Should for-profit events be held on public properties?

BETH YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Southold Town officials said the high usage at Strawberry Fields in Mattituck has hurt the athletic fields there.

Southold Town Board members may vote in a matter of weeks on a policy to restrict for-profit bike rides and footraces on town roads. A policy is being drafted that would ban all for-profit outdoor events and limit the number of participants in nonprofit bike rides to 600. Nonprofit footraces would not be subject to that cap.

Last month Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said these types of activities are doubling in size and straining the police department’s resources. The policy would not affect events that have already been approved by the town this year. Any proposed event would still require the board’s approval.

Chief Flatley’s comments prompted the board to revisit other private uses of public land, specifically at Strawberry Fields, which is deteriorating due to a high volume of usage.

“We just can’t host private businesses earning income off town property,” Town Supervisor Scott Russell said. He added that many residents are upset nonresident sports leagues are destroying the field.

Currently the town requires sports teams to provide proof of residency. Nonresident groups are charged $150 a day to use the field. In the future, they may be required to prove that 65 percent of their team members live in Southold Town.

The policy is being reviewed by the recreation department and will be taken up by the board at an upcoming meeting.

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