Low turnout for meeting to discuss Greenport tennis court policy

11/14/2010 1:39 AM |


JULIE LANE PHOTO Kate McDowell (left) organized a meeting Saturday to discuss protesting Greenport school closing its outdoor facilities to residents during the school day.



Fewer than 10 people attended a meeting at Aldo’s coffee shop last Saturday to protest Greenport School’s policy barring non-students from its outdoor sports facilities during the school day.

Organizer Kate McDowell said she wasn’t discouraged. A lot of petitions were given out, she explained, adding she expected to present them with signatures at Wednesday’s School Board meeting.
The petition demands that community members be allowed to use the tennis courts and track and ball fields during the school day as long as students aren’t using them.
The protest came after Ms. McDowell and a friend were asked last week to leave the tennis courts, which they had used for years without any problems. According to Superintendent Michael Comanda, school board policy restricts the facilities during the school day for security reasons.
It’s a policy that has long been on the books, but not enforced until Mr. Comanda came aboard this year. He said Friday he was checking with other North Fork superintendents about their policies.
The situation in Greenport is different from elsewhere, Ms. McDowell said, because construction of the tennis courts and resurfacing of the track were funded by the village of Greenport, with money from the sale of most of Greenport’s water system to the Suffolk County Water Authority, and not by the school system.
That doesn’t mean the facilities have to be open to the community during the school day, commented former board president Gary Charters in a brief interview.
Ms. McDowell said she understood security was an important concern and offered to help develop a system for residents to sign in at the office and provide identification. Greenport resident Eileen Kapell said she had made that offer to Mr. Comanda last week and he’d told her he and his staff wouldn’t have time to administer such a sign-in program.
He couldn’t be reached for comment.
In an e-mail to taxpayers before Saturday’s meeting, Ms. McDowell said taxpayers are facing bond issues in December for building repairs that would cost the average taxpayer more than $200 a year for 20 years.
“If we are going to pay more, we should at least be able to maintain our privileges,” she said.
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Comments

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7 Comment

  • People trickled in all afternoon and we gathered plenty of signatures there and many more over the weekend.

  • The highest priority of any school district is to assure the safety and wellbeing of all students. As a former principal, I support a closed campus during school hours that includes the tennis courts, track and field, as well as the elementary playgrounds. Many times, over the past 3 years, I’ve asked adults walking dogs, or parents with pre-school children, to leave the playground area to safeguard students playing outside during recess or lunch. I did this to avoid having to explain to a parent why some stranger came in contact with their child. Obviously, not to intervene would have been irresponsible. Equally rash is to assume high school students or community members on school grounds will always act responsibly. While the likelihood of something happening remains negligible, I do think it is prudent for the district to scrutinize potential problems and address them accordingly. I also believe it is a reasonable sacrifice to ask community members to use the school facilities after school hours. Parents, with children in school, have enough worries and maintaining a safe haven at school, including the school grounds, far outweighs all other arguments.

  • Didn’t she leave the ZBA because she was moving away? And isn’t her home in Southold? She closed her Greenport business.

  • I would hope that the parents of children in the school would form a class action suit if the campus became open to anyone to use during school hours. What a ridiculous idea. Just look on-line to find out how many registered sex offenders and drug dealers have been arrested in Greenport.

  • The tennis courts and new cinders for the track was a successful joint project between the School and the Village of Greenport when I was a board member. What lead up to the courts being at the school was a conversation between myself the Superintendant and the board, what people don’t realize is that there are a large number of properties owned by the Village of Greenport that are not on the tax rolls and the Mitchell property had become one of them and the Village was about to take the property at front and third off the rolls, I suggested to the Superintendant that maybe we could get some help from the Village from losing the taxable property. Mayor Kapell and the Village Board were very receptive and the deal was struck, we had the land and they had the money. When the courts were built this was way in advance of Safe Schools and we had a completely open campus there was a policy where visitors had to sign in but few did. At the time the courts were completed we didn’t have any stipulations about use of the courts other than the School would have exclusive use for educational and sports purposes. Our school has always been and will continue to be the heart of the community, fortunate or unfortunately times have changed and parents have demanded and gotten security measures in place for the school during and immediately after schools in session, doors were locked, cameras and speakers for visitors have been added. The new policys with safe schools and others measures cover the use of the school grounds and facilities, here comes the unfortunate part, that includes the tennis courts and the track. I don’t believe the school district has the resources to cover everyone that crosses the school property but at the request of parents they are doing the best they can to keep students safe and satisfy the parents concerns. I personally do not agree with baring the use of the courts from the public during the school day but there’s a policy in place that prohibits it. Times have changed and most times especially in cases like this in small town america everyday people suffer the consequences. Parents have demanded and gotten new security measures and this I feel has to be a blanket policy that covers the entire building and grounds, if there would be exceptions to the policy then what happens when a group of taxpayers want to use the board room for a meeting at 10AM or the auditorium for a vacation presentation. Again I do not agree with all these new security measures but my friends it’s a sign of the times and what the parents want.

  • The tennis courts and new cinders for the track was a successful joint project between the School and the Village of Greenport when I was a board member. What lead up to the courts being at the school was a conversation between myself the Superintendant and the board, what people don’t realize is that there are a large number of properties owned by the Village of Greenport that are not on the tax rolls and the Mitchell property had become one of them and the Village was about to take the property at front and third off the rolls, I suggested to the Superintendant that maybe we could get some help from the Village from losing the taxable property. Mayor Kapell and the Village Board were very receptive and the deal was struck, we had the land and they had the money. When the courts were built this was way in advance of Safe Schools and we had a completely open campus there was a policy where visitors had to sign in but few did. At the time the courts were completed we didn’t have any stipulations about use of the courts other than the School would have exclusive use for educational and sports purposes. Our school has always been and will continue to be the heart of the community, fortunate or unfortunately times have changed and parents have demanded and gotten security measures in place for the school during and immediately after schools in session, doors were locked, cameras and speakers for visitors have been added. The new policys with safe schools and others measures cover the use of the school grounds and facilities, here comes the unfortunate part, that includes the tennis courts and the track. I don’t believe the school district has the resources to cover everyone that crosses the school property but at the request of parents they are doing the best they can to keep students safe and satisfy the parents concerns. I personally do not agree with baring the use of the courts from the public during the school day but there’s a policy in place that prohibits it. Times have changed and most times especially in cases like this in small town america everyday people suffer the consequences. Parents have demanded and gotten new security measures and this I feel has to be a blanket policy that covers the entire building and grounds, if there would be exceptions to the policy then what happens when a group of taxpayers want to use the board room for a meeting at 10AM or the auditorium for a vacation presentation. Again I do not agree with all these new security measures but my friends it’s a sign of the times and what the parents want.

  • Phil, you are the lesser of two evils, and that’s not saying much……….