Public split over events at Mitchell Park

Village sponsored activities such as Dances in the Park are not impacted by the ban on events in Mitchell Park.  (Credit: Katharine Schroeder File Photo)
The village sponsored Dances in the Park is not impacted by the ban on events in Mitchell Park. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

There was no shortage of competing ideas during Monday night’s village board meeting on how, or if, mass assembly permits should issued for events at Mitchell Park.

The one point that could be agreed upon, however, is that it would take a while before a policy is enacted.  

At the start of the first public hearing on whether events other than those sponsored by the village should be allowed at the park, Mayor David Nyce said the board expected the conversation to take months before a law is adopted.

Until this summer, the board said it considered issuing mass assembly permits on a “case by case” basis. But, a growing interest in use of the park and after two religious groups threatened to take legal action against the village for denying their organizations use of the park, the board said it needed to develop a more definitive policy.

“Over the last seven years people have been saying there would be a time when there are events every weekend at Mitchell Park,” Mr. Nyce said. “That has come to pass.”

During the hearing, the public was split on how the park should be used. Some said the village should capitalize on the park’s potential to be an income generator.

Doug Roberts, who lives on Sixth Street, suggested the village close off the park five to 10 nights a year for large-scale events that could help pay down debt.

“This could be a revenue generator like any investment,” he said. “Let’s make it a way for our businesses to make money and our village to pay off its debt faster.”

Others said the park should benefit the public and a limited number of events should be permitted on a first-come, first-served basis. Doug Moore, chairman of the Greenport ZBA, said event approval could be based on merits like public interest and overall benefit to the community.

“I think the profit motive for events in the parks should not be a consideration,” Mr. Moore said. “The park should be about the benefit to the public.”

The conservation came to a standstill after about 25 minutes after residents said they wanted to know if state and federal grant money used to build Mitchell Park imposed restrictions on the property.

The village attorney was asked to look into the possible limitations and the public hearing was kept open to gather more public comment.

The moratorium on all events the board enacted in June will remain in effect until a law could be put on the books.

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