Those hoping to hold events at Mitchell Park in Greenport Village may be out of luck if a moratorium proposed by Mayor David Nyce is approved.
During a Village Board special meeting on Monday night, Mr. Nyce suggested putting a moratorium on park events that aren’t sponsored by the village until the board develops a comprehensive policy on issuing mass assembly permits.
The moratorium proposal comes after two religious groups threaten to take legal action against the village for denying their organizations use of the park for public gatherings.
During the Village Board’s meetings in April and May, the board rejected applications from both Lamb’s Chapel and Maranatha Church to hold events in the park featuring live music and inspirational speakers.
After Mr. Nyce relayed advice to the Village Board from village attorney Joe Prokop, who was absent from Monday’s meeting, the board voted 4-1 to rescind the previous votes and to allow the church events to take place in Mitchell Park on June 29 and July 17.
“We are not in a position to deny these mass assembly permits,” Mr. Nyce said. “We are not on strong legal ground.”
Trustee David Murray cast the lone dissenting vote.
“We should not have to say ‘yes’ to every church,” Mr. Murray said. “This is ridiculous. We need to stop this.”
Mr. Nyce said he’s unwilling to go against Mr. Prokop’s legal advice and proposed a resolution to halt the issuance of any future events until a new policy is developed. Events hosted in partnership with the village, such as Dances in the Park and Maritime Festival, would be exempt from moratorium, he said.
The board is expected to vote on resolution at its next meeting on June 16 at 6 p.m. in the Third Street fire station.