New Suffolk school board approves ballfield restoration project

06/10/2015 6:00 AM |
Trevor Johnson shows attendees of the New Suffolk school board meeting plans to renovate the ballfield. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

Travis Johnson presented plans to renovated neighborhood’s ballfield at Tuesday’s New Suffolk school board meeting. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

New Suffolk Civic Association members got what they were looking for at Tuesday’s school board meeting: approval to begin a volunteer effort to restore the neighborhood’s baseball field.

While the New Suffolk school board unanimously approved the project at Tuesday’s meeting, school president Tony Dill said that the civic association still needs to submit a detailed drawing of the proposal before work could begin.

Civic president Paul Cacioppo said he’s pleased with the school board’s decision because many people have been saddened by the field’s sorry state. He also said his group already has volunteers lined up to turn it back into a regulation field, as well as a nice green space residents can enjoy.

“It was what we were hoping would happen,” he said about the project’s approval.

Travis Johnson, owner of Fine Care Landscape in Cutchogue, is volunteering to fix the ballfield and gave a presentation at the meeting about his restoration plan. The work is expected to begin in July.

His proposal includes creating a regulation ballfield for T-ball, baseball, softball and Mattituck-Cutchogue Little League games, as well as installing a netted fence around the field that could be taken down during the winter months.

The civic association also plans to place a permanent fence around the perimeter of the property, which includes a large amount of recreational grass space, in order to prevent parking on the field.

“The kids can benefit with a field to play on,” Mr. Johnson said. “It’s a nice focal point for the town, too. Right now, it’s kinda abandoned. It’ll make a great improvement.”

In addition to Mr. Johnson’s donation, Mr. Cacioppo said that numerous community members have already donated over $1,000 toward the project. Residents have also volunteered to work on the project once it’s underway, he said.

After the he first discussed the initial plans at last month’s school board meeting, Mr. Cacioppo said he became interested in gauging the community’s reaction to the proposal and asked people to sign a petition.

“In five days, we had about 150 signatures,” he said. “People in New Suffolk were really excited about what we were going to do.”

While most people at Tuesday’s meeting praised the project, some residents expressed concerns over the proposal, including parking, AED machines, and cost to taxpayers.

School board members said street parking would be available for visitors, Little League officials would be responsible for the AED machines, and no tax dollars would be used for the project.

Another issue has been about the availability and regulations associated with using the grass space adjacent to the ballfield for hosting events.

Mr.  Cacioppo and other residents have said they’d like the school district to no longer grant the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund and others permission to use the field as a parking area for events.

Last month, members of the New Suffolk Waterfund said they were in favor of the ballfield renovation plan, but opposed the idea of limiting parking by adding the fence.

Mr. Dill said the school board will have a discussion about field events at next month’s meeting, which is scheduled for July 7.

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