Saturday, July 19, 2008

Civic Letter to the Editor re Proposed Athletic Field at Tappen Beach

June 6, 2008: Letter to the Editor, Glen Cove Record Pilot

Looking for Answers to Tappen Beach Changes

There is perhaps no more significant natural resource in Glenwood Landing and Glen Head than the Glenwood Landing Waterfront. The Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association believes that the installation of an artificial turf athletic field at Tappen Beach is a major change in, and intensification of, use for that resource. We believe that such a change requires public input in an open forum that provides all residents with the same information and the same opportunity to comment. Such a forum also would require the town to respond to the various concerns expressed by residents.

Having heard vague rumors that another athletic field might be in the works for Tappen and having had no luck in confirming the rumor through normal channels, I attended a Town Board meeting last June and waited until midnight to request information during the public comment period. Several weeks later, the Parks Department contacted me and a meeting was arranged.

At that meeting, I asked many questions including but not limited to: Is there a plan for the design, construction, management, and continued maintenance of the field? How does the plan address such concerns as the impact of an athletic field on view corridors, mature trees, the picnic area and other green space, and recently installed improvements, such as the play area? How will the field be integrated into the park? Will there be lights? If so, how bright, how tall, how late will they be on, and what will the electric bill be? Will the field be like the one recently installed at Center Island or the one at John Burns? Will there be fences? If so, how many and how tall? Will tarps be placed on the fences? Will there be bleachers? What will the hours of operation be? Will players who do not belong to clubs be accommodated and if so, how? Who will maintain the artificial turf? Is artificial turf safe for children and the environment? How many teams and how many clubs use fields in the area? Few answers were provided.

I said the situation highlighted the need to update the plan for Tappen Beach and that no major changes to the beach should be made until such a process is completed with plenty of public input. I said the plan should include three scenarios: a vision for the park if the utility lots are acquired; a vision for the park if the utility lots are not acquired; and a list of projects that can be implemented while the disposition of the utility lots is resolved. I also said that a recreational needs assessment for the community should be conducted, a suggestion made in the Glenwood Landing Waterfront Redevelopment and Revitalization Plan.

The Town established a strong precedent for public participation in its northwestern hamlets by preparing and adopting the GWL Waterfront Plan. While we are certain that the athletic field project is well motivated and that an athletic field of some type may be needed, the procedure that has been used to advance the project undermines this precedent. I know of no public meetings or agendas that included an artificial turf athletic field at Tappen Beach. Although I certainly could have missed one, I sure have been keeping my eyes peeled. Furthermore, private meetings between the Parks Department and various user groups do not constitute an open, public process.

This Civic Association is committed to balancing the competing needs and interests of the community, recognizes the role of compromise, and has the track record to prove it. We contend that the athletic field that the Parks Department seems so intent on installing cannot result in balance because of the flawed method by which the project is being advanced. We urge the Town to reconsider the matter pending updating of the Tappen Beach plan; a needs assessment; and a town-conducted, community-wide informational mailing and public meeting held in Glen Head.

Comments and correspondence from the Civic Association about the possibility of an artificial turf athletic field at Tappen Beach can be viewed at

Patrice Benneward, President, Glenwood/Glen Head Civic Association

No comments: