is Patrice Benneward. I am speaking to you on behalf of the Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association. I am here because, although I have no details, I have heard through the grapevine that you may be considering installing a second athletic field at Tappen Beach.

First, our organization wants to thank you for considering an additional athletic field in the Glenwood / Glen Head area, as well as for several recent improvements at Tappen Beach—including a gazebo, playgrounds, benches, landscaping, and repair of the boat launch.

All of these initiatives are very much appreciated. The civic association does have some concerns, though, about locating another athletic field at the beach. While these concerns may not be insurmountable, we do feel that they present some serious challenges.

I served on the steering committee that created the Glenwood Landing Waterfront Redevelopment and Revitalization Plan. I believe the plan noted that a study examining the recreational needs of the area would be useful. I suggest that it is important to conduct such a study now, both to get a better grip on the demand for specific types of activities and to survey the possible locations for facilities that could address these needs.

I also think that the addition of an athletic field at the beach represents a major change in use and that such a project requires considerable public input and a formal public hearing.

Our organization, for example, has concerns about the impact of an additional athletic field on view corridors, the picnic and play areas, mature trees, the sitting area north of the pool, and parking. Public input and a formal hearing would provide a forum for these concerns—as well as the concerns of others—to be taken into consideration.

We also wonder whether the new facility would be open to all residents or just to members of particular clubs or groups. It seems to us that a public discussion about the pros and cons of each approach is necessary before moving forward one way or the other.

Our organization is also a strong supporter of planning. We advocate an updated comprehensive plan for Tappen Beach as a means of avoiding piecemeal development; ensuring that we get the most bang for the buck; and guaranteeing that improvements remain viable over the long term. We suggest that the time is ripe for such a plan and urge that it be created now—and with ample public participation.

I also would like to mention that the civic association is a strong supporter of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee (HHPC). A representative of the civic association has attended almost every HHPC meeting for the last decade. To the best of my knowledge, HHPC has not been informed that this project may be in the works and, in fact, often seems to be left out of the loop on many projects that impact the harbor. In my view, it would be a real advance if, as a matter of policy, all departments were made aware that they should bring HHPC into the loop on all matters that affect the harbor.

Finally, for a very long time and as I believe you are all aware, this community has been patiently waiting for the utility properties adjacent to Tappen Beach to be brought into the public domain. When the back-up generators were installed across the street, all parties assured us, albeit informally, that the propane field would, in all likelihood, be purchased by the town and the wetland lot would be donated to the town.

Since then, the propane field has made both the county and town bond act lists, and the town has even received grants to put toward the acquisition of the property and the initial planning. Yet, as far as I know, we are not any closer to acquiring either lot today than we were five or six years ago. In fact, the pending sale of KeySpan may actually be jeopardizing the exchange. It is essential that the town acquire these properties as quickly as possible and, yet again, I urge you to pursue them very aggressively.

On a personal note, although I have been actively involved in local waterfront issues for some time now, I have not mentioned my own personal desires regarding uses at Tappen Beach—and believe me I do have them—in any forum to date. This is because I have felt it would be premature in the absence of a community platform open to all. I have taken it for granted that once the utility properties were acquired such a forum would be forthcoming. However, as the purchase of the properties seems to be taking so long and only seems to become more questionable, I think it is perhaps important to begin planning for the future of the lands that are in the public domain now in an open forum that balances the competing recreational desires of all residents.

Thank you for your attention and interest in the Glenwood Landing Waterfront.


Anonymous said...

Here is a link to a story where you will find the Town of Oyster Bay offering an East Norwich soccer club the fields behind the Glen Head Community Center.

I frequent Stillwell Woods and know first hand the trash generated by the soccer field ends up in the preserve. Do we want another trash generating sport near the harbor?

If that field in Glen Head is under utilized, why do they need another soccer field at Tappen Beach?

The environmental impacts of a soccer field near a already fragile harbor eco system doesn't seem like a well thought out plan.

Perhaps there are private interests that will benefit?

Sounds dirty to me.

Bill said...

What is the Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association doing to bring this urgent matter to the wide-spread attention of the residents of Glenwood and Glen Head?
Karin Barnaby, and others, have had their letters published in the local papers.
The use of publicly supported funding for the construction of a lighted sports stadium at Tappan Beach for the use of private teams is an affront to the concept of environmental preservation.
This issue needs the widespread attention of our community!
Bill Mozer,
Glen Head