Low turnout for meeting to discuss Greenport tennis court policy

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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